When I came to Alberta, I didn't even know the province had natural gas. I'd been a framer for my dad's construction company in southern Ontario for a number of years, doing private and custom homebuilding. I was into it, and I was good at it. But the economy weakened and there wasn't enough work to sustain a decent salary, which caused me to move to Alberta.
I first went to Edson, where my sister and her fiancé had a house. I found work immediately, working in shipping/receiving for a large gas compression company, first in Edson and then in Nisku. I rose to warehouse lead.
Although I knew nothing about the oil and gas industry, coming to Alberta had made me very interested in it. I felt that if I was going to work for a company in this industry, I needed to know all I could about it. How could I be a good shipper if I didn't know why this valve is different from that valve? So I did all that I could to learn about the industry. My best advice to anyone thinking of making a change like I did would be to improve your knowledge about the industry.
Roska came to my attention through an online ad. I felt it was time to try something new, and I joined in January 2015. Between my previous job and Roska I've completed a bunch of training: front-end loader training, H2S Alive, Class 1 through 7 forklift licence, two special client certifications, WHMIS, transportation of dangerous goods, bear awareness, crane operator's certificate, and skid-steer safety training.
I love living in the Peace Country. Grande Prairie is big enough for me, but it's not too big-city the way Ontario was. I can drive 10 minutes from town and really be "out of town". I've been exploring the country around here. I've been fishing and I plan to resume hunting.
At Roska, there's virtually no chance of having nothing to do. My job as Procurement Assistant is continuous multi-tasking. I might be working to support three or four jobs, meaning I have to remember 15 different things. On a normal work day, I come in and receive anything that's left over from the previous day, and process any paperwork that's left over.
Throughout the day, I make sure that whatever comes in is properly received and stored, including returns. I tag parts with our internal unit numbers according to their serial numbers and descriptions. I organize parts so they go to the right place – either staging to the field or onto the shelf for storage. Any returned parts I return them to the vendor.
For outgoing parts, I pull the parts and organize what's required for the upcoming job. I stage everything for shipment, record numbers, and make sure everything's packed properly so it's safe and secure and arrives undamaged. A large, multi-well job can require 15-20 pallets of small parts on two or more large trailer loads. My sense of accomplishment comes when everything is laid out on time, accurately, with no mistakes.
My background and my lifelong interest is psychology, and I have a B.A. from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver as well as a diploma in Human Resources Management from BCIT. Making a career in human resources has let me continue working with people and helping people but in a business setting rather than a clinical setting.
I began as an administrator when I joined Roska in July 2011. After about a year I became a recruiter, and for the past year I've been a staffing specialist.
Career-wise, I was a bit lost before I landed at Roska. The job here has been more than I hoped for. I didn't know if I'd get stuck within a particular job description. It has been nice how I've been encouraged to take on different things and have been able to run with projects that interest me.
The Roska managers are really interested in people's ideas. It's not top-down thinking. I was able to work on our new recruitment software, helping to get it set up and develop some training guides. I couldn't have gotten a job with this much responsibility or have risen this fast in the corporate world in Vancouver.
The people are the most enjoyable part of the job, and working with them as a team is what I look forward to the most each day. The part of my job I like best is recruitment. When you find that guy who doesn't have experience and hasn't had a job before, but who has the right attitude to succeed, and you help them get their foot in the door and get started, it's truly awesome. You feel a bit like a proud mom. And it's the same on the customer side: when you help solve a problem or get the customer out of a bind, it's really rewarding.
Personally, it took me a long time, quite a few years and several different jobs, to figure out what I wanted to do and to find the right role. For someone who's just about to enter the working world, I would say that attitude is critical to success. Some young people these days have a mentality of, 'What can the company do for me?' They need to think, 'What can I do for the company?'
If you're in mid-career and thinking about a switch into the oil and gas industry, you need to be able to roll with the punches. We are dealing with a commodity here: prices go up and down. It's a complicated industry with a lot of terminology. You need to be interested and ask questions.
In order to succeed at Roska, a big factor is going beyond doing just your specific job. You need to pay attention to what's going on around you, and be willing to lend a hand. That's where you can really add value to the company – and have people see that.
Right from a young age I was interested in the oilfield. My dad worked in oilfield operations and I'd visit the plant sites with him. I was born in Grande Prairie and grew up in Spirit River. My first summer jobs were painting piping. I was always interested in getting out into the working world because I'm not really big on school and spending time in a classroom setting.
My dad often worked with oilfield operators supplied by Roska, and that's how I first heard about the company. Because their staffing service hires for other companies, it was a good place to put in my resume. But I actually got a job with Roska itself in 2002, starting out doing data entry in accounts receivable and helping with invoicing. Then I did accounts payable, contractor payments, payroll and benefits, and became payroll supervisor in 2013.
Roska has been a place where I've been able to start at the bottom, learn about the company, grow and try new things. They encourage you to further your education and they provide support for courses. During my time working here, I have earned my Payroll Compliance Practitioner certificate.
On a typical work day, I'll review payroll, answer questions from individuals about their time, help people with their time sheets, make payments online, and review the work of the people under me to make sure everything's going into the accounting system properly.
A big part of what I love about working here are the people. My aunt and mother-in-law both work here. Most of the people I spend time with outside of work are people I've met at work. We go for lunches, go golfing, have our coffee breaks together. A lot of us have kids the same age, and we often gets our kids together. My son is best friends with the son of one of the ladies I work with.
If you're a young person who's thinking of their career options, you should think about what you enjoy doing and see if there's some way of incorporating that into your work life. There are many different ways to be involved in the oilfield, and lots of opportunities. Whether you drive a truck, do the courses to get into operating, or work in an office setting, there's a ton of different ways to be involved.
To succeed at Roska requires hard work and a commitment to the company. This is a busy place, and there's not much sitting around. But if you give them 100 percent, they will give you 100 percent. It can be much more than just a short-term job, it can become a lifelong company to work for.
I've always been very work-oriented, and I worked multiple part-time jobs when I was in my late teens. When I first started at Roska in about 2000, my goals were mainly the things you think about when you're young: I wanted money to afford a car, because we lived out in the country, and to be able to buy things and pay for a vacation. But I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I "grew up", so working in an office setting gave me a chance to think about my career.
I started out as a receptionist/assistant, then became an administrator. I had taken some drafting courses in high school, and one of the company's owners knew that and moved me into that department. I really enjoyed that, and became a drafter. After a few years I went to Lethbridge Community College for my Certified Engineering Technologist education, and then worked at another company for several years, before returning to Roska.
I just loved drafting, and back then that's all I wanted to continue doing. But over the years, as the company took on integrated projects, the engineering group grew from barely three to four people to around 20. As we grew, my manager would throw me into these new situations, and I realized I really loved working with people, organizing things, making sure that people all get what they need, accommodating customer changes, and seeing items being finished. So I progressed into my current role of Engineering Coordinator.
My Dad was a truck driver for an oil company, delivering fuel to the rigs, so the oil and gas industry was always familiar to me. For people who don't know the industry, one misconception might be that it's a dirty industry. But if you work for the right people, it's a very safe, clean and viable industry. If you're thinking of getting into this oil and gas, my advice is: just jump in. You have to be prepared for it being hectic and fast-paced, but it's so worth it.
Even though we've grown into a big company, it's not a big-company mentality at Roska. I can still go up to the President and ask any questions. You're not a number here, you're a name. It's a family-style and family-oriented company. My Mom and I have worked here together the whole time I've been here. Recently I came back from maternity leave, after having twins, and Roska gave me the flexibility to work from home two days per week.
Working at Roska has allowed me to build a great career while continuing to live in the Peace Country. I love it here. It's home, it's where my entire family is, and my husband's family. I grew up on a farm, and I still appreciate the beauty during harvest time.
Since 1980 I've been nonstop in the oilpatch, looking after operations from as far north as Fort Liard, Northwest Territories, all the way to Southern Saskatchewan, including Fort St. John, Grande Prairie, Spirit River, Edson, Whitecourt, Drayton Valley, Hanna and Swift Current. I've been an operations superintendent, a senior lead overseeing construction activities, a foreman and a compliance manager, as well as doing numerous operational jobs in the earlier years.
The story of my life has been driving. My first job was working as a cowboy near Vermilion, Alberta, driving purebred Hereford cattle. At age 18 I became a truck driver and by the time I was 30 I'd logged more than 1 million miles behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer, travelling all across Canada and most of the northwest U.S. Part of my time in the oilpatch was spent hauling oil.
I first encountered Roska from the customer's standpoint. They were a service provider to the company whose field operations I was running, and what I found was the ease with which we could relate. The engineering support team at Roska had direct operations experience, so there was an instant understanding of what the customer's issues were.
And then one day I was "involuntarily released" by my employer. But I wasn't ready to retire. One thing I don't "do" very well is boredom. I love to work, and I had plenty of energy plus lots left to contribute. Within three days of losing my job, Roska was asking about my plans. They don't mind grey hair and they sure liked my 35 years of experience, so I joined in December 2014.
I've gone from herding upwards of 100 staff to my new role of being a project manager as part of the engineering group. I focus on communicating with people, ensuring that knowledge is where it needs to be, and seeing that everything is in place to get the project done on time.
The work here is good – but the people are the best. This is a company where people are allowed to do their jobs and get things done. It's evident in the way Roska continues to grow even amidst a difficult economy. We've delivered four major projects in a row ahead of schedule and on-budget – and we continue to improve our execution month-by-month. It makes it feel good coming to work every day.
If a young person who's just starting out were to ask me for advice, I would say: try out a few different things, find your passion, and then get the education to back it up. Working just to have work or just for the income isn't enough. It's finding the honest rewards that tell you you're being successful in your own right. My daughter went to university at age 39 to get the accreditation to do what she loves to do.
My new job at Roska has been a lot of fun. I'm able to pursue my volunteer role related to people with developmental disabilities with Inclusion Alberta, which is very important to me. I don't do as much driving as I used to, which my family appreciates. And I'm home every night!
My ongoing passion has been to learn and become an expert in my field, and to transfer that knowledge to other people. My mother always told me, "If you learn a skill, nobody can take that away from you. Whatever you decide to do, learn it well."
I started working full-time when I was 16. My first job was as a junior recruiter in a job placement agency in India – not that different from Roska. I ended up opening my own job placement firm, and later sold the company to my partner.
Coming to Alberta, it was clear that oil and gas is the biggest sector, so I thought why not merge my professional passion with this industry. In 2012, I started as a project administrator with a land surveying company in Fort St. John, B.C., recruiting land surveyors and crew chiefs. I found myself back in my core area of making sure we had the right people for the right jobs.
I did want to grow as a professional, and through talking to Roska's people in Fort St. John, I learned about this opportunity in Edmonton. My wife was open to the move, so I joined in August 2013, and now here I am.
Several things excite me about working at Roska. First is the job itself, second is the people I work with, third is the company's culture. Every day I go home with some new thing which really fascinates me about the oil and gas industry. It intrigues me when you have to relate the terminology of oil and gas to the people who are actually on the site.
My advice to someone who is starting their career is to have a good work ethic, always show up on time, and work hard. Don't be afraid of asking questions – no question is a stupid question. What I see among teen-agers is that many are driven by immediate success. You need to be patient, things will come to you if you work hard and give 100 percent. Passion is key. Be persistent. Take advice. Collaborate.
Regarding our industry, I tell people that no money is easy money. Even if you regard the compensation in oil and gas as very high, you have to work very hard, and you have to work in very cold weather and very hot weather. The industry is volatile, there will be downturns.
I feel very lucky to be working for Roska. I have a B.Comm. which I earned in India, and a Certificate of Business Management that I completed in Fort St. John. Now I'm working on my Certificate of Human Resources Management from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, and the company is supporting me in taking a Dale Carnegie course.
To me, the decisive factor about Roska is that you are considered a real person. You don't just get e-mails from the managers telling you what to do. You're encouraged to speak up in meetings, and everyone appreciates when you bring something to the table. I want to help make this workplace an even better workplace and to help attract more people to the company.
For the past 30-plus years I’ve been a career-oriented oilfield operator. My dad worked in the oilpatch his entire working life while also running the family homestead in northern Alberta. In my community back then, it was the oilpatch that attracted practically everybody coming out of high school.
When I first started working, I was just looking for a job rather than thinking systematically about a career. So I did a number of things. I drove a truck and ran heavy equipment like dozers and graders. Later I worked on a crew truck as a pipefitter’s helper, then a welder’s helper, then got a field operator’s position. That’s been my area ever since.
In 1985 I went to work for a major oil and gas producer as a field operator. This put me on a career path working my way through various field operations positions into management. I was in management from 2001 until 2012. I thought that working for a major company provided security – it sure felt like it did. But in 2012 a realignment took place within the company, and my career there came to an end. That was unexpected, to say the least.
After I sent out resumes, Roska came back with an opportunity. I had used Roska to source contract operators while I was a production foreman at the oil producer, and they’d always been very professional. So I accepted the new position.
In my new position, I had a variety of tasks. I participated in commissioning activities for temporary and permanent batteries, compressor stations and wellsite facilities, and I operated them afterwards. I also wrote procedures, performed inspections, developed ideas for improvement, and mentored some of the newer generation of operators.
The standout project for me has been a Montney shale gas compression facility in northeast British Columbia that we designed, built, installed and have operated ever since. I wrote the operating practices, worked with the customer’s team through the pre-commissioning and commissioning, got the facility up and running within the planned parameters. That was a very satisfying project.
Throughout my time at Roska, I’d been mulling the idea of being a contract operator instead of an employee, and in June 2015 I made the switch. They have kept me busy ever since. It’s been mostly commissioning and start-up work, as well as some relief operations. I have the option of picking and choosing jobs that are interesting, giving me flexibility and not having to be available 365 days a year.
This industry has changed over the last 30 years. When I started out, I was handed a map marked with the sites I was going to take care of, told how many production readings I was expected to provide each day, and was turned loose. Nowadays, you go through intense training, you go through mentorship, you have to provide competencies before you’re allowed to perform tasks.
The best career advice I can give a young person is to make sure you have the required education in place. Get all the certifications you can. Then treat work as a continuous apprenticeship program. You need to always be learning – so embrace it!