Tracy Walden is the Director of Media and Communications at the Canadian Wind and Energy Association (CanWEA). Graduating from university with a Bachelor of Education, Tracy began her career as a teacher and transitioned to training, communications and marketing in a corporate environment before discovering the rewards of working for industry associations. As an educator and effective communicator, she is passionate about making a direct impact addressing climate change in her role as an advocate for clean, affordable renewable wind energy.
Every Experience Prepares You for What Comes Next
Communicating and reaching out to others have always been a part of Tracy’s career. Beginning as a teacher on Canada’s east coast, she remembers teaching her students about global warming and climate change. She segued from her school teaching career into corporate training with investment professionals on the tech tools available to them at Merrill Lynch branches across the country. There, she became fascinated with Merrill’s powerful global brand and gained first-hand experience with effective brand positioning, communications and marketing.
Getting introduced to the energy sector while living in Calgary, she made the jump from training to communications and marketing with Superior Propane – the leading Canadian propane brand with their familiar yellow trucks. She then transitioned from being a member to serving members with her move to Canada’s propane industry association, where she believed in their mission of expanding the use of a cleaner alternative for vehicle fleets and for rural and remote energy needs. She also fondly remembers being compared to the television character Hank Hill, ‘the king of propane’ because of her annoying knack for propane trivia.
A Climate Eureka Moment
She then moved to the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) and changed gears to advocating for the modernization of Canada’s electricity grid to handle the challenges of achieving a low carbon energy future. It was here where she read all of the IPCC reports and had her ‘eureka’ moment about the urgency for climate action and knew that she needed to be part of the solution.
When Tracy reflects on her experience, she says that every job was her favorite at the time and that is still true today. Now that her days are dedicated to advocating for non-emitting wind energy at CanWEA, she’s super motivated to help the organization and the industry be successful. And that requires attracting more women to the sector!
CanWEA’s Vision for Wind Energy in Canada
CanWEA (www.canwea.ca) is the voice of the wind industry in Canada and its members are wind energy organizations involved in the development and application of wind energy technology, products and services.
At CanWEA, Tracy leads a team of communications professionals to provide a full suite of communications services to the organization on behalf of members and in pursuit of CanWEA’s goals.
While Tracy is based in CanWEA’s headquarters, Ottawa, the organization has employees working across Canada including in Montreal, Toronto, Windsor and Calgary. Their communications shop relies on multiple platforms and channels including social media, websites, traditional media, blogs, digital advertising, and lots of content in many formats for a variety of audiences. The team is always striving to grow reach and engagement metrics and providing professional communications support for the organization’s events, conferences, research and regional and federal advocacy work. Tracy’s team is regularly releasing new material and campaigns about wind energy, and she was especially excited about the release of the recent Wind Energy Vision for Canada (www.canwea.ca/vision).
One thing she says she would like to explore next is podcast media. As a first step she is checking out podcasts on just about everything to see what’s cool, what works and why – and she encourages anyone who knows of a good one to inform her! Podcasting is a great way for her to keep learning in those stolen minutes in the car, on her bike, while walking or at the gym. Looking ahead it would be nice to create wind energy podcasts that allow others to learn about renewable technologies when they too are stealing a few minutes to get inspired.
Learning is a starting point not a stopping point
When asked about what advice Tracy had to encourage more women to join the clean energy workforce, she says to just go for it! The industry needs more women and there is a place for a broad range of skills. If you think the learning curve is steep, don’t worry about it! Every job has new and exciting things to learn – don’t let that stop or distract you from pursuing your passion or joining an industry that offers many rewards. It is certainly very encouraging that CanWEA’s career webpage is always on the top ten list for hits on the website.
Tracy encourages women to get involved in the clean energy industry, and for those already working in the industry, to make time to help others along the way. She mentions that through her previous experiences, she was lucky to have mentors that provided guidance and support. She found this support helpful and inspiring and now is paying it forward. She takes the time to mentor others, even if it is a conversation over coffee or a phone call to encourage a female colleague to apply for that job, chair that committee, sit on that panel, accept that special project. She believes that with more women in the field, greater diversity will bring with it more effective decision making and more successful work environments that allow problems to be solved – and clean energy to thrive.