Oct. 26, 2022
Entrepreneur in the energy diversification sector lifts up women in volunteer work
If there’s one thing that annoys 34-year-old powerhouse Katie Smith-Parent, BA'10, it’s when people ask her how she does everything. But the question is legit. Not only does her portfolio at Spartan Controls Ltd. (an industrial automation company) include business development in support of energy diversification, decarbonization, life sciences and building technologies, but also consider the heft of her volunteer work. As executive director of the Alberta-wide organization Young Women in Energy (YWE), and co-founder and board director of Axis Connects in Calgary — organizations both dedicated to championing women — Smith-Parent has added more than 3,000 members since taking the helm of YWE in 2015, launched a podcast, developed a book club and golf league, and handed out more than 80 awards celebrating the next generation of energy leaders. She is also a cabinet member for the OWN.CANCER campaign — a partnership between UCalgary, Alberta Cancer Foundation and Alberta Health Services to raise $250-million for the new Calgary Cancer Centre.
When you were a student, where did you hang out on campus?
Where else but The Den!
Political science and English.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
This may sound odd, but I think it’s the time and effort I put into YWE, and the amazing friendships and connections I’ve been privileged to gain from that experience. Frankly, I prefer giving out awards (instead of getting them), and I feel very proud and fortunate to be able to be a small part of someone else’s career journey.
What is the most satisfying thing about your job?
The day-to-day variety — in the people I work with, as well as the industries I’m focused on.
If you were to go back to school, what would you take?
A doctorate in business.
Any advice for students or new grads?
Try absolutely everything — you never know what might stick.
A guilty pleasure?
Why is mentorship important?
It’s an opportunity to look at your blind spots from another lens. I’m particularly passionate about peer mentorship, where you don’t need to be an expert to be of value to a peer, whether through encouragement or a sounding board.
What are you reading these days?
YWE’s next book club book — “Indian” in the Cabinet by Jody Wilson-Raybould.
What is the most annoying question that people ask you?
How do you do it all? But, if you’re truly passionate about something, it seems less like work.
With files from Avenue Magazine.
Meet the entire 2022 cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honourees at Avenue Magazine.