Meet our Innovation & STEM Manager - Iron & Earth

Meet our Innovation & STEM Manager - Jodie Hon

Hello everyone! My name is Jodie Hon and I am the Innovation & STEM Manager with Iron & Earth. My main focus is the Climate Career Portal - our new online platform created to help fossil fuel workers and Indigeneous workers transition to jobs in the net-zero economy. Having gone through my own career transition from oil & gas to renewable energy, I feel strongly about supporting and encouraging others to make the same career change. 

We are all aware of the current and incoming consequences of climate change, and realize the importance of transitioning Canada’s energy economy into more sustainable sources. We have the skills and labour forces, and we have a multitude of sustainable projects in development, we just need something to bridge the gap. That’s where the Climate Career Portal comes in.

 

My personal transition story was thankfully successful, but not without its challenges. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and completed my Chemical and Biological Engineering degree at the University of British Columbia. I knew early on in my degree that I was interested in both sustainability and energy, taking elective courses such as green engineering and energy engineering. Upon graduation and facing a tough employment year, I received a full time job offer from Shell Canada. I started with them in 2015 in Calgary, Alberta in the head office for over a year, and then did a six month field rotation in Fort St. John BC. I always felt it was important to understand our current energy industry, and where we can make immediate improvements to the existing industries. While at Shell, I found myself drawn to projects such as water treatment and methane reduction, seeking out areas where I felt like I could make a difference in the industry’s impact. Even though these projects were helpful to my desire to work in sustainability, I found myself craving a full career transition into the renewable energy industry. 

I spent a year scrolling through job boards and researching masters degrees, thinking that I needed more education in order to qualify for a position. It felt discouraging at the time, as I had only just paid off my student loans from undergrad and didn’t feel prepared to go back into debt. I had a mentorship call with a previous Professor of mine, feeling lost as to what to do next. She told me that I had a good education and work experience, and that if all I wanted was an industry change, I should spend at least a few months minimum applying to jobs and seeing if I could make the switch on my own. She told me that I shouldn’t undermine my own value, and that I should let companies reject me before rejecting myself. 

Through a mixture of networking and luck, I heard about an open position for a low-carbon district energy company in Vancouver called Creative Energy. I applied, and was overjoyed to get the position. I spent four happy years there working on a system that utilized geo-exchange, waste heat recovery, and electric boiler technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 70%. I received a lot of positive mentorship and training during my time there, before deciding to move to another sector of sustainability with Iron & Earth. 

The things I learned most from my own transition story were:

  • Mentorship matters, and having guidance throughout this process is incredibly helpful.
  • There’s no harm in applying to a job you want. Let companies make the decision that you are unqualified, don’t make it for them. 
  • Career transitions can be a challenging journey, emotionally and mentally. Having a supportive and encouraging community can make a big difference. 
  • Your network as a professional is valuable. Make and maintain positive connections. 

This is why I am excited to see tools and resources put into place with the Climate Career Portal that I wish had existed when I was transitioning. Currently, in addition to all the existing features on the portal, we are busy building out a mentorship program for users that will connect them with industry professionals, and workers who have completed a successful career transition. We are also working on building an online community so that users can feel connected to each other and supported by their peers. I am excited to help the Climate Career Portal grow, to build our community of net-zero professionals, and to shift the trajectory of Canada’s energy future.