Lorelei Ford
SENS MES'17 alumna, Lorelei Ford (photo credit: Stephanie Klyne )

SENS Celebrates: International Women's Day 2022

To mark International Women’s Day 2022, SENS interviewed alumni ambassador Lorelei Ford (MES ’17). Lorelei talks about her job at the Water Security Agency, her discipline around work-life balance, and who inspires her.

By SENS Communications

Tell us a little about your position at the Water Security Agency.

I am the Senior Water and Wastewater Program Analyst.

The position primarily involves the assessment, research and development of policies, programs, and protocols to address public and environmental health issues related to drinking water and wastewater in Saskatchewan.

Among other responsibilities, the role provides technical support to non-government organizations such as the Operator Certification Board and Saskatchewan Water and Wastewater Association.

The position also regulates the transportation and disposal of liquid domestic waste in Saskatchewan and coordinates technical feedback to the Ministry of Government Relations as it relates to the subdivision review process.

What do you love about your job? 

The program analyst position is a term position for me to cover a colleague’s maternity leave. As such, it is my personal goal to take this time to learn and contribute as much as possible to the management of water and wastewater. My motivation has been fueled by the feedback and support provided by my team and all the interesting and engaging aspects of this work.

I love the challenge of the learning curve which has been supported by the opportunity to take additional training related to the position. I think the regulation and management of drinking water and wastewater is extremely important and I am very proud to be a part of the team delivering this service to Saskatchewan. 

What is your proudest accomplishment to date?

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a public servant and steward of the environment. In my roles within government, I have delivered government services in the departments of fisheries, water quality and habitat assessment, and drinking water and wastewater management.

I always strive to be better and completing my SENS M.E.S. in 2017 was a great accomplishment contributing to my ability as I continue to serve the public. I believe we are constantly evolving on our career path, so each accomplishment is worth being proud of!

Personally, my relationships with family and friends are a priority and essential as they provide the base from which everything else is possible.  

Who inspires you? 

I am inspired by people that have the strength and security in themselves to give others the support and information they require to succeed. People that teach, collaborate, and communicate without fear or reservation motivate me like nothing else can.

Specifically, Dr. Lalita Bharadwaj, my masters supervisor, inspires me this way, as do individuals I work with at the Water Security Agency.  

What was challenging for you in your studies? Did your gender factor in any way? 

In the early years of my studies and career, the field of biological sciences was male-dominated; however, this has changed over the years and the number of women I see working has increased significantly.

Starting my masters at the University of Saskatchewan while maintaining a full-time job, and a household with two kids (1 and 3 years of age) was my most significant challenge! I had to use a combination of time off without pay and holidays to complete my schoolwork which meant I had to work through some family holidays. Even with a supportive partner at home the reality is that you are effectively doing 3 jobs so it is a lot of work!

How do you balance your personal and professional life? (Is balance even possible?) 

It is possible to balance your personal and professional life. For me, I create clear expectations for myself both at work and home. Prioritizing tasks to ensure you get the important things done means you do not have to worry about home while you are at work and vice versa.

When you feel like there is too much on your plate, write out your tasks, prioritize, drop everything that isn't a must-do, and then slowly start chipping away at the top. Eat well, sleep well and exercise!   

What is your best piece of advice for current SENS students? 

Treat your studies like a job. Show up at 8 am and stop at 5 pm. With some planning, you will get everything done and the downtime allows you time to think and process. Build relationships and take care of yourself in your time away from your studies.

If you get used to being undisciplined or are constantly overworking, you will find it hard to sustain yourself over a lifetime of work and you may not be a person people want to work with. Increasingly, I see employers, employees and coworkers that want the people they work with to be balanced, reliable and healthy.  

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Do not be afraid to change, even small and incremental steps will move you forward.