Day in the Life: Alex – Fluid Services Manager, Magnum Cementing Services

When Alex was young, he experienced first-hand the seasonality of his father’s construction business and knew a job with the family company wasn’t for him.

“Too many ups and downs,” he says. “You’d work as hard as you could all summer long and have nothing to do in the winter.”

For a while, Alex planned to be a welder. But after graduating from high school in 2002, he landed a job in Canada’s energy industry—an industry also known for its cyclical nature. Twenty-one years later, Alex has never had a down time in his career.

The start of a career journey

At 17 and fresh out of high school, Alex became a swamper for Big Eagle Services. Industry slang for a general labourer, a swamper can be asked by almost anyone to do almost anything at a drilling site.

“Sometimes, I would be pulled in 10 different directions at a time,” Alex says. He hustled to keep up – and pay attention to everything going on around him.

On some sites, he says, working could be downright “scary” with a flurry of heavy equipment and, sometimes, the sobering presence of hydrogen sulphide (H2S). A deadly gas, H2S occurs naturally in many ways, including volcanic gases and hot springs below the earth’s surface. In the energy industry, it’s found in oil and natural gas reservoirs.

From his first day on the job, Alex was willing to learn, always especially mindful of safety risks, eager to help and keen to advance. Every day he could see possibilities and opportunities.

“I started at the bottom,” Alex says, “and kept moving up. I wanted to own my own equipment.”

His first step was getting a class 3 driver’s licence. Class 1 and 3 licenses can cost a driver thousands of dollars. In the oil and gas industry, many companies reimburse drivers for the cost of their licence after a year of work. Alex’s company at the time, Cordy Environmental, did exactly that for him.

For a while, he owned two vehicles. As times changed, he rolled with them, selling his trucks, taking on new roles, and moving into supervisor and management roles with Cordy. In the two decades he’s been in oil and gas, he’s had seven different job descriptions, from swamper to general manager.

“The pieces fell into place,” Alex says about his career, adding his rise through the ranks has relied on more than just showing up for work every day. “I earned it.”

While Alex never attended a post-secondary school, he’s been a constant learner. He’s lost count of the management, safety, first aid, environmental, government regulation and dangerous goods courses he’s taken. He’s also gained a wide range of skills and experience straddling field work and office work.

A typical day

Today, after years working in the field across western Canada, Alex works out of Calgary with Magnum Cementing Services. The company specializes in cementing for downhole rigs and fluid and air vacuuming for the energy industry and other industries.

His typical day starts early. Often up at 4 a.m., Alex dives into emails and messages then moves on to reviewing invoices, parts orders and supplier quotes. Three or four times a week he heads to work sites for field and safety inspections. If a piece of equipment breaks down, his attention is immediately focused on getting it up and running again.

“When equipment goes down, you have to have a back-up plan,” Alex says. And because the industry runs 24 hours a day, he can find himself taking calls and working at any time of the day, any day of the week.

While he may have back-up plans for equipment, Alex offers this advice to people considering or starting out in the sector: “Don’t sit back—learn everything you can. If you don’t like something, try something else. There’s a lot of positions in a lot of places in the industry.”

In quick succession, he also offers other advice he wishes he’d followed more in the past two decades: Take your time off, be better with your money and don’t buy the Ford F150.

After a quick laugh, he adds his final insight for working in the energy industry: “Give it a chance. I did and I’ve never looked back.”


Magnum Cementing Services


Calgary, Alberta


High school diploma

Salary, education and advancement may vary from company to company.

To learn more about working in Canada’s oil and gas services sector, take a look at Working in Oil and Natural Gas.

Previous Next
No results were found.