Tara Smith: Calgary Young Professional Profile

Tara Smith is a bright, young engineer that works in downtown Calgary. While balancing a busy work life, she still manages to find time for networking events, lending her services as a make-up artist to friends and colleagues and being involved with volleyball leagues in town. 

Where do you work? Encana Corporation.

What do you do? I am a Completions Engineer with specific focus on operations pertaining to artificial lift solutions, as well as execution on non-potable water source well development.

Homegrown in Calgary or Transplant? Born and raised in Saskatoon, SK, had a brief stint in Greensboro, NC, and Lafayette, LA, before officially sinking roots into Calgary with my husband.

One thing we might not know about your profession: We’re not all introverted, socially awkward, techno-geeks… although, I must say I do love my calculator.

Best career tip for other YPs: I have a few “tips” that I strive to follow myself, whether they can serve as useful for others is up to them: 1. Leverage and respect the knowledge and experience of the people you work with, and utilize what you can to propel you up the learning curve; you can learn something from everyone; 2. Your relationships are important. Whether in business or personal, they must be built upon a foundation of respect. Integrity goes a long way in sustaining a symbiotic network; 3. Paradigm shifts are required for innovation, so don’t be afraid to step outside the box and suggest or pursue a unique idea, concept, or business venture – just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t…and if you’re keeping up with tips 1 and 2, you will have a multitude of resources available to help you along the way.

Most common mistake you see other YPs make: Focusing solely on work, although it may seem counterintuitive to believe that focusing on things other than work could in fact help you be more efficient and more successful in your profession. We all know the simple rule with respect to investments is diversifying your portfolio; the same can be said about investing in yourself as a person. I believe it is important to have a balanced life, to feel fulfilled both at work and in your personal life, and that having hobbies or outlets are critical to managing stress, increasing your energy and efficiency, and allowing you to be your best self. 

For me, I employ physical, social, and creative outlets to maintain balance. Playing sports, planning and engaging in networking events, and doing makeup for friends and family gives me my balance. 

How do you find a happy balance between striving for success and being happy with where you are?  This is definitely an interesting question, and one that I often ask myself being that I am still early in my career. The reason I find it so difficult to fully formulate a concrete answer is because the definitions of success and happiness continuously change and evolve – for me, at least – as I encounter new experiences in my life. However, I will try to articulate some form of an answer as best as I can for what is relevant to me currently:

First of all, “success” in the context of this question is interpreted as being separate from where I am at present, as well as separate from being happy with where I am. However, for me right now success is defined as a result of being challenged, exposed to new ideas, operations, and technology that expand my knowledge base, working closely with and learning from people in industry that are considered experts at what they do, and striving to continuously elevate my quality of work. It is for this reason that I am actually happy with where I am and feel that I am is fulfilling my criterion for “success.” That being said, I do understand that as my knowledge base and skills grow, I will start re-scoping my definition of success; it will then be important for me to put new goals in place and map out a strategic plan to achieve them. 

Favourite restaurant in the city? There are so many great restaurants in Calgary, so it’s very difficult to choose. If I had to pick one, I’d say Alloy, although I haven’t been there in quite some time (*hint to my husband).