BY NATTALIA LEA, P.ENG.
When she was a little girl, Carol Moen, P.Eng., didn't think
twice about standing up at Brownies to ask if she could wear
pants instead of a skirt. Even though the answers to her authority-challenging
questions weren't always to her liking, Ms. Moen continued
to be outspoken and outstanding.
It's no surprise, then, that at 39 she has advanced to management.
Based in Fort Saskatchewan, Ms. Moen is the production leader
for the energy systems and environmental operations plants
with Dow Western Canada Operations.
And now she's brought her skills and independent attitude
to her professional association, too. Last June Ms. Moen joined
the APEGGA Board of Examiners Executive Committee as a mechanical
engineering experience examiner.
Surrounded by supportive superiors, mentors and a loving,
close-knit family, Ms. Moen is positioned to continue climbing
corporate rungs. From where she stands, there's no glass ceiling.
"I tell women to have fun. Back off a bit. Don't sweat
the small stuff. Try not to get wrapped up in being a female
engineer, just be the best engineer you can be," she
says. "I want to be respected for what I can do within
my profession, not for being a woman in my profession."
Red Deer Memories
The youngest daughter of a businessman and his homemaker wife,
Ms. Moen and her siblings grew up in Red Deer. She has fond
memories of summers at the family's Pine Lake cabin, and,
as a teenager, of working as a playground supervisor for the
City of Red Deer.
A Lego vehicle set was one of her favourite childhood toys,
but law and education were her initial career choices. Ms.
Moen shifted her sights during a Grade 12 career day, however,
when she heard an engineer speak about his work.
Independent as always, she decided not to follow the path
of her older sister, a dancer, or her older brother, a civil
After graduating with first-class high school marks, Ms. Moen
attended the University of Alberta. Chemical engineering attracted
a lot of women, but she opted for mechanical, graduating in
1987 as one of five women in her class.
"I really believe that I've got some male genes in me.
I'm not very good at chit-chat and I love sitting down in
front of a good hockey game," she quips. University was
an enjoyable time, she says. "By the time I left university,
I felt I'd graduated with a bunch of brothers."
The U of A co-op program provided Ms. Moen with excellent
hands-on experience, first at the NOVA plant in Joffre, next
at Syncrude Canada in Fort McMurray, and then in the office
of Petro-Canada in Calgary.
"I TELL WOMEN TO HAVE FUN. BACK OFF
A BIT. DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. TRY NOT TOO GET WRAPPED
UP IN BEING A FEMALE ENGINEER, JUST BE THE BEST ENGINEER YOU
CAN BE. I WANT TO BE RESPECTED FOR WHAT I CAN DO WITHIN MY
PROFESSION, NOT FOR BEING A WOMAN IN MY PROFESSION."
CAROL MOEN, P.ENG.
The Dow Tattoo
She joined Dow in 1987 as a project engineer and hasn't looked
back. "I get teased that I have the Dow diamond tattooed
on my forehead."
Assignments at Dow have been varied and challenging, allowing
Ms. Moen to progress in her career and make a smooth transition
from engineer to manager. Husband Jim Moen, P.Eng., also works
for Dow, as a senior materials engineering specialist.
The couple have two children, Nicholas, 9, and Christopher,
6. Ms. Moen credits her supportive husband, as well as an
outstanding caregiver who assists them with their children,
for helping her successfully balance a career and a family
life. Carol took time off with each of her kids after they
were born, and so did her husband, taking advantage of Dow's
paternal leave program.
Motherhood has been good for a self-confessed control-freak.
"You can't be controlling with kids. That was a huge
stretch for me, being the one who was controlled. My kids
have smoothed the rough edges."
Cal Towns, P.Eng., global sustainability manager for chlor-alkali
assets at Dow Chemical, has worked with Ms. Moen since 1989.
"Most of us go through cycles where we work too hard
and find ourselves putting our careers first and family second.
Carol has the ability to keep the family in the forefront."
Not that her career has suffered. Ms. Moen has shuttled and
advanced her Dow career from project management to maintenance,
into construction services, production supervision and plant
commissioning. Her position before her current one had her
spending a quarter of her time working around the world at
different Dow Chemical operations in the U.S., Europe and
But now her overseas adventures have wound down and she's
thrilled to sit down to home-cooked dinners and tuck the children
in at bedtime.
Other children have a place in Ms. Moen's life, too, and that's
something Pattie Danos, a Fort Saskatchewan communications
consultant, knows all about. She's worked with Ms. Moen since
1993 on a Dow Chemical Company initiative to improve the scientific
literacy of students. The program is called Partners for Science.
"Carol was chosen to lead because of her reputation as
a scientist, her passion for education, her ability to engage
people, and her exemplary analytical and organizational skills,"
recalls Ms. Danos.
Award-Winning Science Program
Partners for Science has now evolved into an effective partnership
with both the public and Catholic school boards in Elk Island,
and it's having a positive impact on science education. Children
in the district are, in fact, performing well above provincial
In 2000 the Alberta School Boards Association recognized Dow
with an award for its support of the hands-on/minds-on science
program, and the company was also nominated for the Alberta
Due to the program's success, Dow has supported Ms. Moen with
plans to expand the program from elementary into junior high
schools in the Elk Island area.
Ms. Danos is not surprised. "Carol sets very high working
standards for herself and has high expectations of the people
she leads as well," she says. "Carol ensures the
right people are on the team and that everyone understands
their role, relative to the project's objectives. She leads
by example and works well with people."
Adds Mr. Towns: "Carol has incredible organizational
skills, taking apart complex issues and dissecting them into
pieces that different people can work on. Combine that with
her people skills, and she gets people wanting to work hard
While living her life on a critical path, Ms. Moen does squeeze
in private piano lessons and spends evenings and weekends
with her children. With an infectious laugh, she notes that
life couldn't be much rosier.
Is there a secret to her success? "I think everybody
walks out of university with the same tool box. The things
that will differentiate you are how you apply innate problem-solving
skills, how you communicate, and your drive to figure things
out and dazzle people."
Dazzling people, it would seem, is something Ms. Moen is very
"CAROL SETS VERY HIGH WORKING STANDARDS
FOR HERSELF AND HAS HIGH EXPECTATIONS OF THE PEOPLE SHE LEADS
AS WELL. SHE ENSURES THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE ON THE TEAM AND
THAT EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THEIR ROLE, RELATIVE TO THE PROJECT'S
OBJECTIVES. SHE LEADS BY EXAMPLE AND WORKS WELL WITH PEOPLE."