Michele Harradence on Embracing Challenge

Michelle Harradence GRIT Award Winner profile on Experience Energy

Energy role models

Michele Harradence, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for Enbridge’s Gas Transmission and Midstream business unit, said it was her maternal grandfather, Adrien J. Cormier, who helped pave the way for her career. Her grandfather, who was of Acadian descent and from the East Coast of Canada, was a lawyer and eventually Chief Justice of the trial division in New Brunswick, during a time when many Acadians lived a more modest life.

The past influences our future

Michele’s grandfather was considered the “smart one” in the family and was sent off to school at age 12. This was an exceptional feat, Michele explains, in that the Acadians, although allowed to return after the Grand Deportation (which “resulted in many of our relatives settling as the ‘Cajuns’ of Louisiana”), lived very much in poverty.

To better life for future Acadians, in the early 1960s, working with other leaders in New Brunswick, her grandfather decided the only way to lift the Acadians out of poverty was to ensure they had access to post-secondary education in the French language. Together, these leaders created the Universite de Moncton. The law school – the only French speaking common-law law school in the world – bears his name.

After first earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Queen’s University in Ontario, Michele would follow her grandfather’s path and earn an LLB, Law from the University of New Brunswick.

Finding the strength within

Michele’s greatest career challenge has come from within. “Taking that leap of faith to make such significant moves in my career, including leaving a strong career path at a major integrated oil and gas company to try out something very different with a midstream company was very challenging.”

Michele has held roles in various organizations such as law, engineering, and also projects and operations. 

“I continuously challenge myself to stay confident, to look around me and recognize that in fact, I have strengths that I bring to the table, and to have faith that I can demonstrate them through my actions and results."

Like many women, Michele admits that she can be her harshest critic. “I am fortunate to have many people in my life providing me with support, and at the end of the day, I have had to ensure I build that strength internally as well.”

Heeding the voice within

Michele’s confidence is important not only for her own well-being, but also for that of the people in her organization. She remembers in one of her first leadership roles, she had concerns early on regarding the [new to her] organization’s safety culture.

“Rather than listen to that concern, I deferred to people who were more experienced than me and in the end, we had a poor year in terms of our safety performance. I have not forgiven myself for not trusting my instincts.”

It was a difficult, but valuable lesson. “Things changed rapidly after that, both in terms of our safety expectations and in terms of me learning to ‘trust my gut,’ especially when it comes to the safety of our people.”

Leaving the world a better place

That care and concerns extends to the people she encounters outside of the workplace, as well, with a particular focus on the United Way. “I ran the Shell Canada campaign in Calgary in 2011 and have been a Leader in Canada and [now] a de Tocqueville member in Houston.”

Thinking back to her grandfather, Michele says,

“He truly embodied the value of leaving the world better than you find it and that is something I strive for in everything I do.”

Michele Harradence is a past GRIT Award winner and Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Gas Transmission & Midstream with Enbridge

Michelle Harradence GRIT Award Winner profile on Experience Energy

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