Erin Berezniak, VP, Human Resources, Composite Systems, Shawcor, is a graduate of Energy Workforce’s Executive Leadership Program. She recently shared her insights on the energy services and technology sector.
ENERGY WORKFORCE: What is your role with the company? What does a typical day look like?
Erin Berezniak: As part of the Executive Leadership Team, I support and oversee all human resources activities for Shawcor’s Composite Systems’ division. My job is incredibly interesting, as it involves working with all facets of our business. There is no such thing as a “typical day” in the world of HR, other than knowing it will be filled with decision-based meetings, project work, analytics and tackling last-minute urgent issues.
EW: Why did you join the oil and gas industry? Was there an individual who influenced your decision? Was there an event or piece of technology that got you excited?
EB: I started my HR career as a recruiter for a large agency in Alberta and Shawcor (Flexpipe) was one of my clients. The HR Manager invited me to tour the facility to better understand the business and type of candidates they were looking for. During the tour, I became fascinated with the technology, process and automation of making products for the oil and gas industry – especially since it was developed in-house. Those who provided the tour and spoke about the equipment did so with passion and enthusiasm, and I knew I wanted to part of the complexity and creativity that oil and gas offered.
EW: What individual has been most instrumental in helping with your career? What did their mentorship look like and how did it guide your path?
EB: Over the past few years, our Chief People/HSE Officer, and former and current Composite System Presidents, provided me with space to learn and grow, while taking on stretch assignments for additional exposure and experience. I appreciate leaders than can ask you the right questions to get to the answer vs. “telling.”
EW: What was your impression of the industry beforehand and how has it evolved?
EB: When I first started, HR in oil and gas was still referred to as “personnel” by many. It has now transformed to a true partnership whereby HR professionals are at the table, providing guidance and having a voice.
EW: What has surprised you most about the industry?
EB: The constant and never-ending change, from technology to processes and human capital demands.
EW: Where do you hope to see the industry develop over the next five years?
EB: I hope to see some of our tank manufacturing processes become automated, as it is a very manual and time consuming process from a labor standpoint.
EW: What role do you believe you will play in the industry’s future?
EB: Challenging the industry’s cultural norms, by embracing all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion.
EW: How has your involvement in Energy Workforce supported your career goals?
EB: The Executive Leadership Program learning sessions were interactive and provided an opportunity to hear the creative ideas (and challenges) of others from around the world. As a result of this experience, I recently joined the HR Council and continue to participate in Energy Workforce’s networking sessions.
EW: Who are one or two individuals you’ve met while working in the industry who have impacted your thinking?
EB: Having Pat Lipovski as my coach and Bonnie Houston as my mentor were one of the biggest highlights of 2021. They were able to elevate my thought process and leadership capabilities. Energy Workforce CEO Leslie Beyer was our special guest during March’s International Women’s Month. Her honesty, experiences and suggestions really challenged the mindset and thinking of our entire organization when thinking about women and equity in the oil and gas sector.
EW: What’s a technology or innovation you’ve seen in the sector that impressed you?
EB: Councils such as this one. Getting people together to talk, learn and grow … it’s a powerful thing.
EW: What advice would you give someone just getting started in the oil and gas industry?
EB: Learning how to be proactive in a reactive market.
EW: What do you wish other people knew about oil and gas?
EB: The industry is associated with an immediate bias when it comes to environmental concerns. However, companies have heavily invested in reducing their carbon footprint and may offer more environmentally friendly solutions than alternatives outside of oil and gas.
EW: What do you do for fun?
EB: I love instructing barre (workout) classes, having movie nights with the family, travelling, watching the most recent Masterclass and renovating/designing our current home.
EW: What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
EB: Spending a summer travelling around Europe with my husband and children. We all love history, art, opera, soccer and architecture, and it’s important for them to see where my husband grew up and meet both of our extended family members throughout Poland and Italy.
EW: What’s a fun fact people would never guess about you?
EB: I am an accomplished pianist and spent the first half of my life practicing for hours each day, performing and teaching.