Myron Stadnyk is the distinguished lecturer for the 2022 C.J. Mackenzie Gala

Stadnyk wants engineering students to think about who they will be

As the distinguished lecturer at the 2022 C.J. Mackenzie Gala, Myron Stadnyk will share what he learned when he asked himself, "Who will I be?"

By Donella Hoffman

Myron Stadnyk is not usually at a loss for words.

But he was speechless he learned he had been chosen as the Distinguished Lecturer for the 45th C.J. Mackenzie Gala, which annually honours an exceptional alumnus from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Engineering.

Suzanne Kresta, USask Engineering dean, and Donor Relations Officer Richelle Kenn broke the news to Stadnyk during a visit to Calgary in fall 2020.

“I had no clue that they were taking me to dinner to tell me this. Because I’m chair of the Engineering Advancement Trust, I thought it was another work dinner. I just felt really emotional and got quiet, which is different for me. I did not expect it,” Stadnyk says. “I was just completely humbled and honoured.”

The gala happens Tuesday, Feb. 1. The in-person portion of the event will include a 50-person invite-only dinner at Prairieland Park before the official program begins. The virtual portion of the gala will be much larger. Guests can register for a free 40-minute Zoom Social and for a live broadcast of Stadnyk's speech, allowing anyone, near or far, to experience the gala from their homes.

“Because it’s engineers, and we keep people safe, you’ve got to roll with it,” Stadnyk says. “We’ll still be promoting the college and honouring our founding dean. And my favourite mentors – my mom and dad – will be there. The live broadcast will be fantastic, too.”

Stadnyk graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 1985 and started his career in the energy industry, initially working with a major oil and gas company in Canada and overseas before joining ARC Resources, then an energy startup, in June 1997 to establish its field operations. He became chief operating officer in 2005, president in 2009 and CEO in 2013.

A graduate of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program, Stadnyk is chair of the college’s Engineering Advancement Trust, which since the 1980s has raised millions of dollars to equip student labs. He was also a Governor for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers for over 10 years, served on the STARS Ambulance board for six years and currently holds board positions for Prairie Sky Royalty, Mancal Group, and Crescent Point Energy.  

“Myron’s engineering achievements are impressive,” says Jim Bugg, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “However, equally impressive is his dedication to volunteerism and service.  I believe our students will benefit significantly from his message.”

Once he sat down to write his speech, Stadnyk had a clear goal in mind: having his words resonate with the USask Engineering students attending the gala.

“I wanted to write a story and start by highlighting that I was in the same spot they are now. It feels like just a few weeks ago that I was in university even though it's almost 40 years ago. I want to connect with the students, telling the technical part of my story but also weaving in the human element of what I learned along the way.”

For inspiration, he drew upon the college’s recent messages to 2021 graduates that asked them, “Who will you be?”    

“I'm going to weave in that theme of ‘Who will you be?’ as I look at the various stages of my life, trying to get the students to think about who they could be, who they want to be, who they choose to be. I’ll have some personal anecdotes and advice about not only having a fulfilling career but also a joyful career, along with managing all the millions of things you have to do to get through life.”

The college's annual Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1976 to honour alumni who have achieved positions of eminence in the engineering profession. On its 10th anniversary, the event was renamed for Chalmers Jack (C.J.) Mackenzie, the first dean of the college, to recognize his contributions to the college, USask and the engineering profession.

After a being awarded the Military Cross for his service in World War One, Mackenzie returned to USask and was appointed the first dean of the college in 1922, serving in the post until 1939. After he left the college, Mackenzie was appointed President of the National Research Council in 1944 and in 1948 he spearheaded Canada's nuclear development by becoming president of the Atomic Energy Board.

Stadnyk was initially scheduled to speak at the 2021 edition of the gala but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the arrival of the Omicron variant, this year’s gala has been scaled back from a full in-person event as per guidance from USask’s Pandemic Response Team.