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Day in the Life: Devra – Surface Land Analyst, Inter Pipeline Ltd.

Photo headshot of Devra McCoy

Although it was almost 12 years ago, Devra clearly remembers the day she decided to work in Canada’s energy industry.

A career journey

Devra had been out of high school for about four years and was unsure of the career she wanted. While figuring it out, she worked as a server at one of Calgary’s top downtown restaurants. One day, the lunchtime diners at one of her tables were talking about working as land administrators.

“They were telling me about the work they did, and it sounded interesting and challenging,” Devra recalls. “Most importantly, it was a career in the energy industry, which I was very intrigued by. I went home that night and started looking into courses at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology).”

Still, going back to school was a big decision. “It was definitely difficult. I was not the best student in high school, but at SAIT the learning was very hands-on, and the instructors set you up for success,” Devra says.

Graduating two years later with a 98 per cent average boosted her confidence and made her all the more determined to find work in her newly chosen industry. “I volunteered for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Land Administration as an education liaison and networked at industry events to get my name and face out there,” she says.

Within 10 months she had a job with Lorrnel Consultants, which specializes in land administration in forestry, energy, mining and infrastructure.

SAIT’s certificate program focuses on helping students learn the land administrative side of the industry. She could interpret the complex land contracts and agreements that give energy companies access to land, most often so they can drill for oil or gas or can build and maintain a pipeline.

“I thought I learned everything there was to know about land administration when I was in SAIT,” Devra says. But her learning continued as her career progressed.

“I learned a lot about different land rights and oilsands projects and had the opportunity to support several wellsite and pipeline projects,” Devra says.

Later she joined Lorrnel’s sister company, Ever Green Land Use Consulting, as a surface administrator. There, she worked reviewing and approving forest management agreements; issuing road use agreements; and assisting an Alberta forestry company on their silviculture program (the growth and management of trees).

Taking the next step

Her next career step was to LandSolutions as an intermediate land administrator charged with working on large-scale pipeline regulated by the Canada Energy Regulator (CER). Devra worked at the company for five years and continued to learn more about land administration and the energy industry. She gained insight into freehold and Crown land agreements as well as projects regulated by CER; the Alberta Energy Regulator; and Indian Oil and Gas Canada, which oversees projects on Indigenous People’s reserve land.

“It was an incredible opportunity, and I really honed my skills during that time,” Devra says.

For her next career move, she joined Inter Pipeline Ltd. as a contractor on a project near Edmonton and, in December 2019, she joined as a full-time employee. Now the mother of a two-year-old, Devra works in Inter Pipelines’ Calgary office and enjoys the diversity of her job.

“The energy sector is incredibly important, especially in the current political and economic climate. In my opinion, Canada needs both renewable energy and natural resources, and I am thankful to work with a company that understands this and is striving to change the conversation. It’s not the industry it was once was.”

Devra, Surface Land Analyst

A typical day

“I really don’t have a typical day,” she says. “A day for me involves working closely with the project managers, service providers and internal support services to optimize our projects and streamline the land acquisition process. I am usually on the phone and in the boardroom working with our surveyors and brokers, reviewing survey plans, auditing third party requests and final packages . . . Every day is different and every day I’m still learning something new.”

Her list of duties is lengthy, and each work week is peppered with tight deadlines, operational challenges and the satisfaction of handing off completed projects. The one constant in her day? “Learning how to pivot,” Devra says, adding it’s the biggest hurdle she faces every day: knowing how to adapt to her job’s most pressing concerns.

She recommends land administration as a career, especially for those who are interested in renewable energy as the industry continues to adapt.

Company

Inter Pipeline Ltd.

Location

Calgary, Alberta

Education

Post-secondary 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.

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