Labors of Love

Heather Man­i­towich gives new mean­ing to the term ‘work-life bal­ance,’ putting her project man­age­ment skills to work rais­ing money for can­cer re­search

Alberta Oil - - NEW ENERGY - – By Wil­low White

HEATHER MAN­I­TOWICH IS AS AN IN­TE­GRA­TION PROJECT man­ager at Sun­cor, fo­cus­ing on the Fort Hills oil sands project, an open-pit mine now un­der con­struc­tion north of Fort McMur­ray. The project is ex­pected to yield 180,000 bar­rels of bi­tu­men per day and it’s Man­i­towich’s job to make sure all the ma­te­ri­als that sup­ply Fort Hills ar­rive on time and in the right place.

Need­less to say, with pro­duc­tion ex­pected to start as early as next year, she’s been busy. “The goal of our team is to en­sure that all of our as­sets ar­rive on time to meet Fort Hills pro­duc­tion,” Man­i­towich says. “So my job is al­ways chang­ing; try­ing to an­tic­i­pate the needs of the project and the group.” But the vary­ing na­ture of the job doesn’t slow her down. Rather, she em­braces the chal­lenges and ob­sta­cles with a cool head and solid or­ga­ni­za­tion. “I love how it’s al­ways look­ing at dif­fer­ent is­sues, try­ing to keep the big is­sues in mind. You need to re­ally fo­cus on the needs of the project and keep your head up and say, ‘What’s best for Fort Hills? What’s best for Sun­cor?’ I get ex­posed to all dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the busi­ness.”

But Man­i­towich’s lead­er­ship role doesn’t end when she leaves the of­fice. For the past year, she has used her pas­sion for project man­age­ment to or­ga­nize a mas­sive fundraiser for can­cer re­search in honor of her mother, Moira Hoogveld, who was di­ag­nosed with can­cer in 2013. The night be­fore she passed away, Man­i­towich’s young son told her, “The sky painters paint the rain­bows for the sick peo­ple like Grandma.” In­spired by those words, Man­i­towich and her sis­ters de­cided to raise money for can­cer re­search through a project they called the Sky Painters. The sis­ters in­ter­viewed 56 peo­ple whose lives have been im­pacted by can­cer and cre­ated paint­ings based on their ex­pe­ri­ences. On June 8, a gala was held to auc­tion off the paint­ings with all money raised go­ing to the Leukemia & Lym­phoma So­ci­ety of Canada to fund can­cer re­search, ad­vo­cacy and ed­u­ca­tion—over $100,000 was raised.

Though Man­i­towich left the art­work to her sis­ters who are pro­fes­sional artists, she be­came the key or­ga­nizer be­hind the project. “With her ex­pe­ri­ence as a project man­ager, she brought all the lit­tle pieces to­gether that we, as artists, prob­a­bly wouldn’t have thought of,” says Michelle Hoogveld, one of Man­i­towich’s sis­ters. “There’s been bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the dif­fer­ent ven­dors and peo­ple spon­sor­ing us, as well as the event plan­ning. Ev­ery­thing [from] A-to-Z, she’s taken care of.” Man­i­towich was even able to se­cure a do­na­tion from Sun­cor through a vol­un­teer grant.

Like her con­tri­bu­tions to Fort Hills, Man­i­towich’s skills as a project man­ager are in­valu­able to mak­ing the Sky Painters such a suc­cess. “It’s a lot of co­or­di­nat­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion,” she says. “There are a lot of things about this project that are sim­i­lar to things I do at work.” While the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind the project was to honor her mother and share the sto­ries of those im­pacted by can­cer, Man­i­towich also points out that she’s been able learn new skills from the ex­pe­ri­ence. “It’s al­lowed me to de­velop as a leader as I work with dif­fer­ent peo­ple.”

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