“McGill makes a compelling case for individual support.”

Impact of Annual Giving – 2013
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Portfolio manager Lynn Byrd (right) and colleague Felisa Ros atop an 80-metre wind turbine―one of 55 that GDF SUEZ owns and operates at the West Cape Wind Farm near O’Leary, Prince Edward Island. (Photo: Lynn Byrd)

Chemical Engineering alumna Lynn Byrd, BEng’92, manages a portfolio of power plants that spans Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the regulated markets in the United States.

Her employer, GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Inc., is a major player in this continent’s energy markets, operating businesses that include electricity generation and cogeneration, natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) distribution and sales, asset-based trading and origination, retail energy sales and related services to commercial and industrial customers.

Like many of our graduates, Byrd increasingly sees engineers taking on major leadership roles in industries not related to their original field of study―often at the helm of companies or as division heads of large corporations. Some, like Byrd, have used an MBA to help transition, but not all.

Lynn Byrd quoteA native Montrealer now based in Houston, she began her career in the engineering division at Air Liquide. After moving to the U.S. in 1994 she transitioned to leadership positions in engineering and then into commercial roles. She complemented her business experience with the Executive MBA at Rice University in 2002 and joined GDF SUEZ in 2008.

She and her husband (a University of Calgary engineer) are pragmatic as they budget and plan their charitable giving each year, she says, “both in terms of time and money.

bar chart 2 hi res“I doubt my career path is typical for a chemical engineer,” she said in a recent interview, “but my McGill degree certainly provided the necessary engineering fundamentals and an excellent foundation in independent thinking, problem-solving and teamwork―essential skills for career advancement and leadership.”

A loyal McGill Alma Mater Fund donor for 20 years, Byrd gradually increased her initial $50 gift to her current support level in the McGill Engineering Principal’s Circle.

“The two of us have had interesting jobs and great opportunities over the years, and as our income and our competencies grow, it’s a pleasure to share them with causes and organizations we believe in―especially those that helped provide the foundation for our current success.

“In McGill’s case, it has admirable objectives, good leadership and makes a compelling case for individual support. It has an impressive history and continues to be a great university, in part, because of individual giving.”

Byrd adds that GDF SUEZ Energy North America, Inc. generously matches her annual gifts to McGill. “It’s a wonderful part of the company’s benefits package” and she urges all alumni to check with their employers to see if they will do likewise.

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