Today’s up-and-coming leaders are helping to shape tomorrow’s energy future. Whether it’s new thinking, fresh attitudes or technical solutions, showcasing their work and vision is of tremendous value to the entire energy industry.
Daily Oil Bulletin’s Rising Stars Class of 2019 is a showcase event of the excellent work done by young emerging energy leaders.
Today, we profile Chad Ford, Sunexo Solutions Inc.
Chad Ford cofounded Sunexo Solutions in 2012 to help reduce the non-technical risks of resource development. The launch was a response to seeing how projects were getting delayed or turned down because they weren’t doing a good job of stakeholder engagement or weren’t able to prove that they were doing a good job.
Case in point: Enbridge’s Northern Gateway. The proposed pipeline to the B.C. west coast ultimately received regulatory approval, but the newly elected federal Liberal cabinet cancelled it.
“Enbridge had done an outstanding job to address stakeholder concerns, but the National Energy Board rightly pointed out that they couldn’t show how they addressed these concerns in the project design,” Ford says.
Sunexo’s flagship product is IRIS, a cloud-based software for managing stakeholder engagement and regulatory compliance. It effectively tracks engagement with hundreds, even thousands, of stakeholders across many years and makes this database readily available, irrespective of company staff changes.
“We bring a ready-to-go solution for immediately capturing stakeholder information,” Ford says. “Its automated features save time and provide capabilities that ultimately allow companies to make better business decisions because they understand the full scope of the relationships that they have and whether they have met the commitments that they said they would.”
To date, IRIS has been used on over 500 projects by some of North America’s largest companies in oil and gas, renewables and other sectors. The program is also taught at SAIT in its Energy Asset Management program and the Oil and Gas Regulations Certificate program.
Ford’s own path to stakeholder engagement took a circuitous route. While studying Political Science at the University of Alberta, he joined the Canadian Forces. Three credits short graduating, he was sent on a tour of duty to Afghanistan in 2006.
Upon his return to his home province of Alberta, he completed his studies and took a job engaging with First Nations on behalf of Shell Canada and its Klappan coalbed gas exploration project.
“I was just back from Afghanistan and now I was in northern British Columbia where a bunch of Elders were arrested the day before I showed up. So I’m out there saying, ‘Hey I’m Chad Ford with Shell. How are you doing?’ I was so naïve.”
Still, Ford was effective in his role and attributes that success to his interest in people and their stories.
From 2009 until the launch of Sunexo, Ford deepened his stakeholder engagement expertise with Calgary-based Communica, where he created a Stakeholder Information Management (SIM) department that went on to become the largest in Canada.
Outside of work, Chad is a passionate volunteer in the entrepreneurial community. In 2017, he founded the Calgary chapter of Startup Grind, a grassroots community resource for entrepreneurs. In less than two years, Ford had grown the chapter to over 1800 members, making it one of the largest in North America.
“One of the reasons I launched it was because I felt the start-up ecosystem in Calgary often seemed very anti-energy. Energy wasn’t seen as ‘real tech,’ like Facebook, but the modern energy industry is a tech industry. So we bridge that perceived gap between energy and the start-up tech ecosystem,” he says.