Class of 2010 - JuneWarren-Nickle's Energy Group

Class of 2010 - JuneWarren-Nickle's Energy Group


Although 13 in number, the 2010 class of Rising Stars is

a diverse group destined to make their own luck in the

Canadian oil and gas industry


t the risk of tempting fate, Oilweek’s 2010

A class of Rising Stars counts 13 among its

inductees—12 if you consider that two were

nominated as a team by a member of the

2009 class and will tie the knot sometime this


As with past searches, we went to our

readers for their suggestions, and this past

February our selection committee—Oilweek

publisher Agnes Zalewski, Oilweek editor Dale

Lunan, and John Waiand and Kevin Morihira

from our Rising Stars sponsor KPMG—began

culling through the nominations, searching for

the right mix of brains and ambition, common

sense and common touch.

Our 13 inductees range from a self-made

vice-president of one of Canada’s largest

service contractors to our soon-to-be-wed partners,

who launched their oilpatch careers on

separate sales tracks but are now partnered in

Calgary’s first dedicated geoexchange drilling

company, bringing geothermal energy solutions

to commercial and residential customers

across Canada.

There are a couple of communications professionals

in the class, helping their respective

associations respond to a daunting assault on

the industry by environmental activist groups

from around the world, and more than one

environmental professional dedicated to making

Canada’s upstream oil and gas business the

greenest it can be.

They’re having a substantial impact in

their respective business lives: Kim Farwell,

for example, is hydroprocessing operations

support leader for Syncrude Canada in Fort

McMurray, but she’s also the current president

of the Association of Professional Engineers,

Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta and

is a director of the Fort McMurray Chamber

of Commerce.

And they’re having significant impacts

on the lives of others in their communities:

Jonathan Moser helps with the ongoing public

relations tasks for the Terry Fox Run in Calgary,

while Janet Annesley is a national board member

for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth

Fry Societies and serves on the local boards of

Inside Education and the Calgary Counselling


Take a few minutes to meet Oilweek’s Rising

Stars for 2010. They will be honoured at a

reception in June at Calgary’s Hotel Arts.

Visit for exclusive

video interviews with our Rising Stars | 23

active with the Canadian

association of elizabeth fry

societies, Janet also gives

her time to inside education

and the Calgary Counselling


As vice-president,

communications for CAPP,

Janet spends many hours

meeting her industry

members at the Calgary

Petroleum Club. She’s

shown here in the Pete

Club’s extensive wine cellar.

Janet Annesley, 37

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)

Vice-president, communications

24 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

When someone calls Janet Annesley for career advice saying, “I’d really

like to get into communications because I’m really good with people,”

she has to break them the news that communications is about a lot more

than being good with people.

“You need to understand peoples’ perspectives and their needs, but you

also spend a lot of time staring at your computer screen,” she says. “You have

to be analytical to put together a lot of the business information. You need

a good eye for detail to make sure things are accurate. And you need to be

able to think critically about the things people tell you. So it’s the right balance

between people skills and the analytical and critical-thinking skills.”

You could say Janet has pretty much nailed this balance as a third

generation communications professional. There are three generations of

communications experience in her family: her father was in oil and gas communications

for more than 30 years. And her grandfather, a mining engineer,

ended his life-long career at the Aluminum Company of Canada in public

affairs and government relations.

As the first female executive team member at CAPP, Janet is responsible

for the full sweep of communications tasks, from issues management and

media relations to web strategy, social media, and member relations. She

also takes on an advisory role that calls upon her expertise and mastery of

oil and gas issues acquired at Royal Dutch Shell, where she led a communications

team of 13 in the company’s newest and perhaps most controversial

business, the oilsands.

“The opportunity [at CAPP] really appealed to me because of the challenges

the oil and gas industry faces,” Janet says. “As one of the board members said

to me shortly after I joined, ‘You’re doing God’s work now.’” ★

Family: Married to Erik langberg

Education: Studied English at University of Calgary

and University of Montana; Bachelor of Applied

Communications, Public Relations, Mount Royal


Favourite charity: Canadian Association of Elizabeth

Fry Societies, as a volunteer in Calgary and as national

board member; also board member of Inside Education;

and board member of Calgary Counselling Centre

First job: harvey’s restaurant (“I still love their fries!”);

first professional job was with Alberta Family and

Social Services as junior public affairs officer.

Best advice received: Follow the Golden Rule—Do

unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If not in her current career, what would she be doing?

She has a lot of energy and curiosity, so she’d either be

at home with a bunch of kids, working for a compelling

cause, and/or incarcerated.

Favourite pastime: Cooking and entertaining friends

Favourite book: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Other passions: She’s a newlywed, so her best times

involve her husband, family, friends, lots of good food,

and laughter.

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January 12, 2010 | 25

a transplanted texan—where he led Burlington resources’ united

Way campaigns in midland—tom now gives his spare time to a

variety of organizations, from his local community association to the

Canadian heart and stroke foundation and habitat for humanity.

tom and a crew of his Caltex

energy employees had a role in

helping habitat for humanity on

this recent Calgary project.

Tom Bieschke, 37

Caltex Energy

Co-founder, president, and chief executive officer

26 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

One of Tom Bieschke’s fondest memories is when he and business partner,

Brett Wrathall, went to get a light table and fiche reader. Tom was driving

the pickup and Brett was in the back making sure the equipment didn’t

tip over. In that vehicle was the company’s entire workforce and supplies.

Today Caltex Energy is a private oil and gas junior with 7,000 barrels a day

of production and 60 employees. Considering that cross-town haul took place

not even five years ago, it’s no wonder Tom also considers Caltex his biggest

professional accomplishment.

“It’s been a great ride, but it’s also a great responsibility. It certainly brings

home that there a lot of paycheques on the line,” Tom says, characteristically

grounding his thoughts of success with a deep regard for the people around

him. You can see this quality in action even in the mundane daily tasks like

returning calls.

“When Tom gets a message, he’ll dial right back. He respects the

people around him, and that respect runs up and down the organization,”

says Wrathall, Caltex’s co-founder.

Coming to Alberta from Texas 10 years ago with Burlington Resources

as a production engineer, Tom took all of a year and a half before starting a

company of his own with some partners. That company was Krang Energy,

which grew from no production to 5,000 barrels a day before being sold to

Harvest Energy. Further building on his engineering strengths, he launched

Caltex a few days later.

“My university summer work programs were in West Texas and New Mexico,

which is probably why I always considered myself a well-paid plumber,” he

says. “I love trying to squeeze that extra barrel or Mcf [thousand cubic feet]

out of an area where maybe somebody else has tried before.” ★

Family: Married to Stephanie, with three boys: Jake (4),

Will (2), and Sam (11 months)

Education: Two Bachelor of Science degrees

(Petroleum Engineering & Mechanical Engineering)

from Texas A&M University

Favourite charity: Caltex Energy sponsors what is

important to its people—from hockey and softball

teams to work days at habitat for humanity and United

Way. When the earthquake hit haiti, the Caltex management

team matched staff donations and the company

raised over $20,000 in less than two weeks.

First job: Started a lawn-mowing business in 4th grade

Best advice received: love what you do and you’ll

never work a day in your life.

If not in his current career, what would he be doing?

Teaching—maybe engineering, math, or science

Favourite pastime: hanging out with my family—

whether it’s wrestling/playing with the boys, sharing a

meal together, or going camping

Favourite movie: The Band of Brothers TV miniseries

Other passions: he loves sports, whether it’s playing

team sports like football, softball, or volleyball; or individual

sports like golf, hunting, and fishing. he and his

wife also love travelling.

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michelle’s another on the growing list of newfoundlanders who’ve

made a mark in western Canada. she favours the Canadian Progress

Club, and in particular its empowering families program, with

whatever spare time she can come up with.

Michelle can often be

found meeting with

provincial officials at the

Alberta government’s

southern headquarters,

Mcdougall Centre in

downtown Calgary.

Michelle Chidley, 31

Small Explorers and Producers Association of Canada (SEPAC)

Event and communications director

28 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

As a recent business and public-relations graduate, Michelle Chidley moved from

her native Newfoundland to Calgary in the boom days of 2005. Her first interview

turned into a position with a prominent communications firm. Just as quickly

and seemingly effortlessly, she ended up working for Jim Prentice, Diane Urquhart,

and Jim Dinning.

Michelle has that kind of appeal. People—often in high places—want her on their

public-relations teams. Some people are masters of drive, determination, and push;

Michelle is a natural at creating pull.

“Jim Prentice needed some help in an upcoming campaign,” she recalls. “I wasn’t

particularly interested in politics at the time, so it was more me interviewing him

than him interviewing me. But he impressed me. So I said okay.”

Working in Prentice’s constituency office, Michelle caught the political bug. She liked

the people that politics attracted and easily moved from federal to municipal to provincial

political communications roles. Michelle completed the circle when Prentice called

again, this time as a minister in Canada’s ruling party. Would she be his communications

adviser for Alberta and the Territories? It was an offer Michelle couldn’t refuse.

Over time though, the demands of politics took their toll and Michelle contemplated

a better life/work balance, which she found at SEPAC as a part-time event

planner. Crafting the organization’s first formal communication plan, Michelle’s

responsibilities soon expanded. She convinced the association’s board, embittered

by the ill-fated royalty review, to pursue a course of relationship-building with the

Alberta government. That work reached out to politicians, media, and opinion-leaders

and gave a stronger voice to small producers.

“It’s an easy story to tell—who doesn’t like an entrepreneur?” she says. “We’ve

been quite engaged in the Competitiveness Review, which is partly an outcome of

the relationship-building.” ★

Family: Partner, Mike

Education: Bachelor of Business

Administration (majored in Management),

St. Francis Xavier University;

Certificate of Public Relations Management,

McGill University

Favourite charity: Canadian Progress Club,

especially the Empowering Families program

First job: She had a paper route when she

was 10

Best advice received: Dress for the job you

want, not the job you have.

If not in her current career, what would she

be doing? horse trainer or makeup artist

Favourite pastime: Being in the mountains,

particularly hiking or skiing

Favourite movie or book: Gone with the Wind

Other passions: Playing instruments and

singing songs with good friends and family

(otherwise known as a Newfoundland

kitchen party). Also, skiing, dancing,

volunteering, music, family, home

(Newfoundland), horses.

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lars was the first

environmental hire at

Penn West energy. now

he’s helping the Canadian

association of Petroleum

Producers strengthen its

stewardship programs and

working with the alberta

ecotrust foundation to

ensure philanthropic

funding to environmental

causes is distributed wisely.

when he’s not at CAPP helping

fine-tune stewardship programs,

Lars can be found in his office at

Penn west energy.

Lars De Pauw, 36

Penn West Energy

Manager, environment and reclamation

30 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

lars De Pauw has some large shoes to fill. His father and mentor is a genetic

scientist who received the Order of Canada for his work.

At the award ceremony, Lars recalls listening to some of the most accomplished

people in Canada and considering his own professional trajectory. More specifically,

he was thinking—both in the big-picture sense and the immediate context—“What

am I doing here?”

The answer came later in the idea of balance. He recognized that his father’s

priority was work, whereas Lars, as much as he loves his job, aims to strike a

work/life balance.

That said, Lars is no slouch professionally either. He has a Master’s in environmental

engineering. He was the first environmental hire at Penn West. And for

the last two years, he has acted as chair for several stewardship task groups for

the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, including the Benchmarking

and Stewardship Redesign working groups.

Growing up in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Lars decided on the promising field

of environmental engineering at Guelph University in Ontario. He recalls his co-op

work with Environment Canada doing greenhouse gas calculations.

“At the time, people were saying how crazy that was and asking what the point of

it was,” he says. “That was 1994 and the industry has come a long way since. But the

environmental industry is still young. We really just got going in the last 10 years.”

Lars’ ability to strike a balance is a useful skill in the oilpatch. Since it doesn’t

generate revenue, the environmental component is typically considered a cost of

doing business.

“I wouldn’t call myself a traditional tree hugger—or is that shrub hugger on

the Prairies,” he says. “But there’s definitely right ways of development and wrong

ways…. We need to ensure it’s done properly.” ★

Family: Married to Pamela, daughter Erika (4),

and son luke (18 months)

Education: B.Sc. in environmental engineering;

M.Sc., environmental engineering honours

Favourite charity: Just began his involvement

with Alberta Ecotrust Foundation; chairs

stewardship task groups at CAPP; coaches

community soccer

First job: Research assistant at Environment

Canada developing methodologies for estimating

greenhouse gas emissions from various

industrial and non-industrial sources

Best advice received: May you love one

another, not in word or speech, but in truth and


If not in his current career, what would he be

doing? “Golf pro, but I’m not good enough to

make any money at it.”

Favourite pastime: Anything with his family,

snowboarding, golf

Favourite book: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Other passions: Spending time with friends,

enjoying the outdoors, eating scrumptious food,

and having a good time


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one of syncrude Canada’s

leading extractionside

engineers, kim

is currently serving as

president of the alberta

association of Professional

engineers, geologists and

geophysicists. she’s also

actively involved with the

fort mcmurray Chamber

of Commerce and is the

official spokeswoman

for fort mcmurray’s my

Community my Voice


kim is a key leader of Syncrude

Canada’s extraction and

hydroprocessing teams.

Photo by Ben Ricetto

Kim Farwell, 39

Syncrude Canada

Operations support leader—hydroprocessing

32 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

With the Syncrude court case underway, many in Fort McMurray, Alberta, have

heard more about ducks than they ever cared to hear. A growing sentiment

is, “I don’t want to hear anything more about ducks unless they’re on the menu.”

So while a Rising Star directly from Syncrude’s ranks amidst this unrest may

raise some eyebrows, it also speaks volumes about Kim Farwell. As a chemical

engineer, she’s a brilliant process troubleshooter who combines analytical

and creative thinking to ferret out the causes of operational breakdowns, trend

data, and optimize operations. As an MBA, her management skills benefit from

strategic thinking and understanding the broader perspective.

But it’s as a person and community builder that Kim particularly shines.

“You have to be part of the community to be happy and feel like you’re contributing,”

she says.

That philosophy isn’t always apparent in Canada’s frontier towns, which are

often just waypoints in people’s careers. When Kim arrived in Fort McMurray from

Ontario 16 years ago, however, she made it her home by plugging into a long list

of organizations and charities.

Today, she is the director of the city’s Chamber of Commerce and its official

spokeswoman for the My Community My Voice initiative. She’s also president of

the local Electoral District Association, the current president of the Association

of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta, and a volunteer

for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, to name a few of her community roles.

As for the ducks, she says, “Having followed a lot of industrial issues, there are

a lot of things to not be proud of. But the oilsands really isn’t one of them. This is

an industry that has tried to learn things from other industries, so it’s a bit sad

to be in this situation now. But you can’t be this big and not draw attention. We

just have to make sure that the right checks and balances are in place.” ★

Education: BA Sc Chemical Engineering,

University of Waterloo, 1995; Certificate in

Oilsands Technology, University of Alberta

Faculty of Extension, 1999; MBA, University

of Alberta, 2002

Favourite charity: Crohn’s and Colitis

Foundation, and extensive involvement in

community groups

First job: Construction flag person

Best advice received: You are playing in the

world’s biggest sandbox—have fun!

If not in her current career, what would she be

doing? Out in space—possibly as an astronaut,

or an actress. Or dabbling in politics—a political

journalist or a star of This Hour Has 22 Minutes

Favourite pastime: Being on the water at the

cottage in Ontario or on the lakes and rivers of

Northern Alberta

Favourite book: Paddle-to-the-Sea by holling

Clancy holling

Other passions: Skiing, rollerblading, wakeboarding—any

sport that involves strapping

strange things to her feet. Yoga and dance,

customizing cars, and politics.

Fueling industry

since 1989. | 33

Bryan has quickly become part of the “green conscience” at devon Canada. he’s helped

devise methods for using produced water in shale gas fracs. away from the office, he

serves as treasurer for his homeowners’ association, helps out with neighbourhood

beautification programs, and has been active in devon’s annual united Way campaigns.

Bryan’s green engineering

ideas have helped devon

Canada reduce its carbon


Bryan Helfenbaum, 34

Devon Canada Corporation

Exploitation leader, northwest region

34 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

Driving through a windswept prairie dotted with distant windmills on his

way to Devon’s gas plant in Coleman, Alberta, it just flat out bugged Bryan

Helfenbaum that there were no windmills in the windy pass.

So in thinking about the company’s mountaintop facility, which consumed a

considerable amount of electricity from the grid, Bryan did some research and

pitched his bosses on the idea of installing a 1.65-megawatt wind turbine. This

year, a gleaming new windmill stands in the Crowsnest Pass.

“We’re effectively offsetting all of the greenhouse gas emissions from that

plant,” says the former Torontonian who came west in 1999. “It’s a hedge on electricity

costs, and we’re now an electricity producer instead of [just] a consumer.”

The environmental ideas Bryan has turned into reality at Devon Canada aren’t

necessarily new, but their application in oil and gas often is. He isn’t afraid to

think outside the box and stand behind his ideas.

“Of course, risk-taking only works when you’re in an organization that embraces

entrepreneurial innovation,” Bryan notes. An MBA behind his name also helps

recommend his ideas.

Some of Bryan’s other innovations, which earned him recognition from the

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and newspaper write-ups, include

a Devon pilot program testing natural gas use in the company’s fleet of vehicles.

Another made Devon one of the first in the industry to use produced rather than

fresh water in their fracs.

For anyone who doubts an individual can make a positive difference in this

world, Bryan has this to say: “When I started work and saw the scale of industry, I

saw how much waste is generated. One day’s worth of waste at the industrial level

dwarfs anything that a household can do. Realizing that, a few small improvements

in industry can do amazing things. Here, one person can make a huge difference.” ★

Family: Married to lori, son Zachary (3), second

child on the way

Education: Chemical/Environmental Engineer,

University of Waterloo; MBA, University of


Favourite charity: United Way. he has also

used his songwriting and guitar-playing talents

to fundraise; treasurer of his local homeowners’

association; will be coaching soccer this


First job: Reservoir engineer, Imperial Oil; before

that, cashier at McDonald’s, and door-to-door

vacuum cleaner salesman (seriously!)

Best advice received: Scare yourself once a


If not in his current career, what would he be

doing? General manager/coach of the Toronto

Maple leafs, leading them to the Stanley Cup.

Otherwise, something more realistic, like developing

cold fusion or teaching pigs to fly.

Favourite pastime: Sports and general silliness

with his three-year-old son

Favourite movie or book: Lord of the Rings

Other passions: hockey, soccer, hiking, camping,

guitar, poker


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Oilweek, Oilsand Review, Oil and G | 35

the youngest partner at Burnet duckworth & Palmer, James has

established his own donor-directed fund through the Calgary

foundation, and also gives freely of his time to the united Way and

to the many charitable organizations supported by BdP.

James kidd is the youngest

partner at Burnet, duckworth

& Palmer—his pal gracie often

accompanies him to work.

James Kidd, 33

Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer llP


36 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

lawyering runs in James Kidd’s blood. His father is a lawyer with a general

practice out of Ponoka, Alberta. His father’s father was a judge in Calgary.

His father’s mother was also a lawyer, though she never practiced.

“And my mom’s grandfather, my great grandfather, was actually Frank Burnet,

the namesake to the firm,” James says.

So it was many unseen eyes that looked over young James’s shoulder as he

finished his Bachelor of Arts (honours in philosophy, minor in economics and

drama) at Bishop’s University in Québec and considered his next steps.

Having thoroughly enjoyed his undergraduate studies, he wanted to continue

his education and it was a toss-up between getting a Master’s in philosophy and

law school. Somewhere, there must have been a collective family cheer—or at least

a sigh of relief—when he opted for the road more travelled, by his family, at least.

Today, James is the youngest partner in one of Calgary’s top law firms. His

entire focus is oil and gas mergers and acquisitions.

“I absolutely love the practice of law,” he says.

What he admires most in others is hard work and determination. What he

attributes his success to is the team.

“I can look to the right and to the left of me, one floor up, or one floor down and

find some of the best practitioners in Canada. That’s an amazing resource,” he says.

That generous acknowledgment is rooted in James’s love of the community,

which also finds expression in James and fiancée Laurie’s newly established

family donor–advised fund through the Calgary Foundation. Seeded with their

own capital, grown through annual contributions and a dedicated life insurance

policy, the fund should ensure a sizable endowment.

“We’re also going to use it in connection with our wedding,” James says. “In

lieu of receiving gifts, we’re making it clear to our guests we’d like them to make

a donation to our fund, if they are so inclined.” ★

Family: Fiancée laurie (wedding in November), and

a black lab

Education: B.A., honours philosophy with a double minor

in economics and drama, Bishop’s University; Bachelor of

laws, University of Alberta

Favourite charity: James and laurie’s newly established

donor-directed fund through the Calgary Foundation, as

well as United Way and the many other charitable initiatives

supported by Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer

First job: Ranch hand

Best advice received: You have to step out of a cave to

see the sun.

If not in his current career, what would he be doing?

A cattle rancher carrying on his grandfather (laurence

Boyd) and his grandfather’s tradition of raising “cattalo”

(cross-breeding cattle bulls with bison cows)—the

respect for tradition appeals to him.

Favourite pastime: Pretending I’m the Dog Whisperer with

our dog Gracie only to realize I’m the one being whispered to.

Favourite movie or book: Movie—Any James Bond movie;

book—To Kill a Mockingbird

Other passions: Early-morning water skiing and contemporary

art. Both are challenging. Waterskiing for the obvious

reason and contemporary art for trying to interpret what a

particular artist is communicating in his or her work.

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a resident of fort st. John, in the heart of the booming shale plays of

northeastern British Columbia, lance gives his time to the Canadian Cancer

Walk, to a local hospital and to the fort st. John tae kwon do society. you can

usually find him puttering in his greenhouse in any of his other spare time.

one of Lance kile’s outof-pastimes

is working in

his greenhouse—a slightly

smaller version of the one

here at Bluegrass Nursery

& garden Centre.

Lance Kile, 39

CCS Midstream Services

General manager of operations, NEBC

38 | oilweek May 2010


Logotype version Pantone


82, bd des Batignolles - 75017 Paris - FRANCE

Tél. : +33 (0)1 53 42 35 35 / Fax : +33 (0)1 42 94 06 78

Web :




rising stars

As a manager, one of the most gratifying things for Lance Kile is seeing

people grow into bigger roles. Some of the folks he’s worked with have

even called him just to say, “Thanks, you helped me in my career.”

Lance has come a long way in his own career with CCS, a treatment, recovery

and petroleum by-products disposal leader in western Canada. Eleven

years ago, he started at its Unity, Saskatchewan, salt cavern as an operator

and worked his way up through the ranks to area general manager in

northeastern British Columbia. In this latest role, he earned CCS’s Werklund

Leadership Award for 2008-09. (The founder of CCS, David Werklund, was the

recipient of Ernst & Young’s Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2005.)

But it’s the occasional phone call of gratitude that reminds Lance of what

he’s always maintained: making a positive difference in this world happens

one person at time.

While Lance has the usual skill set of a manager—an aptitude for

strategy-charting, goal-setting, and motivating others—what sets him apart

is the respect and trust he feels for those around him. He also goes out of his

way to make the workplace a positive and fun environment, which earns him

sometimes fiercely loyal employees.

“I’ve always said, ‘The day Lance goes, I’ll quit,” says CCS area administrator

Lynn Yake. “He has a great sense of humour and a way with people.”

Beyond his time with CCS, Lance comes by these people skills through a

varied professional and social background, including a stint as a town councillor,

sitting on library boards, and involving himself in a variety of non-profit


“Surround yourself with the right people” is Lance’s motto. ★

Family: Married to Sherry, stepson Richard (25), daughter

Regan (15)

Education: Fifth-Class Power Engineering; Wildlife,

Forestry Conservation Diploma

Favourite charities: Various company initiatives in support

of the Canadian Cancer Walk, a local hospital, and his

involvement with the Fort St. John Tae Kwon Do Society

First job: In the oilpatch it was Mike’s Mobile Mechanical

Best advice received: Work smarter not harder. ”I have

used this as a guide throughout my career. It’s not all about

making the job easier; it’s to achieve the best possible outcome

to any situation.”

If not in his current career, what would he be doing?

Following the wildlife/forestry path he had started down 20

years ago, a park warden perhaps

Favourite pastime: he really enjoys spending time in his


Favourite movie: Black Hawk Down, the movie adaptation

of Mark Bowden’s book

Other passions: Tae kwon do has become a strong passion

over the last two and half years. This is something that he

enjoys doing with his daughter. he also loves taking kickboxing

classes with his wife. Reading, fishing, and boating

fill out the rest.

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originally destined to

become a rancher, Brad got

sidetracked into the well

servicing business early

on, and was hooked. now,

he spends his free time

motorcycling across north

america with his wife and

two kids and helping out

with organizations like

habitat for humanity.

Brad, his wife, and two small

children have already visited

disneyland via motorcycle–their

next excursion is planned for

disney world in florida.

Brad Kingston, 38

Savanna Well Servicing

Vice-president and general manager

40 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

This summer, if you see two motorcyclists—one bike hooked to a sidecar with

two grinning little children, and the other a cruiser towing a small trailer—you

can be reasonably certain it’s Brad Kingston and his clan. They’ll be headed from

Calgary to Disney World in Florida. And then back.

Sure they know how far that is. Last summer, they rode to Disneyland in

California and back.

“The kids love it. They’re asking all the time when we’re going riding,” Brad says.

A lot of people give up the things they love doing when they start a family. Brad

and his wife Lisa included their family in their passion. Since they were born, their

children Eva and Jude have ridden 30,000 kilometres—and the eldest is only four.

Of course, this takes a bit of confidence and initiative. It always does to shape

a life in the way you want. But these qualities are not in short supply with Brad.

Growing up in Brooks, two career streams typically awaited: the rigs or Lakeside

Packers (the local slaughterhouse). Brad was having neither of them; he wanted

to be a cattle rancher. That is, until a family friend convinced him to help on a rig

one September long weekend 18 years ago.

Turns out Brad liked the money, the hard work, and the team atmosphere.

His work grad ually shifted away from equipment to people and he took on more

responsibilities. One of his proudest professional moments was his role in bringing

together the current company after a merger with Great Plains Well Servicing

and the acquisition of a couple of smaller companies.

“There’s the adage, ‘I won’t believe it until I see it.’ For me it’s more, ‘You can’t

see it until you believe it,” he says.

This inner direction guided Brad from roughneck to vice-president of Savanna Well

Servicing. He always believed it was possible. He always told people what his intentions were.

So just for the record, Brad has this to add: “I certainly have intentions of moving

further within this organization.” ★

Family: Married to lisa, daughter Eva (4),

son Jude (2)

Education: Grade 12

Favourite charity: habitat for humanity and the

numerous charitable initiatives supported by


First job: Sweeping floors at a local department store

Best advice received: Always share your intentions.

“Too often people assume others know what

their expectations and desires are, only to be left

behind. I realized doing this small thing opened many


If not in his current career, what would he be doing?

“After high school, I had full intentions of cattle

ranching. I pursued this for many years and managed

to get 50 head of cattle and a small place south

of Brooks. The service rigs pulled me away from this

time-wise, and I changed my focus.”

Favourite pastime: Riding my motorcycles throughout

North America, and attending motorcycle

fundraising functions with his family.

Favourite book: The Shack by William P. Young

Other passions: Camping and quadding with his family,

snowmobiling, attending automotive events of

any kind. Enjoys building and carpentry projects. | 41

Oilweek’s rising star

duo for 2010, Jason and

melanie share their working

days, but pursue somewhat

divergent tracks outside

the office. for Jason, his

philanthropic efforts are

directed to habitat for

humanity and the heart

and stroke foundation of

Canada, while melanie is

involved with Big Brothers

Big sisters of Calgary, the

salvation army’s agape

hospice, and Calgary

Women in energy, among


Jason and Melanie have plans

to marry this summer—and

a possible location for their

nuptials is Calgary’s historic

knox united Church.

Jason Munro, 37

Melanie Hamilton, 33

GeoWest Drilling Services

Co-founder and president (Jason)

Co-founder and managing partner (Melanie)

42 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

One of the hardest things about running

a company with your significant other

is knowing when to quit talking about the


“Sometimes it’s eight or nine in the

evening and Mel will look at me and say,

‘We’ve got to talk about something else,’”

says Jason Munro.

In the nine years the couple has been

together, both halves charted successful

sales careers in oil and gas services.

Melanie capped her time in the oilpatch

as a co-founder in a production optimization

company, but was dealt an unethical

card that forced her out of the company.

The upside to that ordeal—if pressed to

find one—was Melanie’s realization that

trust and loyalty needed to form the

corner stone of any future venture.

As for Jason’s oil and gas sales career,

in its later years he couldn’t shake the

sense that he could do more than hawk

other people’s goods. This led him back

to university. After completing his MBA

in 2005, the couple took a trip to Thailand

and reconsidered their lives.

At the back of both of their minds was

a desire to make a difference in society.

Both were drawn to green technologies.

So when a good friend in British Columbia

talked to them about geothermal heating,

Jason ran a business case on launching

the first Calgary-based drilling company

dedicated to geoexchange and decided it

had legs.

They bought a shallow drilling rig

just before the downturn. A rocky ride

through the recession followed. But now

the business has turned the corner—

albeit with sales in Ontario, where the

technology is better understood.

“One of the challenges they face is

they’re at the front end of the adoption

curve,” says Jason’s father and mentor,

Neil Munro, chief executive officer of

Seven Energy Canada. “There’s certainly

a need for the technology, and I’m incredibly

impressed with their dedication and

tenacity in pursuing geothermal. They

work like dogs and they deserve some

kudos.” ★


Family: Fiancée Melanie hamilton, labrador

named Red

Education: BA, psychology; MBA, Queen’s

University, Kingston, Ontario

Favourite charities: habitat for humanity and

heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

First job: Calgary Co-op

Best advice received: listen to your intuition.

If not in his current career, what would he be

doing? Travelling and spending more time with

family and friends

Favourite pastime: Running and biking

Favourite book: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Other passions: loves to play hockey when time

allows, and golf.


Family: Fiancé Jason Munro, labrador named Red

Education: Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation

from the University of Calgary; ongoing

GeoExchange industry courses and training


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Favourite charities: Big Brothers Big Sisters,

Salvation Army Agapé hospice, Calgary Food

Bank, Red Cross, Calgary Women in Energy

First job: Cashier at OK! Economy grocery store

Best advice received: Growing up, her grand father

always emphasized: “People’s true character

comes to light in times of hardship. It takes a very

long time before you really know somebody.”

Another favourite piece of advice: Doing things

right is always in fashion!

If not in her current career, what would she be

doing? Travelling the world experiencing other

ways of life and culture, and volunteering in


Favourite pastime: Soaking up the sun, lake scenery,

and water activities in the interior of British


Favourite book: The Seven Spiritual Laws of

Success by Deepak Chopra

Other passions: Family and close friends, eating,

walking trails, and serving people and


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a political junkie since the age of 23, Jonathan has spent time on Parliament hill, where he has managed the

day-to-day activities of former prime minister Paul martin and served as director of parliamentary affairs for

the federal minister of health. these days you’ll find him in a quieter environment, helping the Calgary terry

fox run meet its public relations needs and serving as a board member for mckenzie towne council.

dow’s Calgary headquarters,

where Jonathan spends his

off-the-road work hours, is

in the heart of the downtown

construction zone.

Jonathan Moser, 39

Dow Chemical Canada UlC

Manager, government affairs and public policy

44 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

At the tender age of 23, Jonathan Moser was already a hardened political

junkie. Chalk it up to falling in with the wrong crowd early in life: several

years as a Young Liberal at the University of British Columbia; a long history

as class president or vice-president in high school, junior high school, and

even grade school; captain of the school rugby team; and miscellaneous leadership

roles within any group in search of direction.

So with some high expectations and the ink still drying on his political

science degree, Jonathan set out for Parliament Hill. There he mailed out letters

to Members of Parliament asking for work, sat back, and waited for the

phone to start ringing.

And it did.

“The hook in my letters was ‘If you don’t have a paying job for me, I’d love

to come in and volunteer,’” Jonathan says.

And there was no shortage of tasks MPs Marlene Catterall and Lloyd

Axworthy needed doing before the 1993 federal election. In short order,

Catterall hired him on.

Here are some of Jonathan’s high watermarks from his 10 years in Ottawa:

senior advisor, operations in the Office of the Prime Minister, managing the

day-to-day activities of former prime minister Paul Martin; director of parliamentary

affairs for the Federal Minister of Health; senior advisor for British

Columbia; and director of political appointments.

Impressive yes, but the pull of Jonathan’s western Canadian roots eventually

brought him to Calgary. Here he re-geared his public sector experience

for the private sector and hit his stride with Dow Chemical. Getting the position

demanded a six-hour marathon of interviews, but for an accomplished

polit ical junkie in his prime, six hours of talk is like clearing his throat. ★

Family: Married to Catherine, daughter Madison (7),

son Duran (5), and English bulldog Guinness

Education: BA, political science, University of British

Columbia, 1992

Charitable activities: Terry Fox Run, member of public

relations team; Grey Cup Committee volunteer in 2009;

United Way campaign volunteer; McKenzie Towne

Council board member; community soccer coach; and

past board member of Fund for a New Generation

First job: Yard assistant, Beaver lumber,

Kamloops, B.C.

Best advice received: Although difficult, being patient

sometimes is the best approach to resolving an issue

and may bring the best results.

If not in his current career, what would he be doing?

Professional athlete or a sports broadcaster

Favourite pastime: Family time

Favourite books: Generation X by Douglas Coupland,

and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Other passions: Politics, sports (playing, watching,

coaching), and being in the great outdoors | 45

another transplant to Canada from south of the border, dave came to edmonton from

atlanta, georgia, where he was actively involved with the u.s. special olympics

organization. here in Canada, he gives his time to the kids forever foundation in fort

mcmurray and to various children’s organizations in edmonton and fort mcmurray.

Relaxing briefly before hitting

the road again, david reflects

on his athletic pursuits.

David J. Witsken, 42

Aluma Systems

President, Canada region

46 | oilweek May 2010

ising stars

Dave Witsken keeps a pile of rocks on a shelf behind his desk. He picked up one of them

from a beach in Hawaii when he competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship.

The others are souvenirs from several mountains he’s climbed (including Mount Rainier,

a glacier climb, and Mount Whitney, the highest in the contiguous United States. He now

has his eyes set on Alaska’s Mount McKinley, at 20,320 feet the highest in North America.)

While he’s reaching such great heights in his personal life, he’s making sure Aluma Systems

rises there too.

Dave became president of Aluma Systems (a wholly owned division of Georgia-based

Brand Services) in late 2006 when he moved to Edmonton from Atlanta. He is responsible

for approximately 4,000 employees and generating revenue of over $600 million.

Recently, the company did some restructuring, adding the eastern United States to Dave’s

responsibilities, and while his work schedule keeps him busy—and often on the road—he

still manages to find time to spend with his children, and speaks of them with immense

pride. His oldest son just received a four-year scholarship to study engineering at Louisiana

State University; his daughter is near the top of her high school class; his elite-level tennisplaying

twin sons are also in the academics honours program.

Building on years spent as a volunteer with the U.S. Special Olympics, Dave now focuses most

of his personal community activities on children’s programs, and Aluma Systems supports the

Kids Forever Foundation in Fort McMurray, Alberta. In the days following the Haitian earthquake,

the company donated $30,000 with a proviso that the funding be directed to children’s charities.

In his professional capacity with Aluma Systems, Dave sits on the board of directors of the

Construction Labour Relations Association of Alberta. He is a member of the Construction

Owners Association of Alberta and the WorkFace Planning Committee, and is a certified black

belt holder in the Six Sigma management program. Under his leadership, Aluma Systems

received Suncor Energy’s President’s Award in contractor team safety for safety leadership.

If Dave’s goal is just to get better continuously, then it’ll be exciting to see what he does

to top all of this. ★

Family: Married to Kim, with children

Nathan (18), Kylie (16), Quinn and

Keenan (14)

Education: Bachelor of Science in

Mechanical Engineering, University

of Cincinnati; MBA, Westminster


First job: Machinist, GE Aircraft

Engines Metallurgical lab

Best advice received: have great

people in your corner and return the

favour as often as you can.

If not in his current career, what

would he be doing? Producer and

host of an adventure travel television

show or running barefoot cruise sailboat

expeditions in the Caribbean

Favourite pastime: New experiences

with family and good friends, and

coaching kids’ sports

Favourite movie: Saving Private Ryan

because of the ‘earn this’ message

Other passions: Fitness, competitive

sports, adventure travel

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