Day in the Life: Sheena – Surface Land Administrator

Posted February 26, 2013 by Blog AdministratorDay in the Life

After completing her Petroleum Land Administration certificate from SAIT in 2007 with no job offer in sight, Sheena Myers considered giving up on her career in the oil and gas industry. As fate would have it, Sheena received a call three months after her interview with Encana that changed everything for the junior administrator. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Sheena’s first foray into the energy industry was working as an Acquisitions and Divestiture Administrator on Encana’s Surface Land team, and admits now that when she first accepted the job she wasn’t even sure what an Acquisitions and Divestiture (A&D) Administrator was supposed to do. Five years later, Sheena is adept in combing through files and managing start-to-finish due diligence on assets that the company may be selling or acquiring. Sheena worked with internal stakeholders including mineral land, legal groups, corporate groups, and key surface land groups in order to manage projects effectively and meet closing dates.

Sheena’s first board room meeting left her feeling intimidated, clearly indicating that she needed to refine her public speaking and leadership skills. After joining Toastmasters, Sheena’s confidence grew and she discovered that she was skilled at creating strong working relationships with external contacts, resulting in faster turnaround times on closing deals. Sheena enjoyed dealing with people and building relationships so much that she started to look for a role that aligned with her goal of interacting more with key stakeholders and landowners in the communities where Encana works.

In 2010, Sheena transitioned to a specialized group within Encana’s surface land team, supporting sensitive projects where interested parties have concerns regarding a proposed project on or near their lands. In many instances, reaching resolution requires her participation in Energy Resources Conservation Board  (ERBC) Appropriate Dispute Resolution conferences (ADR), ERCB Public Hearings, Surface Rights Board (SRB) Dispute Resolution Conferences (DRC), Mediations, and SRB Public Hearings.

While each new opportunity brings its own set of challenges, Sheena takes pride in knowing that she contributes to creating and building trust between landowners and Encana. “When negotiations start, each side can be miles apart,” says Sheena. “However, when you truly listen to the concerns, there’s almost an immediate shift. No matter how long and how hard you had to work to reach that resolution, it’s worth it when our stakeholders feel respected and involved in the process.”

My typical day looks like this — I am an early riser and my job gives me the flexibility to start early and be home for dinner; days involving field work sometimes means a longer day than usual. A typical day involves continuous communication on projects, project management, and problem solving.

I could spend some days working through files doing administrative tasks like processing annual compensation reviews, booking & attending meetings, and following up on projects. When meeting with landowners, discussions range from new acquisitions, annual compensation reviews, damages, and/or any concerns they may have about our operations.

Work environment — Working on sensitive projects can be demanding at times as you transition from one priority to the next. The projects are ongoing and can take a long time to complete. The key to successfully reaching a resolution is patience and faith in the process.

The geographical areas I work in are east of Calgary, along Highway 21 up to the Red Deer area.

The overall culture of the work environment within the group I work in is positive, uplifting, and encouraging. It’s a great place to try something new, where you feel safe to make a mistake as the team is supportive and fosters new learnings. Although heading out to the field can be intimidating, within our group interim land agents are never alone and always have the guidance and support of senior colleagues. Overall, the culture of the negotiations and mediations I’ve been a part of have been exciting and inspiring. As an interim land agent I’m consistently learning new things.

Right now, I’m working on — Currently I’m working on following up on some action items that came out of an ERCB Appropriate Dispute Resolution conference (ADR) with a landowner. This involves working closely with the survey company, construction personnel and the asset teams to respond to the requests of the landowner and in preparation of our next ADR. I manage Gantt charts as means of project management for ERCB non-routine applications as well as a communication tool for messaging deliverables to the development teams. In my down time I continuously work on creating and updating processes to do my job more effectively.

Skills I use most in the job are — Listening, collaborating, and organization are my most commonly used skills. As a licensed land agent, I am learning new things daily and listening to my peers and stakeholders is very helpful in being successful. It is important to practice interest-based negotiations by seeking first to understand. I enjoy collaborating to capture the best solution for the concerns we deal with in our group. When we put our heads together we often come up with effective, creative solutions. An administrator sees things differently than an engineer, and your approach to truly connect with each individual is essential.

The kinds of problems I solve at work — The problems or challenges I face can be very unique. An example of this was a fact-finding mission in regards to a landowner’s irrigation system. A colleague and I had to find out who, what, where, when and if anything occurred with respect to their pivot and riser system as a direct result of our operations. I encounter challenges internally and externally with respect to communication; there are so many moving parts and different groups involved in a project.

What I love about my job — I love the diversity in my work, the stakeholders I get to interact with and most of all the learning’s I am blessed with daily.

My career path — I am excited to continue on my adventure in the surface land world and now that I’ve earned by permanent landman license I look forward to advancing my career. Recently I accepted a position within the BC Major Infrastructure group, where I will have new exciting opportunities to learn and develop. I am eager to polish my project management skills with the practical lessons I get in my day to day work. I am currently working toward becoming a member of CAPL.

What surprised me most about the oil and gas industry — There were two things about oil and gas that surprised me, the many different hats you can wear as an administrator and the unique styles of negotiation. I believe the key to a successful negotiation is being able to adapt to the people you are interacting with.

Company: Encana

Location: Calgary, AB

Department: Surface Land Administrator and Licensed Surface Land Agent, BC Major Infrastructure

Education: Petroleum Land Administration certificate, SAIT