It’s all about building trust: What we learned at a conference for young pipeline professionals

Building trust in the pipeline industry is a challenge—one that is becoming more difficult as the conversation about pipelines becomes more divided in North America. The Young Pipeliners Association of Canada (YPAC) honed in on this topic for its 2017 conference in Edmonton on August 24 and 25. The theme was “Building Trust”, and it’s clear from taking part in the sessions and speaking with attendees, that the pipeline industry is up for the challenge.

Here are a few of the lessons learned at the event.

Trust is about more than communication – much more

In order to build trust, the transmission pipeline industry must perform in every aspect of operations – such as planning and engagement, construction, maintenance, emergency preparedness. The pressure is on – even one small incident draws the wrong kind of attention to the industry, which has the potential to damage trust.

CEPA members are working together to reach their goal of zero incidents, and industry is committed to continuously improving in every aspect of operations. The new generation of pipeline professionals shares this same commitment.

Engagement is genuine

It’s easy to look at all of the regulatory demands of pipeline planning, construction and maintenance and assume that companies are just going through the motions and checking boxes.

That’s not the case.

Leaders and employees of pipeline operators believe that engagement is important, which is evident in their stories and approach to informing and involving members of the public ‘early and often’.

Engagement is a priority

One of the more surprising stats mentioned in the conference sessions is that most CEOs spend 35-40 per cent of their time on external engagement. With this commitment to engagement starting at the top of pipeline companies, it’s become an integral part of their culture.

Collaboration is the future

Sharing research and leading practices was a focus of this conference, and it was embraced by attendees. In our blog last week, Meredith Adler of Student Energy said that young people are open to collaboration and sharing around innovation. This was evident throughout the conference —particularly in a well-attended session where three innovative research papers were shared, including Building Trust: Engaging Canada’s Youth through Experiential Learning, winner of the YPAC Paper Award.

YPAC and the attendees at the conference are the future of the industry. As a sponsor of YPAC and the conference, CEPA is proud to continue to support the growth of a safe and responsible transmission pipeline industry in Canada.