Programming, fine-tuning and going with the flow

Enbridge's Career Pioneers series: Part 6, Pearl Gillespie

Pearl Gillespie, PLC Programmer, Minot, North Dakota

A celebration of achievement. A promise of untapped potential. An ongoing quest for equality.

International Women’s Day, fast approaching on March 8, is all of these things and more. “The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all,” says United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In honor of UN International Women’s Day, we’re profiling women in the Enbridge workforce who’ve chosen to pursue non-traditional careers. Today’s spotlight is on Pearl Gillespie, a programmable logic controller (PLC) programmer based in Minot, North Dakota.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

The only way to describe a typical day for a PLC programmer is “non-typical.” Even though everyone on my team has long-term projects and goals, new things come up every day. There isn’t anything monotonous about my job, and I love it.

The North Dakota Control Systems team programs, maintains, and troubleshoots the North Dakota system’s PLCs and peripherals. We work hand-in-hand with electricians and operations employees to ensure our pipelines have limited downtime and function as smoothly as possible.

Q: What do you find most intriguing about the work you do?

The work constantly varies, and the work my team does translates directly to the successful operation of our pipelines and facilities. Knowing that my team is partially responsible for the successful physical movement of oil from Point A to Point B is very rewarding.

Q: What is one quote you live by?

It might sound silly, but my dad always said: “Can’t never done a thing.” I still use that quote today, and I feel it’s the most basic of all truths. If you think you can’t do something, then you can’t. Having a little faith in yourself and being willing to step out of your comfort zone will take you further than you ever imagined.

Q: What sort of work do you do to mentor young women considering, or pursuing, a non-traditional career path?

I teach computer science classes, part-time, at a local college. Doing this allows me to keep current on the latest trends and also to encourage young people (both men and women) to choose a career path that makes them happy and keeps them engaged, rather than a career path that is traditional or expected.

Q: Given the experience that you’ve accrued, what advice would you have for those young women following in your footsteps?

Don’t be afraid of dipping your toes into what has traditionally been a “man’s position.” Gender has nothing to do with competence, and if you allow your gender to be a factor in what you do for a living, you’re both selling yourself short and robbing a potential future employer of your talent.