A Career That Offers A Healthy Work-Life Balance

"What I loved about the engineering program is that it’s far more collaborative than it is competitive."

Erin Madro

Erin Madro

  • Degree: Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Grad year: 2013
  • Program:
  • Campus: Vancouver

Specialization: Environmental

Job title as of 2023: Principal, Evok Innovations

Why did you want to study engineering?

I initially thought I wanted to make an impact in the world by being an investigative journalist, perhaps focusing on the environmental side of things. My mom is an engineer, and she helped me see that if you want to make a difference, there is no better degree than engineering to do that. Engineering teaches you how to solve problems, how to look at the world in a very pragmatic way and how to come forward with practical solutions. There’s an infinite number of careers that you can take on, but I found it to be more about developing a skillset and a way of thinking that can serve you anywhere you go and in any career you choose.

Why Engineering 

Erin and her Mom

Why did you choose UBC?

I wanted to tackle environmental challenges around the world because I saw and understood the impacts of major industries, from mining to refining. UBC was one of the only universities at the time that offered an environmental focus in tackling these challenges. So I left Calgary and moved to Vancouver in 2008 full of excitement to be taking on this new adventure in engineering.

Why did you choose Chemical Engineering?

I was initially pointed in the direction of environmental engineering, which was a relatively new discipline at the time. From a job perspective, I decided to pursue chemical engineering and focus on the environmental side of things as it seemed to be a more recognized path across industries and easier to find employment opportunities. I thought the best strategy to make an impact was to be on the inside and from there, I could bring forward improvements from a sustainability lens.

Chemical Engineering

What were some highlights of your undergraduate experience?

What I loved about the engineering program is that it’s far more collaborative than it is competitive. The program is designed to push a huge volume of information at you and the only way to get through it is by working with others and leaning on each other for support. You don't realize how important that is until later on in life when your professional career is all about working together with people in teams.  

I was also very involved in the Women in Engineering program at the time as a leader. We organized a lot of events and mentorship programs. As I've come along in my career, I’ve continued to support and advocate for women in industry.

I would love to see more women take this path, because I think there is a tremendous opportunity to make an impact and work towards the positive changes we need in the world.

On a personal level, it has been a career that’s offered a healthy balance between work and life and empowered me both professionally and financially – that’s coming from a new mom with two kids under the age of two!

Women In Engineering 

Erin with her Family

Tell us about your career since graduation.

When I graduated, I had a full-time offer with Cenovus Energy in Calgary. I started with their rotational programs, including production engineering in the field, and then reservoir and development engineering. After receiving my P.Eng designation, I began an MBA at the University of Calgary during the evenings in parallel with my full-time work. This shift enabled me to move into more strategic roles, initially in digital transformation, looking at how tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies could spark opportunities. After that, I was fortunate to get back to my roots in sustainability with an opportunity to help Cenovus develop a strategy to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In this role, I began working closely with early-stage companies developing radical solutions to transform the way we use energy and resources in industry. It felt like I had found my calling and I was hooked.

Cenovus had a partnership with Suncor Energy through a venture capital group called Evok Innovations, based in Vancouver. Evok was founded to invest in, but also support and nurture, early-stage companies that could deliver environmental benefits, largely on the carbon reduction side of things. I was assessing early technologies to identify how they could be implemented and adopted long term on a commercial basis. After a secondment (and some time away with my first born), I formally joined the Evok team in March 2022.

I now spend my days talking to early-stage companies that are removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere, producing hydrogen in new ways, enabling industrial electrification and other areas of innovation to decarbonize our industries.

Evok identifies good solutions and strong teams to back them against the challenges of scaling up and integrating them into industry practices. We are looking at the technical and commercial side of the business. When we find companies we like, we make investments and support their growth and development in the years to come.

Cenovus EnergySuncor EnergyEvok Innovations 

Erin at Work

What are the highlights of your job?

I think I have the best job in the world because I get to work with such incredible people. I get to engage every day with entrepreneurs and founders who, most of the time, are engineers.

They are developing innovative, radical, game-changing technologies that will revolutionize industry and help us adapt to and reduce the impacts of climate change.

I connect with everyone from electrical engineers developing novel technologies to reduce energy consumption to people trying to directly removing carbon out of the atmosphere or oceans. I am surrounded by people who are changing the world.

As an engineer, the exciting part is that you have the scientific and technical knowledge to understand the challenges and see where the issues stem from.

And you can also use that same thinking to understand what the solutions might look like. My industry background helps me translate applications to businesses in order to build a better future.

Erin with a Colleague

Any advice for people considering engineering?

If you're somebody who wants to make a positive impact on the world, and you want a degree that gives you the credentials to do almost anything, engineering is a path that opens a lot of doors and can support whatever passions you have.  

Find me on: LinkedIn

Student in a lab using a micropipette.

Chemical Engineering

Play a role in research; engineer safer, greener product formulations and processes; and help discover and develop new ways to minimize society’s environmental footprint, while maximizing value in the real world.

Chemical Engineering

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