Tim joined Envirosoft in November 2022 and is currently our Team Lead, Implementations. He attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) where he studied Instrumentation Technology. This month, Tim shared his journey into the environmental industry, his views on evolving regulations, and the importance of sustainable toys.
Tell me a bit about your background.
My education was in Instrumentation Technology, which involved studying the physics, chemistry, and programming behind industrial control systems. My first role was in measurement and quality for a midstream company, where I acted as a liaison between the Calgary office and the field operations. Most of the work was ensuring compliance within regulations, cost and maintenance optimization alongside waste disposal and treatment. I was in the field half the time, which really helped me champion the measurement aspects of our operations. After that, I worked for a measurement equipment service provider, where I assisted end users with selecting appropriate measurement equipment for whatever process they were trying to install.
How did you become interested in instrumentation?
Instrumentation encompasses the process and automation control systems that help manage some type of industrial setting, pulp and paper, food and beverage, logging, and oil and gas, of course. The idea is measuring a bunch of process variables, gathering that information, and using it to control other portions of your plant. The original reason I got into instrumentation is because I’m a math and science geek, and I was already a bit familiar with it since it’s actually something my dad does. I thought it was an interesting career path, a little bit off the beaten path, as it’s not as well known or as favoured as similar occupations like engineering, for example. It’s much more focused and specialized. I even specialized further, because instrumentation covers a lot of very broad spectrum of control systems, but I focused on measurement right from the get-go of my career.
At what point did you become interested in emissions?
Throughout my career, my exposure to both the mid- and upstream levels helped me get to know the regulations that govern them. When the regulations started becoming stricter, the nature of my job evolved to include building compliance plans around emissions as part of a measurement function. To be compliant you have to meet certain expectations and thresholds and the easiest way to do that, in my instrumentation opinion, is through automation of measurement systems to gather the information instead of making a guess. I enjoyed the new challenge these regulations brought when designing the field measurement systems and procedures.
How has the emissions and regulatory landscape changed throughout your career so far?
Initially, emissions were a footnote, a small line item on overall reporting schemes which didn’t get a lot of attention or contribute to the overall "bottom line." As regulations have become stricter, they’ve become more important. My role descriptions changed to reflect the need to develop comprehensive compliance plans and now, new jobs exist to ensure things like flaring and venting are measured, captured, and improved. I see the regulations are driven collaboratively with industry, which I think is net-positive, because it’s important to listen to the SMEs. Folks in the field have the specialized knowledge about what kind of site adjustments can actually drive the biggest impact where the low-hanging fruit is.
How do you feel about the impact of the work that we do on the environment?
Thinking about emissions from that regulatory perspective over time also shifted my social perspective. For example, for safety (HSE), we’re one of the safest counties in the world for O&G, but we can still always do more. Even as one of the lowest emitters in the world, we have a responsibility to do more, not just in response to regulations but because it’s the right thing to do. Our planet is finite, and dealing with our emissions is a big task, but all we can do as individuals is grab a shovel. As large or as little as the impact of the work might be, your job doesn’t just have to be a paycheck. It’s great to get fulfilment from a job that’s helping us move in the right direction for the environment.
What do you like about your current role?
After my experience working with service providers, I really enjoy being on the other side of the coin as the service provider. It’s like a puzzle; to work with our clients to find solutions that works best within their existing processes, rather than trying to re-teach something completely new. I can see a glimpse of what they’re doing now, ask my own questions, and find a solution that works for them in a fit-for-purpose way.
What do you like about working at Envirosoft?
I really enjoy working with my team and watching them work together and learn from each other. Our culture really supports everyone’s opportunity for impact, no one is an “outsider looking in.” That makes it easy to pull in the right people at the right time to make our clients really happy. It’s fun that we’re a small team and that everyone is really involved.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have two young kids who are four and six, so free time is at a premium in my house. When we aren’t watching Ted Lasso or Love is Blind, my wife and I really enjoy It Takes Two, a cooperative video game. It’s a great game – if you don’t know how to communicate with someone, after playing, you definitely will.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
We’re moving to a lake community so getting out to the lake and letting my kids run around that way. We’re going to be riding our bikes a lot more so we can learn how to do that better. Hopefully doing some hiking, cause they’re getting to ages where we can do some of the easier hikes with them. And just for me, golfing!
What are some of your eco friendly habits?
We’ve been more cognizant of the small things that we can do around the house to try to be more eco friendly. Something my wife and I are frustrated with is how mass produced and disposable kids toys are. They’re designed cheaply and they break, and they’re typically single use plastics that can’t be repaired or re-played with and it’s frustrating. So, we try to pick toys for our kids that have high re-playability, they don’t break, don’t have a lot of plastic packaging, and that can be given to friends or donated when we’re done with it. I have my old lego, which was actually my dad’s old lego, so it’s three generations playing with the same lego. Kids are not cheap, and it’s really easy to buy the convenience things that are so disposable for children. But the mentality shift to start thinking about what’s going to last, and what can be given away or re-played with by another child after ours feels really important.