Virtual Marine Careers Event: Highlights From our First Webinar
On May 24th, the Canadian Marine Careers Foundation (CMCF) and School District 83 hosted their Virtual Marine Careers Event, featuring industry professionals from Western Canada's vibrant marine sector. Students, teachers, and counselors from across the region heard firsthand about dynamic, well-paying careers from a naval architect, a port captain, a marine service technician, and a communications professional.

Moderated by George Richard, Career Education Coordinator for School District 83, the webinar provided valuable insights into the many career opportunities in the marine industry, showing there really is a path for everyone.

As over 43% of Canada’s marine workforce is set to retire in the next decade, there’s never been a better time to find out more about the jobs and people that keep this vital sector afloat.

Here are the highlights from our amazing speakers.

Andra Papuc - Naval Architect at Robert Allan Ltd.

Andra is a Project Naval Architect at Robert Allan Ltd. in Vancouver, BC, where she has been designing boats after graduating from UBC in 2008. Her career journey began with a passion for sailing in high school, which led her to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Naval Architecture at UBC. Her degree was a 5-year program that included 20-months of paid internship work.

Over her 16-year career at Robert Allan Ltd., Andra has worked on a diverse range of commercial vessels, from search and rescue craft to icebreakers. She has progressed from a Junior Naval Architect to a Project Director, managing teams and traveling the world to oversee vessel construction, visiting clients, and attend conferences.

Robert Allan Ltd. is renowned for designing various vessels, including tugboats, firefighting vessels, icebreakers, and research ships, with a strong focus on innovative and environmentally friendly designs. Andra shared her experiences working with cutting-edge technologies, such as battery-electric tugboats, and alternative fuels.

Alex Irwin - Port Captain at SAAM Towage Canada

Alex, a Port Captain for SAAM Towage Canada, manages a fleet of tugboats in British Columbia, ensuring smooth operations at ports and terminals. With a background as a Naval Officer in navigation, diving operations, and ship management, Alex is dedicated to sustainable practices that preserve our oceans for future generations.

His career journey began with a love for water activities in Toronto and a degree in Business Administration, leading him to join the Royal Canadian Navy. There, he served as a Naval Warfare Officer and Navy Diver before transitioning to a civilian role with SAAM Towage.

At SAAM, one of the largest tugboat companies globally, Alex manages operations in BC, coordinating complex maneuvers to guide massive ships safely into port. Alex emphasized the benefits of marine education, encouraging aspiring mariners to enroll in programs like those at BCIT or Western Maritime Institute to get started in the industry.

Alex's role also involves extensive travel, both within BC and internationally, to oversee new vessel construction and develop training programs.

Isaac Caveran - Marine Service Technician at Quadrant Marine Institute

Isaac is a seasoned Marine Service Technician (MST) with Quadrant Marine Institute in Vancouver. With ten years of experience working on a diverse range of vessels, Isaac’s expertise encompasses the installation, repair, and maintenance of systems on pleasure crafts of all sizes, from kayaks to super yachts.

Originally studying to be an actor, Isaac’s journey into the marine industry began with a family friend’s request for help, which sparked his interest in trades and led him to complete his apprenticeship at Quadrant Marine Institute. Now, as the MST Apprenticeship Program Facilitator, he works closely with industry leaders to deliver professional certification and training to students across Canada.

Isaac highlighted the diverse and dynamic nature of an MST career, where no 2 days are alike. The job offers a range of experiences from working on the water to handling tasks in dry dock, and the skills learned as an MST are transferable to other industries, including aerospace.

Michael Lowry - Sr. Manager of Communications at Western Canada Marine Response

Michael is the Senior Manager of Communications at Western Canada Marine Response (WCMRC. He earned a degree in communications and politics from the University of Calgary and the London School of Economics. He has developed successful campaigns for notable organizations such as Harbour Air, Pacific Blue Cross, and Columbia Power.

Michael's career journey has taken him from the prairies to the coast, where he transitioned from a communications role in Calgary to media relations in Vancouver, discovering his passion for the marine industry along the way. Now, at WCMRC, Michael leverages his expertise to effectively communicate the importance of marine spill response and environmental protection.

While oil spills remain a primary concern, WCMRC's expertise extends to responding to other types of spills, such as tallow, canola, and even wood chips, demonstrating their adaptability and important role as environmental stewards. With a strong focus on safety and community engagement, WCMRC works closely with industries and communities to ensure preparedness and response.

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