Shelley Powell gets the full industry scope of the Wood Buffalo region through her position as Senior Vice President of Suncor Energy’s Base Plant facility.
Powell grew up in a military family, which placed her in a nomadic lifestyle, living in several places throughout her childhood. However, she credits this as the reason she loves to travel.
A chemical engineer by trade, she graduated from the University of Ottawa in 1994. One year later, she started her Suncor career in Sarnia, Ontario. In 2007, Powell made her first move to the city with her husband and two sons, stayed for five years, and then returned in 2017.
The city of Fort McMurray was her 13th time she had relocated in her life, and she calls it the best of all the places she has lived. And though she’s aware of the large role industry has on the region, she believes there’s another resource that’s more important.
“Many people talk about the oil sand resource and bitumen as being the most important asset in the Wood Buffalo region. I disagree. It is our people. The Wood Buffalo region is home to some of the greatest opportunities in Canada,” she said.
“Investment in technology and fostering new ideas to support a sustainable industry is driven by the people that live and work here. People from all parts of the world come to develop and enrich themselves, the community and our natural resources.”
Outside of her day job, Powell gives back to the community as the Chair of the Keyano Board of Governors and Director on the Wood Buffalo Community Foundation of the board of directors. She believes that being a part of a community means to give and take.
“Moving to Wood Buffalo with a young family, we were the beneficiaries of the sports and recreation infrastructure our region has to offer, along with the commitment of all the volunteers and supporters of kids activities,” she explained.
“From hockey and soccer coaches to cub scout leaders, our family was on the receiving end of everything this community has to offer. Now with my children grown, I find myself in the position to give back.”