Doug Oldford awarded Suncor Challenge Coin

Jun 10th, 2015

By Moira Baird

Doug Oldford awarded Suncor Challenge Coin

Retiring Memorial engineering co-op coordinator Doug Oldford has a coin that money can’t buy.

Mr. Oldford received the Challenge Coin from Suncor Energy’s East Coast Vice-President Brent Janke on April 17. It was in recognition of his 15 years working closely with companies like Suncor to develop work term opportunities for engineering students, matching students to jobs, and monitoring and evaluating students since he joined Memorial in 2000.

“I was somewhat taken aback and almost speechless – I emphasize almost,” he said. “I was pleasantly surprised. Any rewards or awards I might have gotten from Suncor were derived from the many students I had the pleasure of supervising in work terms over the years.”

The gold and red coin bears the words “Operational Excellence” and the image of the Terra Nova production ship at sea.

Similar coins were issued to members of the military during the First and Second World Wars as a means of identification. These days, the coins are presented in recognition of special achievements by military personnel, and that practice has spread to service organizations and businesses, including Suncor.

On June 12, Mr. Oldford’s 72nd birthday, he is scheduled to retire from a job he describes as a “labour of love.” One of the first things he’ll do is toss out his red pens.

“I’ve spilled a lot of red ink on work term reports over the years.”

It will be his second retirement – the first was in 1998 when he retired as Transport Canada’s regional director-general in Newfoundland and Labrador, following a 24-year career with the federal department in both Ottawa and St. John’s.

Mr. Oldford says Suncor has hired many engineering students in the province and in other parts of Canada – and many Memorial graduates are now senior engineers and managers with the oil and gas company.

“Suncor has distinguished itself as the employer that has hired the greatest number of students during my 45 work terms at Memorial.”

Mr. Oldford’s Memorial roots date back to 1961. It was his first year as a Memorial student, the university’s St. John’s campus had just opened, and S.J. Carew was the dean of engineering.

By 1966, he graduated with a bachelor of science and a diploma in engineering and headed to the Nova Scotia Technical College, where he received a bachelor in industrial engineering. From there, he worked with Transport Canada briefly before moving to the Canadian International Development Agency, spending four years in Jamaica as a senior management systems advisor to that country’s prime minister.

In 1976, he returned to Transport Canada, rose through the ranks and was extensively involved in developing two major pieces of legislation passed in 1987, the National Transportation Act and the Motor Vehicle Transport Act. That same year, he returned to Newfoundland, managing the 1988 “Roads for Rails” agreement that included the development of the Outer Ring Road.