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A chat with Muna

Meet Muna Salim! She is a Senior Risk Engineer at Enbridge Gas Distribution, Vice-Chair of PEO's Mississauga chapter, and Vice-Chair of Enbridge's FEMINEN employee group for women in engineering.

Kathy Sheng, our marketing/events coordinator, got to ask her about mentorship, networking, and being advice for new grads!

Could you give us a little bit of background on yourself?

I graduated from McMaster University in 2010 with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering, I’m a Professional Engineer and have a PMP certificate. I did an internship during my undergrad at Suncor Energy at the Sarnia refinery. After I graduated, I moved to Fort McMurray and worked for Suncor for a few years for their Production and Planning group. I was responsible for optimizing the pipeline schedule, coordinating maintenance activities, and troubleshooting any issues with the crude quality or the production plant. Then after that, I moved back to Toronto and got a job with Enbridge at the North York office with their engineering group. I was responsible for developing procedures, standards, and processes for the various engineering standards that we have related to construction, maintenance, planning, quality assurance, and so on. And then after a year so in engineering, I moved to the Incident Investigation Group, and now I’m in Risk and Asset Management, where I've been there for the last few years. Outside of work, I volunteer for PEO, as the Vice-Chair for the Mississauga chapter. I'm also the Vice-Chair for the FEMINEN group, which is the females engineering group at Enbridge.

What is a typical day like for you in your job?

Before the pandemic I had a long commute, I live in Mississauga and commute to either our North York or Markham office. I would start work at about 7:30 to 8:30 depending on how early my meetings are. One of the main things that I miss going to work is just having my morning tea or coffee with my coworkers and catching up on our work and personal lives. In terms of work, nothing really has changed in terms of my responsibilities. My work is very dynamic, so I don't really have a typical day, but usually, my day consists of meetings with my team and with internal and external stakeholders. Some of my work is technical that involves doing risk assessments and some are more about supporting our business groups in using our new asset management tool which we use to optimize our 10-year budget plan. My work also involves strategy development and process improvement.

I know that you’re involved in Enbridge’s Women in Engineering employee groups, could you talk a bit more about what your group does and how it’s helped you in your career?

I enjoy supporting organizations and committees that empower women in engineering because when I was in University, I noticed that the number of women in engineering was very low, I know that has improved, but there is still lots of work to do. Also, there is still hesitation from young girls to go into Engineering. FEMINEN is a new Employee Resource Group we established about a few years ago at Enbridge in the GTA. That doesn't mean we weren't focused on females in engineering years before, we have a group called Women at Enbridge that was established a long time ago, but we wanted to create a group that specifically focused on females in engineering. This group is basically there to support females in engineering and technology and their allies to provide opportunities to network, develop, share and learn. We do this by running events with internal and external speakers, where we discuss various topics like work-life balance, career development, and women's leadership. These events give opportunities to employees and leaders to meet people who are not part of their department, expand their networks, navigate through their careers and learn about other groups at our company. I like seeing the positive impact our committee has on employee’s development, networking is very important in developing your career.

Do you have any advice for someone entering the engineering field?

I would say whenever you are faced with a challenge, always look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Also, make sure you have a mentor that could support you to overcome any challenges you might face. The mentor could be someone who's from your school or a company, or an engineering organization or chapter that you're part of- anyone who can have an open discussion and support you to overcome any challenges that you might face.

Another thing to add, when you are thinking about joining a new company, do some research about the company and ask people in your network about the programs they offer for employee development and what initiatives they support in the community because it speaks a lot about the company culture.

On mentorship:

There is formal mentoring and there is informal mentoring. Formal mentoring is more focused on one area. Let's say you're interested in finance, so you would reach out to someone from finance and ask for them to be your mentor and say that you’re interested in learning more about finance. Some companies have official mentorship programs where HR will pair you with someone based on your goals and interests. In terms of informal mentoring, it could be either your supervisor, one of your colleagues, or one of your previous supervisors with who you're comfortable. This is someone you could talk to at any time- if you ever come across an issue or need an opinion about something. And sometimes people have more than one mentor. They might have one more formal mentor and then maybe a few more informal mentors.

Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Take advantage of any opportunity that you get, whether it's paid work or volunteering because you'll likely learn a lot from it. Don’t limit yourself to a specific job or a company right after graduating, especially before getting experience and knowing the various opportunities out there. Make sure that you volunteer for organizations and committees in your area of interest and network so you can learn about different companies and the different jobs that are available for engineers. So, I would say early in your career be open to any opportunities and don't limit yourself to one industry or one specific job before you explore all your options.

Also, be willing to relocate within Canada or internationally. Usually, the jobs that are outside the cities are more technical, hands-on and you could learn a lot more. During my few years at Fort McMurray with Suncor, I learned more about engineering and the oil and gas industry than I would have if I took a similar job in the city. It was really a great opportunity for me that I’m glad I chose to take. I’m not saying living in Fort McMurray was easy especially for a female engineer and I know a lot of people turned down similar opportunities because Fort McMurray is too far, a little town in the middle of nowhere, or they didn't know what is it like to work there so they didn't take that opportunity. I would say be open and don't limit yourself.

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