Bruce MacKay

I have always had a pretty strong sense of WHY I was doing something. Even if the fabric of the plan has changed over time, the adherence to a few key "compass points" has allowed me to work through most sets of alternatives with confidence.
 
Schlumberger Technology Corporation
Principal Chemist and Client Support Manager
Medicine Hat, Canada
Sugar Land, United States
A New Reaction For Coordinated Dinitrogen
Michael Fryzuk
2004
 

Where and what is your current position?

I lead R&D / tech support teams in the key areas of well cementing and completion, helping oil and gas companies safely and efficiently produce more hydrocarbons to serve society's energy and material needs. Technology evaluation, research and development, and motivating technically-minded people are all on my daily to-do list. I also spend a lot of time communicating with management, customers, and the public on chemical issues & concepts.

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

No! My first career was owning a bicycle shop! My current situation is the happiest of accidents, but I am utterly certain I have ended up in a place where I belong. In my current role, I can put my skills to effective use within significant projects that offer me a high sense of accomplishment.

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

The most important carryover from my graduate training is my ability to rapidly integrate diverse and noisy bits of technical information so we can properly advise our oil & gas customers toward the best engineering choices. It's amazing how often this reduces to a strong fundamental understanding of chemical mechanisms!

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

Well, I was (and am!) utterly fascinated by the chemistry of transition metals. To be frank, it was the colours that got me hooked - the mechanism nuances were a delightful surprise! I have also always liked making things, so it seemed natural to push further into research.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

UBC Chemistry is a fantastic department - the faculty has a strong "family feel", without any compromise to the quality of the research performed. I loved Vancouver!

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

I have always had a pretty strong sense of WHY I was doing something. Even if the fabric of the plan has changed over time, the adherence to a few key "compass points" has allowed me to work through most sets of alternatives with confidence. This is true both in terms of the science and in terms of career progression.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

A mind should be both open AND agile! Look constantly outside your box, and live out your values in everything you do.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

Since I love where I have ended up, it would be cheeky to claim I would have done anything differently, at least as far as career planning goes. Grad school is hard but it isn't "unnecessarily" hard - research entails commitment. It's easier if you are fascinated - if the subject matter gets you up in the morning even on the bad days.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

Making a difference in a large and important sector of the economy, and working with my awesome colleagues!