At Nalcor, we know the power that moves us is our people. That’s why we want only the best – the kind of people who not only work hard, but also want to be part of something bigger. Something with vision. Discover here if you would like to be a part of the same thing.
Supporting employee volunteerism at Nalcor Energy
Merissa Wiseman, communications advisor with Corporate Communication & Shareholder Relations, understands the value of giving back to one’s community as part of a healthy work/life balance. Fortunately, at Nalcor Energy, she’s found a company that agrees with her.
“I’ve used my communication background for some volunteer work,” she says. “I was on the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) board from January to June of this year. I also do some volunteer work with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland, who we also support corporately.”
With IABC, Merissa was heavily involved with the redesign and launch of their new website, offering her professional input throughout the process. But her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters is more personal.
“I’ve been matched with my little sister for about three years,” she says. “There are challenges that come with it, like the time commitment, but I really enjoy it and hopefully I get to make a difference in someone’s life.”
The spirit of volunteerism and charity is alive and well at Nalcor. Merissa runs Nalcor’s and Hydro’s Community Investment Program, where she gets to see up close the charitable efforts the companies and her colleagues get involved in.
“We have employee matching and employee volunteer programs,” she says. “If an employee volunteers with a not-for-profit group, they can apply for a $100 donation to that organization. We also have a matching contribution program, where if a group of employees get together to raise money for a cause we will match what they raise, up to $1,500.”
In addition to cash donations, Nalcor also recognizes the importance of people giving time and effort back to their community.
“If I had a lunch meeting or if I had to leave early to volunteer, it’s never a problem,” she says. “They’re flexible with scheduling, so it allows you to get your volunteering in. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to do it.” In the pursuit of a work-life balance, it makes sense for an industry leader like Nalcor to accommodate employees who include the lives of others in that mix.
President’s Award winner still loving the best job he’s ever had
Wilmore Eddy, manager of Nalcor Energy Exploits Generation in Grand Falls-Windsor and a Nalcor President’s Award winner, knew he wanted to be an electrical engineer as a young boy. It was, after all, the family business.
“My father was a hydro plant operator with Newfoundland Power, so I spent a lot of time in the plant with him,” he says, laughing. “You’d never get away with it today, with insurance and liability issues, though — but that’s where I got the bug.”
Eddy was formerly the energy manger for the Abitibi Consolidated pulp mill, until he and his colleagues became part of Nalcor. There was some confusion and apprehension at the time, but one thing came through very clearly from his new employers: Nalcor’s culture of safety.
“It was the first thing that got mentioned,” he says. “Our focus for the last two years has been driven in that safety direction, and mitigating old issues.”
Two years after the transition, Eddy describes the overall morale as being very positive now, and he would know: he has to keep an eye on a lot.
“I’m responsible for 38 people,” he says. “I manage 92 megawatts of generating capacity over three stations. On a day-to-day basis, I’m responsible for the overall operations and maintenance of these facilities, the water management of the whole system… And of course the safety and environmental aspects, plus labour relations too.”
In addition to this, Wilmore has been involved in a special salmon project in the Exploits River since 1996. Started by AbitibiBowater and taken up by Nalcor, with help from many environmental groups and government departments such as DFO, Wilmore and his colleagues have worked to re-route the fish safely away from the river’s generating turbines. The success — three straight years of record salmon runs — helped earn Wilmore the President’s Award and international attention.
Acclaim aside, it’s the daily work that still motivates him.
“It’s the best job I’ve had since I was a student!” he says, citing the spirit of teamwork and compensation at Nalcor as big pluses. “I’m doing what I’ve always done and what I’ve always enjoyed.”
Spirit of giving alive and well
Patricia Stamp, an administrative assistant with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s Treasury and Risk Management Department, has seen first-hand the value of giving. She helps organize the Hydro Place’s penny campaign for Choices for Youth, a non-profit charity that provides housing and lifestyle development support in St. John’s.
“One of our goals here is to be a valued corporate citizen in Newfoundland and Labrador,” she explains. “We wanted something to which we could all contribute and get Hydro’s support. My husband suggested a penny campaign, and I thought, why not?”
Choices for Youth is not the only charity supported by Hydro, but this one is special to Patricia and her colleagues. When asked how they chose this particular cause, which helps young people who have suffered abusive pasts and addiction problems, she says it was personal for her and her colleagues.
“It touched my heart,” she says. “Many of us here have children the same age, you see.”
Collecting the money is simple. Patricia sets up jars throughout Hydro Place in St. John’s, with signs explaining the charity and reminding people their spare change could make a big difference. Last year they raised $740, and this year they’ve topped that with $1,200. The money raised by employees is matched by Hydro’s employee matching program through its Community Investment Program.
The money raised provides a Christmas stocking with personal items: socks, toiletries, mitts and other necessities, plus a few treats. It may not sound very lavish, but it’s certainly made a difference to the recipients. “We got a note thanking us—one of the young men had said it was the most presents he ever got at Christmas,” she says.
Patricia, however, is very clear that many of her fellow workers give of their time and pitch in for various good causes. She’s quick to give anyone who works at the company all the credit for any way they helped out.
“Oh my goodness—we wouldn’t be able to do this without them,” she says, noting this time of year can be especially tough for many people but that her co-workers always seem to be able to find a little more to give. “Somebody said to me recently: ‘Nobody minds going the extra mile at Christmas time.'”
Education opportunities make for career opportunities
Not everything a company makes can be bought at the local store or shopping mall. Brad Coady knows this better than most. An energy marketing analyst with Nalcor Energy, he describes his job in simple terms: “I take available power from the Churchill Falls Hydroelectric Generating facility and sell it on the open marketplace.”
It might sound simple, but it’s not. It requires a keen understanding of how all Nalcor’s energy capabilities are connected. Brad, however, has had the chance to see how the company operates up close early in his Nalcor career after graduating as an electrical engineer from Memorial University.
“I spent a year in Churchill Falls and was then rotated into systems operation, and eventually to systems planning,” he says. “I had a chance to learn about how all the pieces of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Nalcor fit together. So I was given the opportunity to see how the one thing I might be working on in Churchill Falls fit into the big picture of how everything worked at Nalcor.”
The big picture is something Brad is keenly aware of. He realized a while back that he wanted to improve his skill set to get better at his job and give himself some options for the future.
“I did my MBA at Memorial University over the last few years,” he says. “My engineering background helps me understand the technical perspective, to understand how it all works and what [Nalcor’s capabilities are]. The business side really improves the economics, the marketing and the business relationships. So, both together are a perfect marriage, really.”
Nalcor agreed: Brad did his master’s thanks to a company program for further employee education.
“Nalcor provided me support for my books and tuition, and were willing to give me the time I needed for classes and exams,” he says. It was this kind of support that convinced Coady this is the kind of company he wants to stick with.
“It’s very progressive here,” he says. “Nalcor’s really taken a leading role in [these programs], plus other ideas like better maternity leave which will really help out a lot of people here.”
Change is a constant, but so is pride in the work at Hydro
Change is a constant in business, and Annette Higdon has seen a lot of it in her time with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
“I’ve been with the company twenty years,” she says. “I started out at Hydro Place in St. John’s after doing my administrative assistant training. From there I spent about three or four years in Whitbourne, which led to my job at the Holyrood plant.”
Annette is the maintenance planning clerk for the Holyrood Thermal Generating Station. Simply put, she records and keeps track of all the work that is scheduled by the Maintenance Planning Department. “All the job cards that are put out for each and every job in the plant comes through us,” she says. “I generate the work orders, I keep track of the work completed and the equipment used, and I’m responsible for all the history and data entry. From a safety point of view, it’s important as well that we keep track of when equipment has been used, last inspected and repaired.”
Clearly, it’s a lot of responsibility, but she enjoys the role—and her co-workers.
“I like the plant, it’s an interesting place. It’s a beehive of activity, and there’s always new challenges every day. I love it there and I love the people.”
With more and more emphasis being put on the use of clean hydroelectricity and other green sources of energy, Annette is quick to point out that the work of her and her colleagues in Holyrood is still crucial. It’s also safer and cleaner than it’s ever been: she says she’s seen similar operations in other cities, and the Holyrood plant is one of the best of its kind.
“I don’t think people realize how important the plant is,” she says. “If it wasn’t there, well, the Avalon Peninsula would be without power.”
There’s a clear sense of camaraderie that comes with that kind of pride, and the plant workers enjoy an overall strong bond with each other.
“It’s a close place, and it feels like family there… We have a social club, and we just recently had [an event for the workers] that was a tremendous success, with over a hundred in attendance. Anything like that we have, we always get good participation.”
But it’s not all fun and games, she says when asked what are the type of people Hydro has hired and will be looking for in the future. “Oh, they’re going to want more go-getters,” she says. “Hard workers who are not just going to sit there and go along for the ride.”
Nalcor Energy Churchill Falls is one of the last frontiers of power generation in North America: isolated, with harsh Labrador winters, it asks for more than a little pioneer spirit from its residents. But for those like Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Ivany, making a life and career there has been richly rewarding.
Jeff first arrived in Churchill Falls in 1991, following eight years with the Grand Falls Fire Department. He moved there permanently in ’92 and hasn’t looked back since. (He’s never even missed a Christmas there since arriving). But despite his tenure, he’s committed to always learning more about his work and, thanks to Nalcor training programs, he gets the opportunity to do so.
“Our training is ongoing,” he says. “We’re guaranteed three weeks [of it] a year, and we just got to keep upgrading ourselves. That’s where we get our skills, by being on top of the new procedures that come out.”
Jeff is certainly happy with both his career and his life in Churchill Falls, but acknowledges it’s not for everyone. But for a family man who enjoys the work, community involvement, and the small-town atmosphere, it represents an excellent opportunity.
“I cannot complain,” he says of his time there. “I have a wife and raised two kids here. You can’t argue with the schooling here, my kids excelled in all their sports, and I was involved with coaching here, too… But [newcomers] have to love Labrador and they have to love the cold.”
Jeff’s day-to-day job isn’t that of a typical fire fighter. He and his colleagues handle emergency response, health and safety, plus security. “We are the first point of contact for anyone coming in [to the plant],” he says, adding that they’re the eyes and ears for employees and visitors. Everything goes through them. Needless to say, their role in the community is unique amongst their peers across the country.
“We couldn’t find another spot in Canada that handles all the aspects of the job that we do,” he says. “We take care of everything from catching a porcupine to handling a transformer fire underground, and everything in between.”
It is perhaps that kind of on-the-job diversity that keeps Jeff excited about his work.
“I love my job,” he says. “I love coming to work, and I would say everyone in this shop enjoys coming to work every morning.”