Celebrating International Women’s Day with Ashley Popovich

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re sharing two stories this week of female employees who work in our Paper Excellence mills. We’re pleased to introduce Ashley Popovich, Environmental Specialist who work at our Catalyst Port Alberni mill.

How did you come to work at Catalyst Port Alberni?
I started working at a paper mill in my hometown of Snowflake, Arizona. I worked at the mill in the summers when I was at university and I guess I did a good job because they offered me full-time work when I graduated. A year later, the Snowflake mill closed and I was given the opportunity to move to another facility. I chose the Port Alberni mill and I’ve worked here eight years now.

What drew you to environmental science and why do you like it?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronomer. I was always interested in the sciences and space caught my eye. Then when I was a senior in high school I learned about environmental science sector. I knew pollution was a problem, I wanted to fix the problem, but didn’t know you could go to school to study it specifically and learn how to prevent it. Today I have a bachelors degree in Environmental Science and a masters degree in Environmental Practice.

Why do you like your job and what are you responsible for?
I like the mixture of routine and variety. I do routine data entry and report generating and I also get to go out on the Alberni inlet and our landfill to collect samples for our data. I really enjoy being in the environment that I’m monitoring and doing the work that reduces the environmental impact of the mill.

I’m responsible for ensuring compliance for environment regulation and permits for the site—air, water and landfill. There are monthly and annual reporting requirements for BC’s Ministry of Environment and Environment Canada. I’m also the coordinator of ISO9001 quality management system that ensures our production meets the international standard.

What challenges do you face in your work because you’re a woman?
One challenge that I have faced as women, throughout my career, is the need to justify my answers further than what would be required from my co-workers.

What would you tell girls who are thinking about a career similar to yours?
Don’t hesitate to pursue environmental work. Be persistent and let your passion and curiosity for the work drive your ambition. There will be challenges and struggles but that is part of the journey. Never stop learning and be confident in what you have to offer to the environmental sector.