Executive Project Director, Fluor

Mary Heinking has seen a lot of changes in the industry in the past three decades.

"I can still remember my first boss making sure the clients we were due to meet with knew that he was bringing a woman along since he didn't want to shock them," recalls Heinking, executive project director at Fluor, an engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance and project management firm whose Canadian operations are based in Calgary.

"Nowadays, things are very different and better. There are a lot more women working in the industry-as engineers, in project controls, materials management, etc. The engineering and construction industryan extremely challenging one and it really needs the contributions that everyone, male and female alike, have to offer."

Heinking caught our attention with her work at the Long Lake Upgrader, a joint venture between Nexen and Opti Canada.

During a four-year period, she was Fluor's project manager for the construction and construction management of the sulphur recovery unit, as well as project manager for the engineering and procurement of the hydrocracker and gasification silos.

"Being a project director allows me to leverage my technical skills while figuring out how to motivate and manage a highly diverse group of people," says Heinking, who has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.

Heinking, who has been with Fluor for 19 years and calls Canada "hands-down the best place I ever worked," says she's proud of the safety record of the projects she's worked on: "Making sure the team and the craft workers on site know that we will not compromise our commitment to safety is something I take personally."

Lately Heinking, who has lived and worked in multiple countries, has been spending time between Calgary and Russia, where she is developing project management training manuals and conducting training for the Sibur Group, one of Russia's leading petrochemical companies.

But projects with a construction component have a special attraction.

"I love seeing what has been designed, transformed into reality at the job site; it is such a ‘wow' moment," she says. "I always encourage the newer people working for me to take site assignments and tell them that they will learn three times as much in the same period of time at the job site as compared with the home office."

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