Natalie Pecile…Making the world a better place

By Danila Di Croce

Photo by Giulio Muratori

Photo by Giulio Muratori

When Natalie Pecile decided to study science throughout high school, she was planning to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an engineer. However, that all changed when she realized that her extroverted personality was far better suited for the business world. 

Her decision was definitely the right one as this recent alumnus of York University’s Schulich School of Business has flourished with the opportunities her program provided her. At 21, this native of Toronto has already garnered a pretty impressive résumé. She spent a semester abroad in Bangkok, Thailand, developed a literacy program at her old elementary school, competed in Dubai for the Hult Prize, held the title of VP of Operations of Schulich’s Undergraduate Business Society, and she was just recently hired for a full-time position with the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program. “I’ve always been interested in how to apply myself to benefit society,” she says. “Originally, I specialized in accounting and the non-profit business sector; however, I then switched to focus on marketing and entrepreneurship.”

That switch is what led her to Dubai. In her fourth year at Schulich, Pecile directed her focus on social entrepreneurship and social business. This resulted in her, along with three of her classmates, entering a local competition organized by the Hult Prize Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to launching the world’s next wave of social entrepreneurs. The competition invites students to develop new ideas for sustainable start-up enterprises that will help to solve the planet’s biggest challenges. Although Pecile and her team did not win, she points out that the experience was definitely worthwhile. “It was very empowering; it allowed me to use everything I had learned at school up until that point and apply it to a global challenge that I am really passionate about. It helped me to look at our issues with new perspectives and taught me to be more flexible and open to change, which I think will be very helpful moving forward.”

Pecile’s experience in Bangkok, Thailand, also left her with a positive impression. “Meeting people, discussing career options with them, and observing individuals who were pursing entrepreneurship was a great career influence.”

 Nowadays, Pecile is focusing on her new position at the Tim Hortons Leadership Development Program, which allows individuals to train in different areas of the business before deciding on which sector to commit to. “I am excited about the program as it gives me the opportunity to try out new things; most especially to experience marketing in ‘the real world,’ outside of school.”

When she isn’t busy trying out new ventures in the business world, Pecile occupies her time with organizing and overseeing events at York University. She also devotes time to the arts. As a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Pecile enjoys playing the piano. When asked how she balances it all, Pecile credits her family for their support. “My parents have always let me make my decisions freely. They have always been supportive and helpful with their advice.”

She also credits her strong family ties for helping shape the person she has become. “We are close; for each special occasion we all gather at my grandparents’ house, and I really appreciate that because I know that not everyone has that.” She acknowledges both sets of grandparents, who hail from the Friuli and Lazio regions of Italy, for helping keep her connected to her Italian roots. “A lot of my Italian influence comes from food and speaking the language. Initially I learned Italian was I was little, and then I switched to English. My grandparents have always shown us traditions such as making sausages, wine and pasta sauce.”

In regards to continuing traditions, Pecile explains, “I definitely want to put more time into the Italian culture and concentrate on it more. I would love to improve in my speaking and continue the language with future generations of my family.”

When asked where she sees herself in the near future, Pecile says, “I want to learn everything about the business and hopefully one day become a successful entrepreneur. Having all parts of your life balanced and working hard at something, while improving the lives of others – that would be ideal.”

Reprinted with permission from Panoram Italia    


Giving Power to the Next Generation: Andrew’s Story

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Andrew “Dinger” Bell of Chesley, Ontario is a High Voltage Lineman for Hydro One Construction Services. He is also a member of the Canadian Union of Skilled Workers. “Our job is to maintain, and erect new transmission lines for Hydro One within the province of Ontario. The job involves climbing towers and hydro poles, working out of bucket trucks and man baskets attached to cranes, and the operation of wheeled and tracked heavy equipment. We have a very large selection of tools, rigging, hardware, and devices--most of which have been specially designed to our trade. Rope is one of our main tools, for fastening, climbing, hoisting, tool augmentations, etc. ” Andrew explained. The chain hoists that Andrew works with can lift anywhere from ¾ of a ton to 6 tons.

“We have specially designed ladders and working platforms for reaching the wire off the tower. The job involves a lot of training, which is constant, and safety is paramount. Working in an electrical atmosphere is very hazardous and limits of approach for men and equipment must be maintained, while performing approved work practises” he continued. “To become a powerline technician you must complete an 8000 hour apprenticeship [with a] minimum of grade 12 math and English to apply.”

Andrew admits that he initially “had no intentions of following this path”. As he puts it, “I didn’t even know anything about it….” From 2004 to 2006, Bell attended Durham College in Oshawa, Ontario where he was enrolled in Law and Security Administration. From there, he planned to join the army as a police officer, or to “get a security job at Bruce Power”. However, he was offered a job at Hydro One after college and he “never looked back”.

What Andrew loves most about his job has changed over the years. In the beginning, it was about seeing places beyond his hometown, but as time went on, Andrew came to know and love the experiences he’s had with his co-workers, including the newest members of the team. Today, Andrew acts as a mentor for those who are completing their apprenticeships:

“What I loved about my job at first when I started back in 2007 was the travel. I got to see a lot of Ontario and meet a lot of great people along the way. The brotherhood that you become a part of is pretty special. Every co-worker has their own story and family that they’re away from. Once I went north, I just loved working outdoors. Being in the bush in the middle of nowhere in northwest Ontario is very liberating. Now the part I love most is training the new apprentices and being a mentor to the younger generation.”

Now that Andrew Bell has had several years of experience both on his own and while training others, he is able to offer the following advice: “… Be prepared to test your limits, especially working at heights and in the elements, both good and bad. … It can get very windy and very cold in the winter [and] also very hot in the summer, due to no shade. Be able to travel and be away for long periods of time, have a good work ethic and some common sense, and most of all, be eager to learn.”

For a student of history, it doesn’t get much better….

By Marcus Kaulback

So you think you can dance? No, me neither. And so I’m not a dancer. Instead, I have the privilege to call myself a historian.

I got a job four months ago with a research management company in Ottawa. Clients come to us for a slew of reasons, but most of our work includes providing specialized research services, whether for litigation support, community development, or a person’s simple interest in the past. But whatever the reason, we’re the background workers giving our clients the information they need to succeed in their projects. We try to make hindsight even clearer than 20/20.

But enough tooting the company horn…

I’m working now on something called the Unexploded Explosive Ordnance and Legacy Sites Program (we’ll just call it the UXO Project) which is an attempt by the Department of National Defence to clean up all their old military sites, especially as urban centres grow and encroach more and more on previously out-of-the-way training sites. My job is to research the military activity of past DND sites across Canada to help determine the probability of there being unexploded ordnance still in the ground at these places.

My boss, the senior researcher, sends me lists of files that contain information on a specific site. I spend my days, then, after I’ve ordered these files from Library and Archives Canada (big Soviet-style building in downtown Ottawa with itty-bitty windows), sifting through them looking for any and all mention of live firing having taken place there. I’m looking at primary sources, things like Inspection Reports of camps and armouries, War Diaries of specific units, and even personal letters of the soldiers themselves. For a student of history, it doesn’t get much better.

Once we’ve fully looked at a site, we write reports on them and submit those to DND, which help them in turn determine whether or not there’s a point to actually going down to these places and surveying the land to find these bad things that might still lurk under it.

It’s a quiet gig, solitary too, but it satisfies my passion for the past. And really, how many jobs would do that? Like I said, I studied history in university, more specifically military history, so this job ticks a big box. I get paid to handle real-deal documents that speak to our country’s military past, and by doing it contribute to tidying up the sites that played such a huge role in that past, and I’m happy and lucky to do it.

As you can imagine though, I didn’t come roaring out of uni and into the interview. As most of us 21st-century job seekers know, there is rarely such a thing as a conventional path to employment anymore. No longer do we decide in childhood what we want to be, pursue it at some type of finishing school, and get the job right after graduation. As for me, I skipped town after I graduated, went to Asia where I spent nine months slumming around Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, India, and Nepal before landing in Busan, South Korea to teach kindergarteners the Queen’s English for a year. From Korea, not eager to get back home, my girlfriend and I took the long way ’round, travelling overland to England, five of those seven months spent in a 1981 VW campervan crisscrossing Europe.

I got home to Canada, moved to Vancouver, and continued my slumming. I took a few courses, among them editing, worked a few jobs, among them editorial assistant for a couple of magazines, but moved back to Ottawa after three years of overall professional nonfulfillment. Then the scramble for a job really ramped up. Kid on the way, bills to pay, no job to light the way. Six months came and went with no meaningful work, so I went to an alumni function – something I had never done – at the behest of my mum, “to network”, she said. It was here that I met my future boss.

I don’t have a lesson for anyone on how to go about gaining work. I don’t know the answers, obviously. But I guess that’s the point of WorkStory, to share our “journey to the job” and let all of you know that the whole point, when you’re down and nearly out, is to just keep chugging and plugging away. Hell, I’ve emptied ashtrays at a bowling alley and cut grass at a cemetery, but you just keep going. It took me almost seven years to find something worth it, but that’s just it…it was worth it.

For more about Marcus

"Joshua Camacho Works with the Fishes"

By Vanessa Grillone, WorkStory Contributor
I have a big family, which makes room for many different people going after various different careers. My cousin Joshua Camacho is a year older than myself and has the most interesting job I’ve ever heard of. By title he’s a commercial diver and even though I tell people he’s an Underwater Welder, welding is just one of many things that he does underwater. On any given day he could be does an inspections, construction, welding/cutting, salvage or even cleaning intakes. He’s even recently worked for an aquaculture company farming salmon.What I find so interesting about this job is that it’s ALL UNDERWATER! How the heck does someone get into a job like this one? 

Well, in high school Josh enjoyed his manufacturing class, especially welding and working with tools to make things or take things apart. He assumed that welding was a trade and that he could make decent money. He later heard of underwater welding and thought that was the coolest thing ever and went for it. After high school he went to Seneca college in King City, Ontario. They  offer the Underwater Skills program, which is two semesters from September to June. Diving Physics, Diving Physiology, Welding (dry and underwater), and Small Engines were just some of the classes he took. They even had the opportunity to do some practical projects underwater in the lake on campus, and some deeper dives off of boats and barges in lakes Simcoe and Huron.

“We received a college diploma so we had to do the compulsory english and computer courses or whatever else buy my favourite part of the course was probably going up to Wiarton and setting up our work barge using cranes and winches. We used hot water suits and a decompression chamber during the work day along with pumps and generators that power everything. I received my unrestricted surface supplied air diver and restricted commercial diver certificates surface supplied air comes from large cylinders filled by approved compressors. You breathe this air with the help of diving helmets such as the kirby morgan and S.C.U.B.A. you carry all of your air cylinders on your body.” 

Within the last few years, Josh’s job has allowed him to travel for work, mostly within Canada. He loves that my job allows me to travel within the province, country, or world depending on what he wants to do, “I can stay inshore diving for commercial diving companies or go offshore and work for oil or drilling companies. Every day is different. It keeps life interesting. This week will be a diving operation in the spent fuel bays of a nuclear power plant, next week could be setting up fish farms in the Caribbean sea”. But traveling is the bitter-sweet part of the job.  It can be a curse or a gift. Josh, a laid back and hardworking individual, just goes with the flow. He figures that NOW is the best time for him to travel, he’s twenty-five and doesn’t have that many responsibilities, plus, he knows that it’s part of the job. 

Josh admits that the toughest thing about his career is having a girlfriend and just relationships in general outside of work. He’s constantly back and forth between jobs in Ontario, from Niagara to Windsor to Manitoulin Island, or out to Newfoundland for a month or more at a time. It takes a good deal of effort to try to plan anything and to stay in touch with friends and family.

Although it was difficult to get constant work at the beginning now, Josh is self-employed and has a number of contractors he can call for work. The industry does have some slow periods through the year here in Ontario so you have to plan around that. Thankfully he’s in a good position as far as being comfortable goes but would like to work offshore on a oil rig or station of some sort just to experience it.  

Joshua’s advice to anyone interested in being a Commercial Diver: 
I love what I do and you HAVE to love this kind of job. There are many things that you can do with a commercial diving ticket. Most commercial diving isn’t glamourous work, often you’ll find yourself in tight pipes, contaminated water, uncomfortable working conditions, but if you love the job and the traveling it isn’t so bad. You will have to work hard and if you are not willing to drop everything to go work then things will be even harder. Welding or another trade would be a great reliable alternative."

Capturing Moments of Beauty

By Vanessa Grillone, WorkStory Contributor

Two cousins who didn’t have a lot in common sat together at a family function. Magically, a deep conversation began where they discussed their wildest dreams and greatest ambitions. By the end of the evening they promised each other that they WOULD reach their goals. Amy Miranda, my cousin, kept her promise. She is currently a Photographer and Assistant Manager at a high-end studio where she shoots everything from children and families to pets and fashion. Besides her studio work she has done small events, landscapes, and fashion shoots for promotional use.

Amy realized her love for capturing moments on film when she received her first camera as a present. She took pictures of everything, however at that time it was still film so she was limited. Years later her dad purchased a digital camera and she remembers being the only one to use it and being overjoyed by the freedom of taking as many pictures as she could fit on a memory card.

With her passion for photography peeking it’s head, Amy took a photography class in high school and loved it. She enjoyed learning about the history of photography and how it evolved to the craft it is today. With her interest heightened Amy, decided to go to Sheridan College for their two-year photography program, where she received a diploma. “It was an amazing program, very hands-on and very detailed. We had classes everyday and when we weren’t in class we were doing assignments in the studio or in the lab. My favourite class would have to be portraiture. I love interacting with people, making them feel comfortable and using my skill, creativity, and knowledge of lighting to capture their beauty in one photograph. The thing that I love the most about photography is making people feel good. Especially women, we are so hard on ourselves and never feel beautiful enough. To see women look at their photos and realize how beautiful they actually are and then watch them walk off with more confidence than they had walking in with is definitely a rewarding part of the job.” After receiving her diploma, Amy travelled to Argentina, taking photos and emerging herself in a different culture. Upon return, she went after her dream in full force, applying to various jobs and eventually landing at the studio she currently works.

Amy’s passion for photos gets her through her day, which she ensures is never a dull moment. Eventually she hopes to have her own studio and be her own boss. But Amy is focussed on the now, she is a firm believer in living in the moment and to enjoying life. She believes in doing what you love and paying attention to all of the beauty that life has to offer. Her advice for aspiring photographers is simple: “Don’t ever give up, push forward, and be as creative as you can. Be different. Try new things, take criticism, and always improve. People will always think that they can do what you do and that being a photographer consists of having an expensive camera, prove them wrong. Prove to them that it’s so much more than that!”