Siobhan Dooley, Chemical Engineer
Provide a brief general introduction about yourself.
My name is Siobhan Dooley. I am a Chemical Engineer at Hatch, which is an engineering consulting company in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. I was born in Winnipeg and lived in Manitoba until I was two years old. My family moved to Sioux Lookout, Ontario and that is where I grew up. My mother is from an Oji-Cree community called St. Theresa Point, which is in northeastern Manitoba. My father is an immigrant from Waterford, Ireland.
What does your daily job entail?
My roles and responsibilities continuously change over time. It depends on what and where the project is. I currently am working on a project for a new mine. I have to gather information on technical specifications that will go out to the market for companies to bid on, getting contract documents together, and make calculations for water systems and sewage treatment lines. In the past, I did field work for commissioning activities. Commissioning activities consists of something that is newly built, which needs to go through tests before handing it over to someone else to take over and use the equipment. Each commissioning activity is different, which makes it interesting because you have to use your problem-solving skills. If you came across an issue that is familiar, you could use what you learned in the past and solve it. I did this for a couple of years, and I enjoyed it. I got to walk around, wear an orange suit and a hard hat. It was good because I did not have to worry about what to wear in the morning!!
What has motivated you?
The big thing that has motivated me was family. My parents felt strongly in ensuring that my sisters and I got a good education. Education came first for my parents, and my sisters and I followed that same mindset. Without having that family support, I am not sure if I would have aimed for bigger things.
What got you interested in your chosen career?
During high school, I did not know what to study. I did not choose a career path in engineering until my sister and chemistry teachers suggested it as something I might enjoy. So, I applied to different universities for engineering and was accepted to attend Queen’s University and graduated. Hatch was well known within the community at Queen’s University, so I learned all about them from my peers and mentors. I am glad that I did because it had lead to different types of projects and a variety of experiences. Now I am working for them for nearly six years now!
How did you get to where you are today?
I got to where I am today by asking for as many different opportunities I could get and keeping an open mind. A challenge for me was feeling unsure of myself during university, especially in the final year. I just got hired to work for Hatch and still needed to finish the last of my classes. I began having thoughts of not succeeding, which was stressful. I ended up talking to a professional about it and turned to my family as well. My family told me to focus on myself, do the best I can and try not to believe if I cannot do one thing then I cannot do another. With their advice in mind, I was able to put my feelings at bay and keep going.
What are some things you like about your career?
I love learning! With a chemical engineering degree, I could end up in different positions. Right now, I am in the process control group. We do a lot automation-type of tasks. We have a system and need instruments installed for the system to run automatically. I am keen on learning about the different responsibilities in my group such as commissioning, developing packages, some process work and other opportunities that will come my way. I try not to limit myself, and I put in my own time towards my work.
Any health or physical requirements in your career?
There is no health requirement unless you are doing site work, especially if you end up in a fly-in remote camp. For example, it would not be best for anyone with a heart condition to be working there because there is no hospital close by, just an emergency services crew. However, when I am in my office, there are no requirements in health because I am not doing any heavy lifting or other physical tasks.
Outside of work, what kind of things do you do to take care of yourself?
For self-care, I go to the gym. If I don’t go to the gym, I am not as happy. When I need to relax I turn to beadwork, which is something my older sister Catriona started and that became an outlet for my sisters and I. We make medallions and earrings, I am currently learning how to do a peyote stitch for a stethoscope.
How did you cope with living in a new locations?
When I moved to Sudbury, I did not know anybody, which was nerve-wracking. I made an effort to meet people outside of work with different hobbies, including joining a roller derby league. I did the same thing when I moved to St. John’s, and started attending programs held by the local Friendship Centre. I enjoy it more because the Friendship Centre has a more diverse group of Indigenous People attending, and I’ve been learning about different Indigenous cultures. There is a program called Community Cultural Circle, which I appreciate being involved with because we practice making traditional crafts and medicines. I did a beadwork workshop with the Friendship Centre as well. I’ve also attended a workshop to learn how to create sealskin mittens and now I have a pair for myself. I am so glad I reached out to the community and not make my experience all about my job.
What financial opportunities did you use and what was the process?
I was fortunate to receive funding from St. Theresa First Nation. First, I had to fill out an application and write an essay stating why and where I wanted to get into the chemical engineering. We have to go through this process because the band wants to make sure they are funding committed students. And every student has to re-apply every year. I am grateful for the funding I received. Something I wish I had looked into available bursaries earlier in my studies. I realized near the end of my schooling that I could have applied for these, and I want to ensure students look into these as alternative methods, especially if they aren’t able to receive funding from their First Nation.
What do you still hope to achieve?
I want to continue the same trajectory I am on now. Eventually, I hope to get into the management side of things and be involved in projects with Indigenous groups within the next 10 years. I got to work with an Indigenous group when I was in Sudbury, and I hope I get to be involved in more projects like that.
What would you like to share with the youth reading this?
If you are scared to try something new, think about why you are scared of it. If it is something you can get help with regarding overcoming that fear and succeeding, reach out to someone.