By Stewart Prest, submitted 2009
Cindy Bruntjen knows something about finding new pathways in life. She’s been pointing them out to others and taking them herself throughout her professional career.
Right now, she’s the Senior Recruiter for StatoilHydro Canada in Calgary and is helping staff the company’s Northern Alberta oil sands projects and off shore drilling programs in St. John’s, Newfoundland. StatoilHydro, the 11th largest international oil and gas company, is a Norwegian based firm. The path to that job has had its twists and turns, some perhaps unexpected, but all interesting.
The road began with her degree at Augustana, where she studied psychology, competed on the basketball, biathlon and cross-country ski teams, and worked at the career resource centre.
After graduating in 1994, she spent a year working as a liaison officer for the Augustana admissions department. “In some ways, it was my favourite job,” says Cindy. “I was very interested in public relations, and in being an ambassador. Through that job I saw so much of the country and represented Augustana.”
The following year, she began working as youth minister for Messiah Lutheran Church in Camrose, and stayed on for two years there. She then struck out in a new direction, and subsequently found herself in South Africa working in the HR department at Coca-Cola. “They were looking for someone with a degree in psychology. My experience as a campus ambassador and my experience with the career resource centre were helpful as well.”
By 2000 though, Cindy was ready to come back to Canada. Once here, she secured a job in Calgary with an executive recruitment firm. As before, it was in some ways a radical shift, but in other respects grew naturally out of her previous experiences.
“Everything I’d done along the way provided stepping stones helping me to develop new skills, and giving experience in leadership.
“My degree at Augustana helped develop analytical thinking and communication skills, but it was with the help of mentors within the search business, and through the experiences I had there, that I developed the specific abilities necessary to be a successful recruiter.” She spent the next eight years developing contacts throughout the petroleum industry to go with her growing recruitment skills.
Then last year, she changed jobs once again, to assume her present position with StatoilHydro, one of her former client companies. Once again, the past served as prologue. “I wanted to be with a world class organization, and to travel with work. My experience with Coca-Cola helped me on both counts – I had worked internationally with them, and received solid training in corporate HR and recruitment.
“The Augustana degree was important, too. Everyone on my HR team is well educated and writing skills, team work, and critical thinking skills are all necessary to do the job well. Even my background in the principles of psychology has been very helpful in understanding the ideas underlying organizational development.”
The Norwegian connection at StatoilHydro found echoes in her past experience as well, with ties to the Norwegian heritages of Augustana and Messiah. “I work with Norwegians, so I am trying to learn the language. I love cross-country skiing, too.” The company is a major sponsor of Cross-Country Canada and Cindy was on the StatoilHydro ski team at the Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Race in February. She credits her former professor and coach, Dr. Garry Gibson, for introducing her to skiing, and they were both out on the trails at a few ski races this winter. She hopes to follow in his ski tracks and race for years to come.
It’s been a winding road, but Cindy has moved from strength to strength as she’s travelled it. And whether she’s been working as a university liaison officer, a youth minister, or a corporate recruiter, Cindy’s been helping others to find their way in life as well.