Women of STAC Feature: Valerie Girard

Valerie Girard hi res

Valerie Girard, Implementation Manager (IM) for Northwestel

How long have you been working in your field?
Born and raised in Montreal, I moved to Whitehorse in 2011 to become bilingual. From Quebec to Yukon, my former professional experiences include being a veterinary technician, biogeochemical lab assistant (research on mercury bioavailability), college teacher, environmental scientist for Stantec Consulting (2007-2015), and from 2015 to 2022, I was the OHS advisor for Northwestel, the most northern and remote telecommunication company in Canada. My wide professional experience allowed me to use and adapt different H&S programs to various industries such as biosafety in a research center (with genetically modified goats), animal hospitals, oil & gas, nuclear station, mining exploration, military base, and more recently telecommunication. Now an implementation manager (since May 2022), I am the one hiring consultants and contractors to work on my projects, comparing their safety practices to the ones I helped to develop over the years. I love it because I feel this job is exactly the challenge I was looking for at this time of my life.

Why is the Women of STAC important to you?
In 2017, I discovered STAC online to see what other telecommunication companies were doing for H&S. I am detail-oriented, but also like to see the big picture; I wanted to know what the other telecom “players” were doing to be in the “game”. STAC was exactly what I was looking for, making me feel part of the bigger telecom family, expending my views outside Northwestel via the resources available online. To move further ahead, I applied and won the 2021 Women of STAC bursary to do a project management course, making me realize that it was a good fit for me. In 2022, feeling more confident, I started looking for a management position within NWTel, which was also looking to hire more women in STEM to promote diversity. I got the job! Now in 2023, when STAC announced the annual conferences in person again after the COVID pandemic, I thought that was my opportunity to meet everyone from STAC to tell my success story and inspire others to participate into different committees and programs because it worked so well for me. So, I applied again, won the 2023 bursary, and will be using it to pay part of the significant costs not covered by my employer to travel from the Yukon to Niagara Falls. It was
with great pleasure and privilege that I strengthen my connections with my now extended telecom family from across Canada.

v girad bike

What is your favorite thing to do when you have time away from work?
H&S means a lot to me so when I am not at work, I do volunteer for Yukon Search & Rescue (YSAR) and the Whitehorse General Hospital. I also like being active, constantly challenging myself with activities like triathlon (Ironman), ultra running (50km), ice swimming, crossfit, mountain biking, dog training, hiking, scuba diving and free diving. I try to lead by example and show my friends that H&S can be fun.

What motivates you? How do you define success?
Success motivates me and I define success as being happy in what I am doing. That might explain why I changed career so many times and do so many things. I firmly believe in transferable skills and that everything you learn is or will be useful in your life. That’s also my piece of advice for recent new hires.

v girad dancePeople would be surprised to learn this about you?
Always looking for new challenges, I did an audition to be a cancan dancer and, to my surprise, was selected, not because of my dancing skills but because of my attitude. I have done it for 6 years. Being out of my comfort zone, putting efforts to learn something new is addictive, as long as it’s done safely

What is your favorite quote?
“Do not fear failure but be terrified of regrets”