Saskatoon-based Operations Manager Rudy Willick identifies as Indigenous. Born and raised on a farm between the small rural communities of Spiritwood and Shell Lake, Saskatchewan, he sees his heritage as honoring his history and past traditions.
“I wasn’t exposed to my [Indigenous] heritage very much when I was growing up,” he said. “It wasn’t until later that I started to connect with my history and culture.”
As long as he can remember, Rudy felt the need to serve and at the tender age of six he knew he wanted to be a firefighter.
“I felt a calling to make a difference in my community,” he said. “I always had good grades and I went into Emergency Services directly from high school. I was a paramedic and a firefighter.”
Initially, working in Emergency Services offered Rudy the challenge he was looking for, but in time Rudy longed for a new challenge. Pursuing his love for Chemistry, in 2007 Rudy enrolled on a Chemical Technology program at his local college, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry four years later. Throughout his studies, he continued to work casually as a paramedic.
Fresh out of school and in search of opportunities in his new discipline, Rudy took on a Chemical Technologist position with a geo-chemistry company.
“I found the work there fascinating,” Rudy said. “There was so much to learn and I had a great mentors.”
But a downturn in oil pricing and the Uranium industry impacted the company fortunes, forcing Rudy to look for another position. It was during this job search that he found GFL.
“I did some research and realized it was a perfect fit for me as I had my class 1 license from being a firefighter, extensive health and safety training, and my new degree in Chemistry with recent industry experience to round out my background,” he explained.
Rudy joined GFL as a Hazardous Waste Advisor for the company’s liquid waste branch in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
“Once starting with GFL I found out how big and diverse [its] operations were,” he said. “The new advisor role was definitely a learning curve for me. I would go to clients’ sites, asses the hazard, identify a solution and put together a proposal for the project. It was a blend of technical knowledge, sales and customer service.
“In this role, I was able to see all the aspects of the company and I advanced quickly.”
In a fast-moving, dynamic waste industry, Rudy appreciates the challenge of a workplace where no two days are the same. He also enjoys working alongside colleagues that share his drive to succeed, learn and grow.
“There is no script, things are always evolving, so we are constantly challenging ourselves to be more efficient, diversify and look at solutions holistically,” Rudy said. “We have the best people here at GFL, we have a great work culture. We look after one another, we respect one another and appreciate what everyone contributes.
When it comes to diversity of opportunity, Rudy says that GFL has plenty to offer prospective employees.
“With the different divisions GFL has, you can find the right opportunity with room to grow and if you work hard, you’ll be noticed,” he said. “I would highly recommended GFL as a place to work—[it] is a huge Canadian success story and it’s great to be a part of it!”
With seven years’ experience in the industry, Rudy has some sage advice for aspiring waste professionals: “Don’t let little things take you down—the challenge will build you, not stop you.”
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