As part of our Careers in Mining series, this post looks at the job of Site Coordinator with Lisa Nottebrock of Bouchier Contracting.
Lisa is a Site Coordinator for the Bouchier Group at the Kearl Oil Sands Project. She is 25 years old and lives in Kelowna, BC. She has studied Business, Psychology, Public Relations and Marketing Management at Okanagan College, UVic, and BCIT. She loves road biking, camping and hiking and spends her time off with friends and family. Eventually, Lisa wants to work in the marketing and communications department within the mining or energy industry after gaining valuable site experience.
What is your main role as a Site Coordinator?
My role as a site coordinator includes many different office functions that support the employees and the operation of the company itself. I am responsible for booking all employee's camp and travel arrangements, generating and submitting reports to head office and to our prime contractor on site, purchasing parts and completing orders for machinery on site, keeping up to date employee files, arranging new-hires orientation and providing them with the necessary camp information, completing all administrative tasks, and supporting the site manager or supervisors when needed. I am the key contact for communication between head office and anyone not on site for Bouchier Contracting at the Kearl site.
What came first - a desire to go into mining, or the desire to partake in different type of career, involving your psychology and marketing background?
Initially I went to business school where I was able to get a taste of the business world. From there, I followed my interest to a degree in Psychology. The subject matter was extremely interesting to me, however I didn't anticipate a career in the field. I continued with my education at BCIT where I completed a certificate in Marketing Management. It was during my time at BCIT that my interest and desire to learn more about the mining industry grew. I began to research the industry and companies involved in it both locally and internationally, and shortly after graduation began working up at the Kearl Oil Sands Project. I was able to identify the opportunities available in the industry for myself as I was willing to work hard and learn as my career grew.
Is your job mostly office based or do you spend more time at mine/exploration sites?
My job is spent almost entirely in the office, although there is the opportunity for me to go and see what is going on around me. I have been taken out to tour the site, which put things into perspective for me and let me see first-hand the magnitude of the operation and where I am really working. It is both exciting and inspiring to see the operation of the project and to understand what the processes are that happen each day just outside of my office. To get started in the industry and have the opportunity to work right amongst it at a site is beneficial because I am able to learn daily through observation and the work I am doing. Additionally, I have career-long professionals alongside me to answer any questions I do have.
Has your job allowed you to travel? If so, where to?
My job requires me to travel to and from site every ten days. I am on a rotational schedule in which I work for ten days and then have ten days off. I am flown in and out of Calgary up to work at the Kearl site, which is approximately 70 km north of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. That is the extent of traveling in my current position, although within the industry there is great opportunity for travel, and I can see that depending on your eagerness, you can direct the course of your career.
If you are away from home for extended periods, what makes you the type of person that can do this successfully?
Being up at work for ten days at a time is not a long time, although it does require you to have a keen work ethic and desire to keep learning. You are directly immersed into the industry, so you really have to want to be there. I think to be successful in this type of role you have to have a genuine passion for the work. As well, you have to use every day as a tool to further your knowledge and understanding of not only your specific job duties, but also what is going on around you on the large scale. It is critical to have a good attitude and appreciate the opportunity you have.
What does your average day look like?
In the morning, the first thing I need to do is receive the SDR (Supervisor Daily Report) books from the supervisors. From these I record employee times and equipment usage time. I generate payroll spreadsheets and record hours each for employee worked and calculate hours for equipment used the previous day. I enter them into the accounting program to prepare for sign off from the company that runs the site. I am also responsible for ensuring each employee has their correct flights booked to and from camp as well as their accommodation for while they are here. Additionally, I ensure that all purchasing is completed for the site. All new hires that are sent to me from head office need to be contacted and it is my responsibility to ensure they are informed of their duties as well as their camp and travel information to come up here. I am the contact point for anyone outside of the site so I maintain contact and relationships with anyone who has questions or contacts the site for information. Essentially, I am responsible for maintaining and controlling any administrative task to do with the site, so it is a big job but is highly rewarding because of the challenges and changes I face from day to day.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have already learned so much and every day brings new challenges. I have met like-minded people who share the same interests as I do, and we all get along really well. It is an experience that most of my friends and family are unfamiliar with, so it is fun to come home and tell them all about it. I have been able to educate people and tell them about the site I work at and everything that goes on among it. It is cool to have a career that is out of the ordinary and people are always eager to hear about it.
What do you love most about your job?
After finishing school, I was really looking for something that gave me the chance to utilize what I had learned and combine it with experience I could gain in the field. I appreciate the hard work that you put in while you are there, but also the fact that you are taking away so much from the whole experience. I love that growth can be personalized and you are able to work with great people. I am learning so much from everyone around me and also from the tasks that I am doing that I feel this to be a huge benefit to working at a site with direct contact to the real happenings of the industry.
There must be aspects of the job which you don't enjoy so much. What are they?
The things I thought I would really struggle with I have come to appreciate. I had never got up at 4 am regularly, but it's nice to have an early start to your day. I thought I would have a hard time working for 12 hours but in fact you need all of those hours to accomplish what needs to get done! Overall, the experience has surpassed my expectations.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a similar career path?
My advice would be that if you believe to have a passion for this work and this industry, then there is immeasurable opportunity for you to showcase your skills and make a valuable impact. Take the chance to get involved, research not only specific companies but also the processes and the people. Direct your education so that you can take those skills and see them at work in the field. Like anything, if you are willing to put the effort and time in, you will be successful, and this is great industry to prove that in.
For more interviews with mining professionals in different jobs, have a look at our main Careers in Mining post.
Header photo: aerial seeding at Highland Valley Copper. Image courtesy of Teck Resources Ltd.