2021 Rising Star awards attract 30 nominations

Leader. Collaborator. Mentor. Advocate for diversity and inclusion. Technology savvy.  

Those are just a few of the attributes of the 30 outstanding young professionals — including 12 women — who have been nominated as Rising Stars of 2021. They are prepared to seize the opportunities offered by an industry beginning to recover from the double whammy of an extended downturn followed by a global pandemic, just as prices begin to strengthen. At the same time there is a recognition that the world has changed and the energy industry is being expected to demonstrate its commitment to environment, social and governance and a number of the nominees are employed or have founded companies committed to working with their clients on ESG.

The Rising Stars program, sponsored by the Daily Oil Bulletin, Fluor Canada and geoLOGIC systems ltd., celebrates the dynamic young leaders who have faith that the Canadian energy sector — although it might not look the same — continues to offer opportunities for a new generation. They come from various disciplines including technology, finance, communications, engineering, environmental management, and business development and analysis.

The nominees for 2021 are:

Brett Baron: After seven years of experience as a Geomatics Technologist, Baron switched to the Occupational Health and Safety group at Wood Canada Ltd. as Infrastructure and Water Resources team lead. At the start of the global pandemic, Baron established a nationwide procurement contract to secure and acquire personal protective equipment and pandemic supplies to help keep Wood staff members safe against the spread of Covid-19 and maintain business continuity. This was done without prompting from management. Baron is currently completing his Occupational Health and Safety diploma at the University of Calgary along with working to attain his National Construction Safety Officer designation. Recently Baron stepped into the role of Health and Safety and Logistics lead on a major pipeline project at Wood. Since assuming the role, he led a team of GIS specialists to develop a sophisticated spatially interactive software application conducive for environmental and construction program tracking and data storage for pipeline projects. It included a paired mobile application that field personnel could use to get up-to-date information before accessing a property. The application is now used in Wood’s other field programs across many disciplines.

Paolo Bomben: As senior manager of Clean Technology Development at Alberta Innovates, Bomben leads the Bitumen Beyond Combustion (BBC) program, a transformational opportunity for Alberta and Canada. He has co-ordinated the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge, overseen dozens of projects, and materially accelerated the BBC opportunity closer to reality. Working with innovators from academics to entrepreneurs to large industry, Bomben finds novel ways to assist them in their technical efforts. Bomben, who holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Calgary and a Professional Chemist designation, has “breathtaking technical excellence but also a shrewd mind for strategy development,” says Bryan Helfenbaum, executive director of advanced hydrocarbons at Alberta Innovates. “He is an incredible collaborator, working with a myriad of stakeholders. And despite a tremendous workload, Paolo never hesitates to assist his colleagues.”

Shannon DaCosta: A civil/structural engineer with a bachelor’s degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, DaCosta is one of Fluor Canada’s Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) subject matter experts. As the AWP regional manager for Canada, she manages and develops the program across Fluor projects in Canada. AWP is a strategic executable process that differs from traditional project management in that it provides a collaborative and continuously connected approach for detailed project planning and execution. As an AWP manager on the LNG Canada export facility, DaCosta developed the initial AWP implantation plan and strategy that applied to all of the projects including Fluor’s home office, joint venture, module fabrication, and site scopes.

Marc Demeter: In five years, Demeter has made such an impact at OSP Microcheck that the company literally built an entire business unit, proprietary LifeCheckDNA, to accommodate his work. Over the course of the COVID pandemic, he had the foresight to pivot OSP’s service offerings by leveraging its ability to perform RNA/DNA level testing. In a matter of weeks, the OSP technical centre was converted to a Biohazard Level II lab and the proprietary Hy-Gene brand was launched — an in-house SARS-Cov-2 assay for industrial testing. The service enabled businesses to test their work environments for COVID so they could keep their doors open. Since then Demeter, who has a PhD in environmental microbiology with an added specialization in energy and environmental systems, has been promoted to technical business director.

Justin deMontarnal: Over the past 10 years, 30-year-old deMontarnal has risen through the midstream ranks to his current role as a senior project engineer at Enbridge Inc., where he is responsible for defining project scopes, budgets and schedules in the facilities project engineering group. He led Enbridge’s gas compressor Station 16 installation project that increased natural gas flow in northeast B.C., enabling better pricing for commodity-depressed Montney producers in the region. As Calgary co-chair of the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada (YPAC), deMontarnal was the visionary, leader and project manager of the groundbreaking YPAC x AVATAR program launched in June 2020. In the collaboration between YPAC, Beaver Drilling and the University of Calgary, young energy professionals enrolled in an eight-week learning journey after which they pitched solutions to current energy challenges to a panel of senior executives.

Brad Densmore: As project manager with Landmark Resources Management Ltd. in Victoria, B.C., Densmore oversees industry and First Nation ESG, communications and capacity building. With his hard work and dedication he has been instrumental in making the company an ESG leader, helping it attract new clients and expand service offerings. Densmore’s innovative approach to realizing the practical benefits of adopting an ESG strategy for industry and First Nation clients in the energy sector has also brought value to all parties involved. He has been working with Witset First Nation and Kyah Resources, its civil construction/forestry company, to implement a comprehensive training, employment and communications strategy for the Coastal GasLink project in northeast B.C. In addition, Densmore has helped increase Kyah’s Indigenous workforce to 68 per cent, helping to build community support for the project while enhancing its overall ESG profile.

Adam Downton: Downton recently was promoted to Terra Nova production engineering manager at Suncor Energy Inc. to lead a team preparing for the return to production of the field offshore Newfoundland after a significant off station and asset life extension project. A mechanical engineering graduate from Memorial University of Newfoundland, he has worked with and led multi-functional engineering teams in various Terra Nova life of field projects. Downton successfully supported the sanction of Terra Nova’s asset life extension project. Downton led a team that developed a bespoke inspection tool to inspect a subsea riser system that ultimately mitigated a Level 1 health and safety risk. The project was completed under an extremely tight timeline and was the first of its kind on Terra Nova. It was delivered on time with flawless execution and no injuries.

Nasser El-Hindi: A project manager for Fluor Canada in Toronto, El-Hindi has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Toronto and 10 years of self-perform construction and design experience in the nuclear and mining industries. He recently completed a brownfield project for Ontario Power Generation in Pickering, Ont. The Used Fuel Dry Storage Building #4 (SB4) project was completed under budget and ahead of schedule. Nasser demonstrates a strong ability to influence key decisions on a project, actively engage the client, and motivate people to complete project tasks with a holistic view of where a project should be driven to meet the client’s needs.

Andy Farrow: Farrow, the president of Ponoka-based Gemini Fabrication Ltd., acquired the Gemini operating assets that were in receivership and turned the business around after refocusing the company on its fabrication roots. In doing so he maintained the majority of the team and Gemini’s position as one of the town’s largest employers. Farrow recently finalized a deal to acquire two patented technologies that could change the market for one of Gemini’s key markets — heavy oil. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on accounting and finance and has been working in the energy industry for the past 10 years. Leading by example, Farrow gets the best out of his team each day, inspiring everyone to do their best.

Sarah Favel: Since joining Gibson Energy Inc. less than three years ago as a junior communications analyst, Favel has risen to stakeholder relations specialist where her efforts have been instrumental in helping the company stand up its ESG and government relations functions. In taking a leadership role in helping Gibson continue to integrate sustainability into everything it does, she has enabled it to achieve and continue to maintain a leadership position. Based on the expertise she has developed, Favel now speaks to Gibson stakeholders about ESG, government relations, and diversity and inclusion. A graduate of Mount Royal University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations, she consistently goes above and beyond to provide leadership/support across the Gibson organization to ensure the continued success of its sustainability/ESG, government relations and broader stakeholder engagement initiatives.

Thomas Fox: With increased government focus on methane emissions, Highwood Emissions Management Inc., which Fox co-founded a year ago, is thriving. As president, Fox leads a five-member team engaged in cutting-edge work, providing analytical services not offered by any other firm in the world. Highwood has guided Enhance Energy Inc. and Qube Technologies Inc. to achieve the first regulatory approval of a continuous methane monitoring system in Canada. Fox, 33, completed his PhD at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Smart Emissions Sensing Technologies, where his work evaluated methane measurement technologies and methods. He invented the Leak Detection and Repair Simulator (LDAR-Sim), which is an open-source software product designed to evaluate emerging leak detection technologies, methods, programs and policies. It is used around the world to optimize work practices and achieve regulatory approval for more efficient and innovative methane monitoring solutions.

Danielle Gifford: As senior manager at AltaML Inc.’s Applied AI lab for the past year, Gifford leads a team that is having an impact on lab associates, industry partners and the broader community. Developed and operated by AltaML on a collaborative basis with partners, the lab’s mandate is to accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) skill development in Calgary while driving AI integration in business. “Danielle has been an instrumental leader in the trenches building this program from the ground up,” says Jil Macdonald, AltaML’s managing director. “What was a plan on paper has come to life under Danielle’s leadership whereby she has set a collaborative, industry-leading engagement model that accelerates the talent development in Calgary, while materially advancing AI outcomes for partners.” Only 27, Gifford has five years of progressive business and leadership experience in the tech and entrepreneurship field.

Gillian Hynes: Hynes’ work and volunteer efforts focus on people strategy, future of work disruptors, tackling systemic barriers of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and advocating for gender equity. In her current role as the director of Indigenous inclusion at Rise Consulting Ltd., she has focused on how to create shared value for Indigenous peoples in Canada and for Corporate Canada as it responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for the corporate sector and its leadership to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In a previous position as human resources director for the Americas Shales business at Shell, Hynes helped identify an uncompetitive overhead position, partnering with senior executives and colleagues to lead an organizational redesign. The result was a transparent and people-centric approach to downsizing and more than $350 million in savings.

Shannon Kadoski: As marketing manager of Acceleware Ltd., a cleantech energy developer, since 2015, Kadoski grew the company’s presence across all social media platforms by 85 per cent in one year while her expertise with online marketing and awareness has allowed Acceleware to gain powerful partnerships. With the Acceleware office working remotely during COVID, she thought of new ways to get the company’s message out and new social campaigns proved successful in communicating with audiences without face-to-face communication. As Acceleware shifted from seismic software design and services to RF (radio frequency) heating for oilsands and heavy oil, Kadoski promoted the move, alerting software supporters of the change and transitioning Acceleware’s online presence.

Phillip Kellerman: Although Kellerman has bachelor’s degrees in both commerce and law from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, he currently is working within a project execution environment as the site prime contract manager for the JGC Fluor BC LNG joint venture on the LNG Canada project. When Fluor formalized the prime contract management function within the organization, Kellerman drafted the procedures and training materials with input from various stakeholders and experts across business lines and continents. It was the first time that the role of the prime contract manager, as a key member of the project execution team on larger projects, had been comprehensively defined and integrated into the quality management system project.

Vicki Knott: Passionate about the automation of the energy midstream industry to increase safety and efficiency, Knott is the chief executive officer and co-founder of tech company CruxOCM. It has developed a scalable, off-the-shelf software to fully automate the execution of procedures, checklists and rules-of-thumb for control room operators. Knott wants to revolutionize heavy industry control room operations while embedding environmental, social and governance practices into everything that CruxOCM does. A graduate in chemical engineering from the University of New Brunswick, she has been working in the field for the last 10 plus years. At TransCanada PipeLines Ltd., Knott worked in commercial operations, process control engineering and spent significant time in the control room. Only 33, she also is skilled at raising capital for CruxOCM, including $7.6 million through her last fundraising round.

Devin Lacey: Since joining GLJ Ltd. in August 2020, Lacey, a senior business analyst, has had an impact as a role model for the company’s emerging business teams, most specifically in the areas of energy decarbonatization, sustainability, emerging energy and technology. GLJ’s strategy is to focus its strengths in two new growth areas — beyond Canada and beyond traditional oil and gas — and Lacey has been a key player advancing its corporate strategy in both of these areas. Among his accomplishments, Lacey researched and authored a hydrogen strategy report for a power generation company, a new type of client for GLJ. He then progressed the report into a project feasibility analysis for on-site blue hydrogen production aimed at decarbonizing power generation with hydrogen enriched natural gas.

Sarah Lerner: In 2020, Lerner left a corporate position to co-found And Together, a data-driven, systems approach to organizational transformation. She brought to the new company a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation, an MBA from Queen’s University, and 14 years of experience in the finance, strategy and consulting fields. Lerner demonstrates leadership and vision and has worked to build a company that will help the oil and gas industry through its transformation. She understands that the cultural aspects of companies need to change in order for transformation efforts to be successful and believes that the industry will benefit from having more viewpoints at the decision making table.

Jennifer Lewis: As lead, engineering & survey services at TC Energy Corporation, Lewis is recognized within the company and the supply chain group as a leader for her experience in supply chain management, and as a resource for both best practices and as a mentor to junior team members. She currently is collaborating on five cross-functional teams as well as leading her own initiatives. As lead, Lewis looked after more than $400 million in spending for TC Energy at a strategic level – suppliers, how the company manages suppliers and, more importantly, how to continually drive value for the company. She expanded the category in the United States and runs a supplier management program to help both TC and its suppliers continually improve.

Christopher Lloyd: A digital solutions architect for Spartan Controls Ltd., Lloyd has worked at the company since his graduation from the University of Alberta in 2011 with a degree in chemical engineering. The past four years have been focused on the world of digital transformation and the design and implementation of cutting-edge technologies that leverage big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing while solving the big problem of enterprise data mobility from industrial systems. The focus of Lloyd’s current work is to help organizations move, store, and get value out of their data, all while doing it securely and at scale. Some of his most important work focuses on bridging the gap between the IT and the operational technology (OT) sides of customers’ organizations, and collaborating with the large tech companies to unlock the power of data.

Lisa McCarthy: As manager of finance and administration at privately held Campbell Energy & Environmental, McCarthy was a key contributor in helping the business leverage its energy experience and successfully pivot into the environmental industry. Her job was to implement new software across the business and use it to analyze the economics of divisions in order to help make critical and strategic decisions. Campbell has successfully managed to create a new profitable revenue stream that aligns well with its core energy sector. A graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, McCarthy also is a Chartered Financial Analyst with more than 15 years of progressive experience in areas such as capital markets, strategic planning, and acquisition and divestitures.

Warren McVicar: McVicar, a 32-year-old Professional Chemist, is technical director and an integral team member of a new start-up chemical company, Hybrid Chemical Technologies, where he leads a team of R&D chemists and engineers focused on tailoring unique solutions for stakeholders looking to reduce their costs and environmental footprint to stay competitive. Hybrid’s focus is on chemical advancement, providing new and modern means to chemical technology services. A graduate of the University of British Columbia with a B.Sc. in chemistry and a minor in biochemistry, McVicar has spent much of his career focusing on innovative solutions for the oilfield and chemical industry. The work with other research and development chemists has resulted in a number of chemical solutions currently used throughout the oilfield industry, allowing for more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly options.

Drake Ottacher: At 23, Ottacher is the youngest of the Rising Stars nominees but he has already become an avid supporter of the industry, taking on advocacy roles with his peers and with the public. Following graduation from the University of Alberta in biomedical mechanical engineering in the spring of 2021, he spent the summer learning about the energy sector while working as a field engineer for Arrowhead Resources Ltd. subsidiaries and investments in Alberta. Nominator Scott Van Vliet describes Ottacher as a “bright young man with a thirst for knowledge” as he continues to work towards a field engineer role in the international oil and gas industry.

Rayna Oryniak: Oryniak is the business development manager for Prolium Industries Ltd., an Airdrie-based storage tank maintenance company. She has worked in the energy industry for the last six years and holds an undergraduate degree in international relations and a minor in business management and society from the University of Calgary. Throughout her career, Oryniak has worked with various teams to build meaningful relationships, internally and externally. She constantly thinks outside the box to create value within the organizations in which she is involved. Oryniak recently was appointed president of Canadian Women in Energy, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and empowering women in Calgary’s energy sector.

Brendan Paton: Paton was one of the original founders of Spartan Delta Corp. and has helped lead the meteoric growth of the junior oil and gas producer to more than 62,000 boe/d from 250 boe/d as it acquired other companies. After starting as engineering manager, he was promoted to vice-president of engineering where he now manages a team developing more than 50 wells per year in Montney and Deep Basin assets. Paton, 32, has demonstrated a keen eye for value, not only playing a key role in the evaluation and acquisition of more than $1 billion of assets in the last 18 months, but in developing alternative development strategies that have paid dividends both in the way Spartan Delta thinks about its asset base and in the results.

Martha Peden: As vice-president, Indigenous, regulatory and public affairs for NorthRiver Midstream Inc., Peden’s leadership has been instrumental in forging the strong Indigenous, industry and agency relationships necessary to succeed in her role. Known for her professionalism and ability to creatively problem solve, she has been at NorthRiver since 2019. In heading the regulatory function, Peden navigates a complex regulatory framework in northeast B.C. and northwest Alberta that involves the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission, Alberta Energy Regulator, Canada Energy Regulator and B.C. Utilities Commission. She provides legal and regulatory advice on capital projects and assists with Indigenous and stakeholder engagement and in developing regulatory policy. “She is a role model mentor and a passionate advocate for inclusion, diversity and change,” says her nominator Brenden Hunter, a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.

Kshama Roy: Roy, who earned his PhD and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, is committed to pipeline innovation and trustworthiness. At Northern Crescent Inc., where he has worked since 2017, Roy has demonstrated his in-depth understanding of pipe-soil interaction, beginning as pipeline stress specialist. In his current position as team lead of special projects and pipeline integrity, he leads a seven-member team and is the lead engineer on several pipeline integrity projects for Pacific Natural Gas. Roy initiated and developed NC’s pipeline integrity and R&D section and is overseeing its collaboration with five universities, one college and seven companies. As a principal investigator for the section he has secured $250,000 in research grants for projects that have contributed to a better understanding of pipe-soil interaction and other geotechnical/pipeline concerns.

Neil Rysavy: Rysavy is building a new skill set in environment health and safety at Suncor Energy Inc. after supporting cross-function teams and operational projects as a surface landman, where he implemented processes and procedures that continue to save the company nearly $1 million annually. Rysavy’s dedication to continuous learning is visible in all that he does, most recently in completing his MBA from the University of Alberta while working full time. His drive for continuous improvements include volunteering as the chapter lead for Journeys, a workplace inclusion network advancing Indigenous inclusion and creating a safe and supportive workplace culture for Indigenous employees.

Jessica Shumlich: The chief executive officer and co-founder of Highwood Emissions Management, Shumlich began her career at Shell Canada after graduating from the University of Calgary with a civil engineering degree. She spent nine years at Shell before leaving to work for Energy Efficiency Alberta while completing a master’s degree in management from the University of British Columbia. In 2020, Shumlich and a business partner launched Highwood to support what she believes is the industry’s much needed journey toward improved environmental performance. Shumlich’s expertise lies in holistic greenhouse gas emissions management, including evaluation of how to implement cost effective solutions that reduce emissions. Her skills in risk management and business strategy have led to implementation of best-in-class management practices, successful market positioning for energy transition and the reduction of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Jeff Tomaszewski: Tomaszewski, manager of engineering and process safety at Suncor Energy Inc., has a diverse background in drilling and completions with roles throughout Western Canada, offshore Newfoundland and offshore Norway. His current position allows him to bring this background and international experience to the emerging renewable fuels sector. Tomaszewski has been seconded to Enerkem’s Alberta biofuels facility that processes household waste into methanol in support of a renewable economy. In his role at Suncor, Tomaszewski leads a team of engineers responsible for the safe deployment and continuous improvement of Enerkem’s innovative biofuel technology. He believes the solution for an energy future involves the oil and gas industry and wants to use his traditional industry experience to be a leader in this area.


Fluor has provided engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and project management services to Canada’s energy industry for 72 years. Its 43,000 employees globally (and 3,000+ across Canada) deliver comprehensive services — from conceptual design through to commissioning and maintenance — for all types and sizes of facilities. Fluor applies its broad expertise, extensive experience, and proven technology to benefit Canada’s energy transition in areas such as liquefied natural gas, carbon capture, hydrogen, renewable fuels, small modular reactors, and minerals mining. Fluor is committed to positively contributing to Canada’s energy tomorrow by focusing on safe and sustainable solutions today. This commitment includes focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure opportunities represent the diversity of Canada’s population and support reconciliation, partnerships, and benefit-sharing with Indigenous peoples.

geoLOGIC systems ltd. is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has been providing high-quality, integrated data and analytics to the upstream oil and gas industry in Western Canada and elsewhere for almost 40 years. geoLOGIC’s relentless focus on innovation, quality, and service has made it the trusted standard in the upstream Canadian industry. Customers include exploration and production companies in oil & gas and related products; pipeline and midstream companies; service companies; the financial sector government and regulatory organizations, and educational institutions. Key products include geoSCOUT, a decision-support tool providing high quality data and analytics for all disciplines within the oil and gas industry, and gDC, geoLOGIC’s comprehensive upstream oil and gas database.

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