The people of pipelines: Kelly Matthews, senior corporate social responsibility advisor

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been introducing you to some of the people employed by the pipeline industry. It’s their job to ensure that Canada’s vast network of transmission pipelines safely and efficiently transport the energy we rely on in our everyday lives.

The lifecycle of a pipeline involves a number of steps. For each one, there are Canadians working to make sure everything is done properly, including:

Kelly Matthews, Senior Corporate Social Responsibility Advisor for TransCanada

Time on the job:

I have been in my current role since August of 2012. I started with TransCanada in Corporate Communications in May of 2001 and moved in to Community Relations in 2005.

Location: 07_03 Kelly Talking

Calgary Head Office


I came to TransCanada with diplomas from NAIT and Mount Royal College with a focus on business administration and public relations.

While at TransCanada, I’ve had the opportunity to take Aboriginal Awareness, Media Response, Safe Driver and Emergency Response training sessions.

I also completed my accreditation through the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in 2010, earning the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation.

Most recently, I completed The Accountability Project’s Sustainability Practitioner Training, which focused on Sustainability and CSR Essentials, Engaging Stakeholders Effectively in CSR, Creating Value through Sustainability Reporting and Sustainability Assurance.

What my job entails:

At TransCanada, we define Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as our commitment to operating in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner, while recognizing the interests of our stakeholders. My CSR role was established last year to lead the development of a CSR Framework, CSR communication processes and tools, and continuously improve our CSR reporting.

CSR is a business philosophy similar to safety in the way that no one department at TransCanada “owns” it.  Effective CSR requires a collaborative effort across the company and leadership from the top. Some of the departments I work with on a regular basis include: Environment, Investor Relations, Supply Chain Management and Communications.

Where my job fits within the life cycle of a pipeline:

As TransCanada continues to grow, we interact with diverse stakeholders across North America. Building positive relationships with our stakeholders enhances our business performance by managing expectations, minimizing risk, identifying opportunities and improving decision-making. We consider stakeholders’ perspectives through every stage of the pipeline lifecycle: prospecting, proposal, definition, implementation through to operations.

As a CSR Advisor, I am often called upon to work with project and operational teams to provide advice on how to integrate principles of CSR, such as inclusivity, transparency and responsiveness, in to their plans and communication efforts.

How I’ve been trained to help in the case of a pipeline emergency:

While in our Corporate Communications and Community Relations departments, I participated in an emergency pager rotation where I was on call 24/7 in the case of an emergency. Employees assigned to this pager rotation are trained to know what to do in the event of pipeline or power emergency.

In my new CSR role, I would be more involved after the emergency situation is contained to ensure TransCanada is communicating in a transparent manner with its stakeholders to build trust and credibility.

What I enjoy most about my job:

As inhabitants of the planet and users of energy, we should all care about the environment and sustainable development. I’ve had people ask me how I can work for an energy infrastructure company if I care about the environment. My response is that I feel like I have a tremendous amount influence working inside the company. I see first-hand how TransCanada treats people and the environment with respect.

I also enjoy bringing people together from different areas of the company and working together toward a common goal. Some refer to it as ‘cat herding’, but I actually find it quite rewarding!

My current role is the perfect platform for me to use my communications and stakeholder engagement education and experience. TransCanada is a values-driven company and I am thrilled to be in a position to help tell our CSR story.

What you might be surprised to learn about my job:

I challenge the status quo! Our approach to CSR is based on our corporate values of Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Collaboration. Even though I’ve been with the company for 12 years, I am always looking for opportunities to exercise our value of Innovation by questioning and improving how we do things.

Want to know more about what it’s like to work in the pipeline industry? Check out our other people of pipelines profiles:

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 110,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2011, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.