For Sarah Dubois, life is all about net zero. A former professional soccer goalkeeper in Europe, she was intensely focused on finishing every game with no goals in her net. Today, as an air and climate specialist in Canada’s oil and gas sector, she is just as intensely focused on achieving another net zero — energy produced without contributing to global warning.

Born in Singapore and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Sarah says she “funnily enough tried to avoid” working in the province’s energy sector.

“When I was growing up, oil and gas had a negative connotation about it,” she says, “even though my dad worked in oil and gas. That’s why we ended up in Edmonton.”

Photo from Alberta Soccer

Early influences – sports and STEM

Sarah had first taken to the soccer pitch when she was 12 and quickly displayed a talent for the game as well as a fearless nature.

“I became a goalkeeper at 14 because I was the craziest, I left the field with blood in my mouth, that didn’t bother me. My parents had put me in the dance at the beginning, but I was too aggressive,” Sarah said in an interview with actu.fr (a news website in France) in 2020.

Later, Sarah earned a place on Alberta’s provincial women’s team and caught the attention of scouts from elite soccer programs at universities and colleges. She chose McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, balancing her love of soccer with a dedication to her classroom studies.

She also demonstrated natural leadership. During her university studies, Sarah received the university’s Jean Béliveau Athletic Award for leadership, became a starting goaltender in her sophomore year and was a two two-time Quebec sports conference all-star. As well, Sarah was an academic all-Canadian, a member of the principal’s student-athlete honour roll and named to the dean’s honour roll.

A shifting career path

After graduating from Montreal’s McGill University in 2018 with a master’s degree in chemical engineering, she embarked on what she calls “a dream career” as a semi-professional soccer player in Europe. In 2020, she signed a professional contract with Stade Brestois, a division 2 team in the town of Brest on the west coast of France.

As the same time, she started working as an environmental analyst intern for Envirosoft, an emissions software and consulting firm.

“The next shift was natural, I think,” Sarah says, whose soccer career was short-lived because of COVID-19 and nagging injuries. “I came to Altagas [in Calgary], to get closer to the emissions inventory and decision-making. I hope to have an impact on reducing emissions significantly.”

“I realized the environmental opportunities and the work that was happening in the industry. Now I see how much we, as an industry, are moving forward and technology is evolving, and I’m enjoying the fast-changing emissions space.”

Sarah Dubois, Air and Climate Specialist, AltaGas

A typical day

A typical day varies by the time of the year. The first part of the year is focused on regulatory reporting, gathering and evaluating data and emission calculations. The second half of the year revolves more around planning and managing emission-reduction projects.

In terms of the day-to-day work, “It’s highly detailed oriented, with lots and lots of data to sift through,” Sarah says. “My work environment is great — my co-workers and colleagues are dedicated and passionate about their jobs and common purpose.”

She’s found that the oil and gas sector’s clean technology is rapidly evolving, and regulations are constantly updated. 

She adds, “It’s a dynamic, challenging space, and also supportive. As someone who’s relatively new, I’ve met lots of people in the space willing to help. It gives the sense of a greater team.”

After years of being in team sports, working with others remains one of her greatest passions.

“I don’t want to sound too nerdy, but I really enjoy when I meet other air specialists and we start talking about different projects we’ve got going on or different ideas,” Sarah says. “Then being able to bring those ideas back and have my own team say ‘yes, let’s have a look at this and see the feasibility of the idea’— that’s really exciting. It’s exciting to own something and see how you’re going to make something better over the next few years.”

While Sarah’s first career in soccer was short-lived, she sees long-term opportunities in oil and gas.

“I would love to build out net-zero projects and maybe even lead a low-carbon project team, but,” she says with a laugh, “I think that is a little further down the road from where I am right now.”

Company

AltaGas

Location

Calgary, Alberta

Education

Master of Science in chemical engineering

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


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