International Women’s Day Interview with Jamie Reddekopp, Team Leader – Biofuels Optimization at Suncor
When I started my professional career, I was really lucky to have a tough but fair-minded boss who showed me the ropes and encouraged me to do my best. She also rocked a fabulous wardrobe, more so that you would expect from the notoriously stodgy Ministry of the Attorney General. And while some of my experiences at MAG are the stuff of legend, for International Women’s Day I thought it would be better to interview someone from Suncor, the proud owner of Petro-Canada.
Meet Jamie Reddekopp, Team Leader – Biofuels Optimization!
Biofuels – that sounds exciting! Can you describe what your team does?
Our team is involved in a number of areas that relate to biofuels. There are many different renewable fuel regulations across Canada, both provincial and federal. We are responsible for ensuring that Suncor meets the requirements of the regulations, optimizing our biofuels portfolio and keeping us moving towards our sustainability goals.
As part of this we work closely with our commercial team – the people who buy, trade and sell renewable fuels to ensure we are getting the products we require to support our business objectives.
That must be fascinating - being involved in the emerging space of biofuels! What do you love most about your job?
Three things; first in the work that I do, I love being part of the solution. We are addressing important issues like climate change and developing a path forward. We don’t put our heads in the sand; instead we look for opportunities to lead change.
Second, the talented people I get to work with. I’m grateful to be part of a broader Suncor team who is passionate about what they do.
And third, to be part of a principled Canadian company that wants to be a leader in sustainability and make a positive impact on peoples’ lives.
So what's the one thing that would surprise people about working at Suncor?
I think there would be two things. First, people assume that oil and gas is a “dinosaur” industry. But it’s not. Suncor is extremely innovative and the work we’re doing will impact the future. And second, there is a real diversity of roles within Suncor and support for cross-functional development. You could essentially have multiple careers all within one company – from biofuels to marketing to operations and so on.
How did you get started in your career?
After university, I started working for a global consumer packaged goods company. But I really wanted to have a career at a Canadian company that has an impact on Canadian lives. And one that has values - that they put into practice and were evidenced - that match my own. So I made the move to Suncor.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
Be your authentic real self. Don’t be a carbon copy of someone else.
And be humble, always looking to learn. The moment that you stop learning is the moment you stop growing. Know what your strengths are but always be willing to learn.
Do you have any heroes or mentors?
I’ve been really influenced by the works of Brené Brown. She’s written a number of books and given speeches around the power of vulnerability, courage and leadership. I love all her books but in particular Rising Strong and Daring Greatly both really stuck with me. As Brené highlights in her work, vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness. She also speaks to the importance of courageously owning our own story in life vs. seeking external affirmation.
One of my favourite quotes from her is: “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort. It's choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. It's choosing to practice your values rather than simply professing them.”
In terms of my career, I am lucky to have a strong role model and mentor in my mom. She is a senior leader in the energy industry, starting her career in a time when the industry was very male-dominated, particularly for leadership roles. From her I’ve learned strength, courage, perseverance and humility. She showed me what is possible while staying true to yourself and your values. She also was diligent in finding balance between her career, family and passions. Not always easy – but something I strive to do as well.
Thanks, Jamie, for sharing your perspective on International Women’s Day! Do you have a mentor or someone who influenced you in your career? Share it with us in the comments below!
- Rose R.