RESOLUTE: What interested you about working in the forest products industry?
Marie-Philippe Drouin (MPD): When I was working on my grad project for Resolute, I would often call people at the mill to get information and, interestingly, they didn’t always have a ready answer because things are always changing at a pulp and paper mill. It made me realize that papermaking is a dynamic field, always evolving. Before I started working for the company, I thought my challenges would all be pretty straightforward: You take some wood chips, refine and bleach them and make some paper. It’s a process that has existed for generations, and I didn’t really think there was much to improve upon.
But every day we are improving the process, working on the details that will enhance quality, efficiency or cost, and help make us competitive in a challenging marketplace.
RESOLUTE: What do you think of working in an industrial environment?
MPD: I’m not a person who likes to spend all her time behind a desk, and working at the mill is a very active job. There are some great challenges to resolve here. If you don’t like routine, this is a great environment. It’s also a very ‘real’ job because you see the raw material at the start and the finished product at the other end.
RESOLUTE: Did you worry about safety?
MPD: When friends first heard I was going to work in pulp and paper they would tell me to be careful, that paper mills could be a dangerous place. But Resolute provided me with training before I was even allowed on the mill floor. I have seen the safety work Resolute is doing first hand — all the reporting, the training, the careful use of eye protection, gloves, boots and hats. It’s all an important part of the culture here and it’s something I personally value. The Kénogami mill recently achieved 996,000 hours of work without OSHA incidents. Some of my hours contributed to that and it makes me proud.
RESOLUTE: What opportunity does your work offer you?
MPD: I haven’t been here more than one year and already I’ve seen far more engineering than I ever covered in school. I have friends who went to work for engineering consulting firms. They work on one part of a process and they get a narrower focus. Here, my work goes beyond chemical engineering. I work closely with mechanical and electrical engineers and I’m always learning from them. There’s also a lot of retirements coming up so there is opportunity for advancement in this field.
RESOLUTE: How will this work help your career?
MPD: This is a great opportunity to learn in a collaborative setting. Not everyone gets this kind of framework that supports learning as part of a team. Because my work introduces me to many different areas of engineering, I know I will become a better engineer as a result.
RESOLUTE: What do you think about working in the forest products industry?
MPD: People have been talking about paper disappearing for years, but paper will continue to have its place in communications. Mills that are working to be competitive will always see possibilities. I believe in the viability of Resolute and of the Kénogami mill. Of course it’s always hard to know, but I think that if we continue to work the way we are working here and focus on finding efficiencies that bring down our operating costs, we can be here for a long time