When Eddie Rollinson began his career as a chemical engineer in South Africa, he likely didn’t foresee one day living in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Eddie joined Syncrude on February 1, 2019 as our new Vice President of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE). He brings with him years of experience in the industry in areas such as technical, operations, HSE, and projects.
Eddie’s journey into this role all starts on the other side of the world where he studied for his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of Natal.
“I always had a keen interest in science and math, which made it a natural fit for me to study engineering,” says Eddie. “I also was exposed to the occupation from a young age since I lived in a small industrial pulp and paper town. My father’s friend inspired me to pursue chemical engineering in particular.”
While in university, Eddie received a scholarship from a petrochemicals company called Sasol Limited, which included an opportunity to work for the company.
He was able to put his technical skills to use and learned about a number of products and processes during his seven years working at Sasol.
In 2001, the opportunity to move to Canada presented itself. Suncor Energy was recruiting in South Africa for the start-up of their Upgrader #2.
We always wanted to visit Canada and saw the opportunity as a new adventure.
“My wife Colleen was six months pregnant at the time, so it was also a great time to create a new life for us. Arriving in Fort McMurray, even the minus 20 degree weather was an exciting new experience for us. We learned to adapt pretty quick.”
For eight years Eddie and his family enjoyed living in Fort McMurray and experiencing outdoor activities such as trail walking and biking in the Birchwood Trails and kayaking and canoeing the lakes and rivers in the region. He was relocated to Suncor’s Calgary office in 2009.
“I learned how to ski in Fort McMurray at Vista Ridge with my daughter when she was just five years old. It’s given us something to really bond over,” recalls Eddie.
During his time at Suncor, Eddie held a number of roles including General Manager, In-Situ Project Development and Major Projects Integration, and Director of Operations, Upgrading.
In 2012, he joined BP Canada to lead HSE, Regulatory and Engineering teams for BP Canada’s operated and Joint Venture businesses as Vice President of Safety and Operational Risk. He was later promoted to Vice President of Production and HSE.
Safety remained a common thread throughout the various roles held throughout his career. Now, Eddie starts his role at Syncrude and plans to use his experience to help influence behaviours.
I was drawn to Syncrude’s strong safety culture and company values which are aligned with my own. I believe it’s a fundamental right to come to work and go home safe – that Nobody Gets Hurt. I won’t be satisfied to accept anything less.
“Syncrude also has a collaborative workforce, lots of good systems and structure, discipline, and pride in the company. I especially admire the sense of family here. When people care about one another, it personalizes safety and helps impact behaviours for a safer workplace.”
Eddie looks forward to participating in the United Way campaign and enjoying time with his family once they finalize their move to the region.
“Fort McMurray is a great place to raise a family. I grew up in a smaller community and love the personal connection and sense of community it brings. This town is where I made friends from across Canada, and created new experiences with my family.”