Q & A
Women in Forestry
Growth opportunities: Q&A with Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s Brenna Boyle
By Ellen Cools
Brenna Boyle is Pinnacle Renewable Energy’s assistant terminal manager at the Westview terminal in Prince Rupert, B.C. Initially attracted to the industry because of the sustainability of wood pellets, she is now coordinating vessel and rail operations, overseeing a crew of 10-13 men.
Canadian Biomass: What was your career path that led you to the wood pellet industry?
I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography from the University of Northern British Columbia, this degree led me to work in the environmental field. Knowing that I wanted to be in northwest B.C., I headed back to Prince Rupert and began working with Ecotrust Canada, coordinating and managing the electronic monitoring systems with the Area A commercial crab fleet. After outgrowing the position, I applied for an opening with Pinnacle Renewable Energy as the terminal safety, operations and administration officer.
Canadian Biomass: Did you have any mentors that helped you get to this point in your career?
Yes, my friend, Faye Hirshfield, who is a successful woman in industry. Faye has a PhD in hydraulic engineering and is a hydrologist with a consulting firm on Vancouver Island. Faye is a woman who works in a male dominated field and has shown me ways to deal with challenges in the workplace. Not only is Faye a great leader and mentor, she is also an advocate for women in industry.
Canadian Biomass: What’s involved in your role as assistant terminal manager?
My role as the assistant terminal manager involves managing operations, committing to our safety program and overseeing our crew of 10-13 guys who operate within the terminal, among a few other things. Day-to-day, a large focus of my job is vessel and rail logistics –unloading pellets from rail cars to loading those pellets onto ships that can hold over 60,000 metric tonnes.
Canadian Biomass: So, what do you like most about the wood pellet industry?
That’s a short and sweet answer: the fact that pellets are a sustainable resource and a great alternative to coal.
Canadian Biomass: As a woman in the industry, have you run into any particular challenges or hurdles?
Yes. I am a 31-year-old woman working as a manager in a male-dominated industry. My crew’s ages span from 20-70 years old – we’re talking five decades. The challenges I deal with generally relate to differing communication styles and motivations. I like to look at these challenges as both personal and professional growth opportunities.
Canadian Biomass: So, what do you think needs to be done to encourage more women into the wood pellet industry?
There are opportunities out there and we need to have the confidence to apply for those jobs. I think events, like the Women in Forestry Virtual Summit, are important for women to attend to both increase awareness of what the forest sector involves and how we (women) can get into leadership positions within the industry.
Canadian Biomass: What advice do you have for women interested in a career in the sector?
My advice for other women is to be yourself. Confidence, communication and consistency are key to helping you in your career. These factors have helped me earn respect as a leader in the workplace. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am fortunate to have a fantastic support network that has helped me overcome the early challenges and the steep learning curve of this industry.
Lastly, I would also like to mention that finding a company that aligns with your values is important. Pinnacle Renewable Energy has been that company for me, and has facilitated and supported me in my career growth and goals.
This post is part of Canadian Biomass, CFI and Pulp & Paper Canada‘s Women in Forestry series celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. Find more content here and follow us on social media with the hashtags: #WomeninForestry, #IWD2021 and #ChooseToChallenge.