TEAM PROFILE

A passionate problem solver

Skya Fawcett enjoys tackling tough environmental challenges.

Skya Fawcett Skya Fawcett, PhD, Senior Geochemist

Skya Fawcett was drawn to the environmental sciences at a young age, watching shows hosted by David Suzuki while seeing her father work in the field of geology in the Calgary area.

“I grew up learning about rocks, mountains, and coral reefs. That was where it all started,” she says.

Upon finishing high school, Skya enrolled at the University of Calgary to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Geology. She soon learned it wasn’t quite for her.

“It was mostly oil and gas based, but I wanted to do more of an environmental-based degree,” she says. “I looked around for other options and ended up at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish (Nova Scotia). They had a good environmental geosciences program and aquatic resources program, and I got a degree in both.”

As Skya was wrapping up her undergraduate program, she earned an NSERC scholarship (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) to further her education.

“That gave me the resources to do my master’s degree and I decided to study with Heather Jamieson at Queen’s University. I started my master’s looking at arsenic and antimony at the Giant Mine, an abandoned gold mine near Yellowknife,” she says. “That was a really exciting project, there was so much going on there.”

About a year and a half into her degree, Skya realized it was a much bigger project than a master’s degree, so she upgraded to a PhD and completed her thesis. Upon completion of her PhD, she took a job with Lorax Environmental Services in Vancouver and worked there for five years. She quickly found she really enjoyed the world of environmental consulting.

“I liked consulting because I enjoy the diversity of projects and experiences,” she says. “I like being able to have that 30,000-feet view. While the operators know their sites well, in many cases I can apply broader and extensive regional context or even wider than that – in some cases, global experience, that can be applied at the site-wide scale.”

At this point, Skya decided to start a family and welcomed a child into the world. Wanting to be closer to family, she packed up and moved back to Calgary accepting a position at Golder Associates (now WSP), where she worked for the past decade before joining Ecometrix.

“I grew up learning about rocks, mountains, and coral reefs. That was where it all started.”

Ecometrix being an employee-owned company really appealed to Skya when she was deciding on where she would go next to continue growing her career.

“I like being invested emotionally and financially in the company that I work for because I think it provides extra motivation; because you’re going to see the benefits in the end,” she says. “I also like being an owner because I can influence the direction of the company, or the policies being made.”

Skya also liked the size of Ecometrix and how engaged the staff was when she came for a tour of the head office.

“It’s a very different feel with smaller companies. One of the things I like about the smaller size is it’s more like a family. You’re not just going in to do a job and that’s it,” she says. “People tend to go the extra mile when you form those relationships.”

Those projects tend to go to bigger companies, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ecometrix is engaged in these types of projects. It’s rare.

Another factor that attracted Skya to the company was that Ecometrix can secure the kinds of challenging contracts often awarded only to larger firms.

“One of the things I really enjoyed was when I could be the aquatic lead on larger impact assessments, which includes a lot of the disciplines related to water – hydrology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, water quality, aquatic health, and fish. I like to take the findings related to the water disciplines and tie them all together – to tell the story more comprehensively and holistically, in a way that the average person who doesn’t have the technical experience can understand. Those projects tend to go to bigger companies, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Ecometrix is engaged in these types of projects. It’s rare.” she says.

Skya is excited to be part of the team setting up Ecometrix’s new office based in Calgary.

“Being able to set up the office and have a say in what it looks like and who we will hire is pretty exciting,” she says.

Skya is hoping that the new Calgary team will bring Ecometrix work in the oil sands, a new venture for the company.

“We’ll use the experience that Ecometrix has in other industries and apply it to the oil sands,” she says. “There’s lots of opportunities to bring in new methods, new perspectives, and Ecometrix has brought investment in innovation and can push boundaries further.”