Ryan loves the outdoors. Growing up in Nova Scotia, he spent much of his time fishing, hunting and camping. In fact, he enjoyed it so much he went to college and earned a certificate in Fish and Wildlife so he could continue working outdoors. But the work was seasonal and Ryan and his wife wanted to start a family. In 2004, they decided to move to Calgary where they could both find full-time work. His first job was in pest control but it didn’t pay the big money Alberta had a reputation for and he yearned to be back outdoors.

It wasn’t long before he found more meaningful work in seismic. While he was back in his element, it didn’t provide the full-time work he desired. It was here that a co-worker told him about surveying companies. He started sending out resumés and in 2005 McElhanney offered him a job as an assistant to the Party Chief. He had no experience and knew the company took a chance on him. With that in mind, he strived to be a great assistant.

“In that first year I asked as many questions as I could and read any manual I could find,” says Ryan. His dedication and work ethic paid off. He was promoted to part-time Jr. Party Chief and eventually he was promoted to Party Chief. He took a keen interest in safety and became the one of the field reps for the safety committee as well as an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) instructor for the company. His quick promotions are no surprise to those who work with Ryan. After all, his favourite mantra is ‘Don’t get mad at ‘er, just get at ‘er.’

His role in the company is essential. As Party Chief he is the first and last to check on each job. “When a client has co-ordinates for a spot were they would like to drill they are looking at a piece of flat paper. It is up to me to ensure they are physically capable to access and construct the well site, and survey it in such a manner that it works for both the client, and landowner.”

Right now, Ryan is working on a 20-well project that spans across 30 kilometers of bush. He spends his days in isolated areas with an assistant. They use ATVs or snowmobiles to travel to future well sites or pipelines. Once there he begins to survey or restake for construction. This could take hours or a couple of weeks. He works outside in all weather conditions and wears clothes designed to keep him safe from the outside elements. He is often away from home for long periods. “That’s the one thing I would change if I could, it’s tough being away from my wife and kids.”

Ryan says that some days his job feels like he’s getting paid to go on a hike or a treasure hunt. “You never know what you will come across travelling down the same trails that were used 100 years earlier. I’ve found old wood posts with pits and mounds, a perfect set of bearing trees, an ink well and an old glass bottle of Dr. Pierces Golden Medical Discovery.”

While he enjoys the fun side of his job he also takes it very seriously. He uses his planning and time management skills to make the job easier for the next person to carry on. “What takes five extra minutes today could save hours of construction later,” he says. “You really have to envision what will be needed in the future and try to plan the day’s construction to be the most beneficial by setting priorities and getting the job done in a timely manner.”

Job Title: Party Chief

Company: McElhanney

Location: Calgary, AB

Base Salary Range: $22 per hour and up. McElhanney also offers a benefits package and an employee stock option.

Education: Fish and Wildlife (Renewable Resource Management Technology) / Conservation Enforcement, Ground Disturbance, First Aid and CPR, ATV Rider, H2S Alive, BC Fallers Course, Basic Chainsaw.

Advancement: Alberta Land Surveyor or supervisor.

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

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