Rising Stars 2021: Enbridge senior engineer a ‘people focused leader’

Justin deMontarnal

Editor’s note: We’ll be running all Rising Stars Class of 2021 profiles over the next two weeks. Today, we profile Justin deMontarnal.

As a former university football player, Justin deMontarnal has always taken a team-based collaborative approach to his career in the oil and gas sector.

A senior engineer in the Facilities Project Engineering group at Enbridge Inc., deMontarnal speculates that the culture is why he has stayed in projects for so long. “When you’re working within projects, you’re working as a team to accomplish a common goal, so that really kind of resonates with my sports background quite a bit.”

 The University of Saskatchewan graduate in mechanical engineering began his midstream career at Spectra Energy, which was later acquired by Enbridge. After a stint in System Planning, which gave him a good understanding of the Westcoast Transmission pipeline system, he moved into the project execution group.

“The last five or six years I’ve been mostly focused on mainline compression on the development and on the execution side,” says the 30-year-old engineer. “I have put in several Mainline gas turbine compressor stations and worked on a number of Mainline development projects — $1.5 billion plus projects.” He recently completed the Silverstar Project, which provides another delivery point in northeastern British Columbia for Montney producers.

As co-chair of the Calgary chapter of the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada, deMontarnal also helped launch and co-ordinate the successful Avatar program in which teams of young energy professionals pitched their solutions to today’s energy challenges. This year, there were 270 participants from 65 different energy organizations, up from 60 participants the first year.

Describing himself as a “people focused leader,” deMontarnal likes the fact that he’s now in a role where he actually gets to lead projects and stakeholders and “really work with people” in supporting the business development team and customers.

“[It’s] not just understanding the how, but the why we’re doing something,” he says. “It’s really given me more of a holistic view and it’s been great … working directly with customers and coming up with something that works for them and works for us.”

In his current role, deMontarnal must lead with influence and persuasion, instead of actual power. “It’s actually getting people to buy in and do something that you need them to do, or want them to do, or something that’s maybe in the best interest for Enbridge but not in the best interest for them individually and working through that,” he says.

“It’s the most rewarding part of my job but it’s also the most challenging part of my job.”

For the past couple of years, though, deMontarnal has been trying to transition out of the Projects business unit to pursue new opportunities. Over the summer, he and his wife moved to Edmonton where he wants to work in Enbridge’s Liquids Pipelines business unit.

“What I’m really interested in long term is corporate development and corporate strategy and more of the business side, that innovation side and less of the technical specialist side,” he says. “What I’m really passionate about is the people side of the business so, really, what I want to get into is people leadership. Right now, I’m doing a lot of it indirectly but I want to be more of a direct people leader.”

For deMontarnal, what he prefers to call the energy transformation, rather than energy transition, is about taking a collaborative approach to solving the problems of climate change and decarbonization. “What I like to say whenever I’m talking about energy advocacy is you can stand on the sidelines and lob grenades over the fence or you can actually take an active role and build the world that you want to work in,” he says. “And that’s kind of what I’m about and what I want to do so that’s probably also why I’m still in the energy industry.”

In both his work and in his community involvement, says deMontarnal, he tries to foster an “us and them” mentality rather than the “us versus them” mentality he has seen with energy advocacy within the oil and gas sector.

“I think traditionally the industry has done a really good job of bombarding people with facts, but we haven’t done a good job of telling our story,” he says. “And it comes down to leading with our hearts instead of just our heads and really connecting with people on a personal level.”

When it comes to innovation, “there’s all sorts of amazing technology out there,” says deMontarnal.

However, the biggest challenge to innovation, he suggests, is on the social side. “It’s getting people to buy in, which goes back to that persuasion and influence piece. I always hear it in my career: ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it.’

“And what I like to do is really challenge that and say, ‘Maybe there’s a better way to do it.’”

Rising Stars: Sponsors

Fluor Canada

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.

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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