- Role Model -

Denise Hodder


Name: Denise Hodder

Occupation: Geologist

Employer: ExxonMobil Canada

Education: BSc (Hon) from Memorial University and a PhD from University of Calgary


Current community of residency: 

Denise Hodder

What does your typical work day involve?

My day will vary depending on what is happening at the time. If we are drilling a well, a whole team of geoscientists are working together to make sure we get the right interpretation of the new well data and to make the right improvements as we drill. Sometimes, there is a specific problem to solve and that involves collecting the data, interpreting and analyzing it and trying to find the appropriate solutions. That can be more solo type work.

What do you love most about your profession? Why did you choose this career?

I love that the job is different every day. I love that I have the freedom to work on the things that interest me. I love that geology integrates so many of the other sciences and that even when I am not working, I can still enjoy the geology around me. I chose geology because I met a geologist when I was very little and I thought it was exciting.

When did you realize you wanted to work in STEM?

I feel like I have wanted to be a scientist forever. That one encounter with a geologist as a child pretty much sealed it for me. I enjoy the sciences and I love working out puzzles and it really seemed to be the right fit.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

My favourite subjects were geography, chemistry and biology. I did really well in math but it was actually not my favourite. I also liked English Literature. I think there is something really interesting about how people tell stories. And the other course that I really like, Industrial Arts! I enjoyed the process of building something and I really enjoyed learning how to draft plans.

What advice would you give girls, who are still in school, who might be considering a career like yours?

I think it is important to keep your options open. Make sure you do an appropriate mix of courses in high school that allows you to go to university or trade school or wherever you would like. When you are in high school, you don’t have to have all the answers but if you give yourself the widest range of options, you will figure it out. And participate! Join a sports team or the student council or some other group.

Why do we need more women in skilled trades and STEM?

I don’t believe that there should be careers for boys and careers for girls. It should just be you, doing what you love to do, and that should be enough.

Who was your role model? What about this person inspires you?

I have had so many role models over the years. In high school, there were teachers who inspired me and then professors in university. I found inspiration in my fellow students and now in my co-workers. My dad was a pipefitter and he loved his job. He would come home from work when I was little with stories of how his day went and you could hear in his voice the enjoyment he got from that work.

What do you do for fun? What are some of your hobbies/activities?

I love quilting and sewing. It is so much fun watching something take shape from scraps of material. I love spending time with my niece and nephew. I am quite proud of my house and I enjoy doing the little things that make it look or function better.

What superhero do you relate to most? Why?

I don’t have a favourite superhero. While I enjoy superhero movies, I think they are based on people with extraordinary powers. What amazes me more are the people who, despite obstacles, step up to the challenge. Standing up for what you believe in or for those who cannot stand up for themselves doesn’t require a super power but requires an inner courage that is more impressive than any super power.

Anything else you wish to share?

One piece of advice I received very early in my career: “If you do something you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life.”


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