Competing in science fairs since Grade 4, Amberly Dooley met many interesting people from an early age. One of them said to her, “It’s lovely that you’re doing [the] science fair, but as a girl, you’ll never be an engineer or anything like that.”
It’s hard to imagine any “lovely gentleman who probably had all the good intentions in the world” saying something like that today but, for Dooley, it was a trumpet call to become an engineer.
And, in fact, her temperament was more aligned with engineering and its focus on practical innovation rather than the experimentation and multiple replications of pure science. Add to that, growing up in the B.C. mountains in the 1980s in a small town that owed its existence to logging and mining, Dooley chose environmental chemical engineering with the aim of helping industry reduce its environmental impacts.
“For me, it was logical decision to pursue pollution mitigation,” she says.
Recruited straight out of the University of British Columbia by Imperial Oil—one of the few oil and gas companies that places new grads directly into its environmental department rather than first rotating them through production or other engineering roles—Dooley took on land use issues, emissions, groundwater monitoring and other tasks.
But her involvement in preparing the regulatory approvals for Imperial’s Nabiye Cold Lake heavy oil project solidified her career passion. Later, at Devon, she worked on the regulatory applications for the Jackfish and Pike thermal projects. And that eventually led her to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
“At CAPP, I do a bit more on the advocacy side for the industry as a whole. I get to see how companies do things differently,” she says. “There’s a lot of opportunity to learn something new.”
Amberly Dooley is one of the Fluor/Oilweek 2018 Rising Stars. To read all of their stories, click here.
Today, the oilsands has its challenges, but the environmental challenge is being well managed, Dooley says. The more pressing concern is the economics of competing with shale plays.
“The industry needs to continue focussing on opportunities to collaborate and innovate and forge links with communities, synergy groups and other operators to level the playing field,” she says.
On her own time, Dooley is busy inspiring a new generation of children interested in science. She was a founding member of B.C. Science Fair Foundation, served on the committee for the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair since her university days and, when she moved to Calgary—before she even knew her own office phone number—a local science fair board member called, saying, “Well, now that you’re in town, can you stop by our meeting this evening?”
“We had the science fair in April and it blows my mind every single year,” says Dooley, who is currently External Relations Chair for the Calgary Youth Science Fair Society.
“Their projects range from looking at potential ways to cure Alzheimer’s to research into all sorts of biological and engineering challenges that I don’t even pretend to understand. About 1000 students participate in the fair each year and it’s always a challenge to decide which 12 to send to the Canada-wide science fair.”
Education: Bachelor of Applied Science – Environmental Chemical Engineering, University of British Columbia, 2005
Favourite charity: Calgary Youth Science Fair
First job: First ever paid job: Copying, Graphic Design and Cashier at The Copy Desk (like Kinkos but in a small town!) First “career” role: Patent Researcher for ABB (co-op internship)
If not for your career, what would you be doing: Parlaying an interest in travel, photography and critiquing into a travel reviewer and photographer lifestyle; meaning I would basically get to travel the globe and take pictures!
Best advice received: If you are going to seek to change something, first strive to understand what needs to be changed and how that can be accomplished in order to achieve the desired outcome.
Favourite pastime: Photography and outdoor pursuits such as skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, exploring, and more.
Favourite movie: The Princess Bride
Other interests/passions: The majority of my “free” time is spent keeping up with my two active kids and encouraging them to try new things and explore the world around us.