Editor’s note: We’ll finish running all Rising Stars Class of 2021 profiles over the next week. Today, we profile Devin Lacey.
As a commerce student at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Devin Lacey spent three co-op placements at ExxonMobil Corp. in both operations and development.
“Getting that perspective and that opportunity is what led me into the oil and gas sector and it was really something I was attracted to right away,” says the senior business analyst at engineering consultant GLJ Ltd.
“It was just really interesting to see the sort of impact that the energy sector has on society and economies in our everyday life and to me that translates into meaningful work and some really complex and interesting challenges.”
Lacey, 30, chose to work as a contractor after he graduated, working on a variety of projects, including the large-scale power transmission network for Nalcor Energy’s Lower Churchill hydroelectric project and the Terra Nova Life Extension drilling program for Suncor Energy Inc.
On the recommendation of his Suncor contacts, he enrolled in an MBA program at the University of Calgary to gain access to different opportunities.
In a consulting course within the program that matches students with employers, Lacey worked with GLJ on its business development strategy to diversify into two new growth areas — beyond traditional oil and gas and beyond Canada.
“Devin has been a key player in advancing our corporate strategy in both these areas,” said Caralyn Bennett, GLJ’s executive vice-president and chief strategy officer, in nominating him as a Rising Star.
“I saw what was going on here at GLJ, how focused they were with diversifying and being leaders in the energy transition and in supporting their clients with new challenges and opportunities,” says Lacey. “I felt like I was at the right place at the right time with regards to gaining early-stage experience in solving energy transition challenges.”
He officially joined GLJ full-time in August 2020. His role is often a balance between business development and project execution. On the business development side, Lacey is working with the BD and executive teams to develop and implement the company’s growth and diversification strategy.
“It really focuses on applying our 50 years of experience as leading technical reserves evaluators and a technical engineering and geosciences firm,” he says. “We are transitioning that background into providing technical solutions for a global client base that faces new challenges with navigating a more dynamic and transitioning industry.”
Lacey says he “really, really enjoys” the research process and the opportunity to apply his finance background within much of the project work he delivers on behalf of GLJ. Most of the projects he is involved with include economic modelling, financial analysis, ESG (environmental, social and governance) and technical reports.
Working in the industry, especially at GLJ, also has provided the opportunity to learn about the engineering and geology. “My learning has come a long way over the last five years because it just has to,” he says. “If you’re really going to understand where things are going strategically and be able to follow along, you’ve got to really understand the engineering and geology behind it because that’s what drives it.”
The area of highest growth over the past year or so for GLJ has come from areas where they have found a natural fit with their core strength in technical subsurface evaluation and independent disclosure. Leading growth areas include carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, geothermal, data analytics, machine learning, and ESG reporting and sustainability strategies, according to Lacey.
“I think ESG is an evolving space and that’s what we tell our clients,” he says. However, Lacey is hopeful there soon will be consistent global standards in place and it’s something the company is watching carefully. GLJ, he notes, has an internal team whose members are certified in two sets of reporting standards.
As for all the talk about an energy transition, “I always like to kind of take a step back and remind myself that it’s not just a buzzword but a large-scale structural change in energy systems,” he says. “It’s real projects that need to be developed, real assets need to be developed [and] systems that need to be altered, all while also maintaining social and economic well-being.”
Five years from now, Lacey sees himself continuing to navigate the energy transition although he can’t say in what position. “As long as I’m still solving problems that advance the energy sector toward a more sustainable and prosperous future, then I’m happy.”
He also believes that by 2030 the technologies, projects and strategies focused on decarbonization and sustainability that today are in the early stages of evaluation will be starting to be deployed at scale. “It’ll be interesting come 2030 to see the early impact that these really innovative technologies could have.”
Lacey says he often questions the current global projections, whether for Canada or other countries, on reaching 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. “I think that the reality is [that] we’re still working towards deploying the more innovative and impactful technologies that will advance that quicker than what we’re advancing to now.”
Rising Stars: Sponsors
Fluor has provided engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and project management services to Canada’s energy industry for 72 years. Its 43,000 employees globally (and 3,000+ across Canada) deliver comprehensive services — from conceptual design through to commissioning and maintenance — for all types and sizes of facilities. Fluor applies its broad expertise, extensive experience, and proven technology to benefit Canada’s energy transition in areas such as liquefied natural gas, carbon capture, hydrogen, renewable fuels, small modular reactors, and minerals mining. Fluor is committed to positively contributing to Canada’s energy tomorrow by focusing on safe and sustainable solutions today. This commitment includes focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure opportunities represent the diversity of Canada’s population and support reconciliation, partnerships, and benefit-sharing with Indigenous peoples.
geoLOGIC systems ltd.
geoLOGIC systems ltd. is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and has been providing high-quality, integrated data and analytics to the upstream oil and gas industry in Western Canada and elsewhere for almost 40 years. geoLOGIC’s relentless focus on innovation, quality, and service has made it the trusted standard in the upstream Canadian industry. Customers include exploration and production companies in oil & gas and related products; pipeline and midstream companies; service companies; the financial sector government and regulatory organizations, and educational institutions. Key products include geoSCOUT, a decision-support tool providing high quality data and analytics for all disciplines within the oil and gas industry, and gDC, geoLOGIC’s comprehensive upstream oil and gas database.