Born and raised in Cranbrook, B.C., Sabrina Drake followed in her father’s footsteps by beginning her career in the coal mining industry as a heavy equipment operator. She now works in a different kind of mine at our Fort Hills site.

Many members of Sabrina’s immediate family work in the coal mining industry. “It’s in my blood to become a heavy equipment operator,” she says. “It was inevitable.”

Sabrina worked in the B.C. mines for a year. Her next opportunity took her a little further from home, driving haul trucks in the oil sands mines of Fort McMurray. She shares that while she wasn’t new to mining, there was a learning curve. “As a hard rock coal miner, the geology was very different than I was used to. It took some time for me to get used to ground and weather conditions for driving heavy equipment.”

Sabrina got hired as a full-time heavy equipment operator at Suncor in 2019. Then in 2022, she decided to try something new. “I put up my name to fill in as backup supervisor who steps in when the supervisor is on holiday or is sick.” This helped her gain the experience to apply for a full-time supervisor role. “I applied for the full-time position as soon I saw the posting go up.” After completing the recruitment process, Sabrina was offered the role.

Recently promoted to Team Lead, Operations, Sabrina is responsible for organizing and assigning workers to jobs requiring graders and wheel dozers, as well as worker reassignment, when equipment is unavailable due to unscheduled maintenance. Her office is her truck, because she needs to be in the field from the beginning and to the end of every shift.

Sabrina Drake in her truck. She is wearing a black jacket with florescent strips and is holding a walkie talkie in her hand.

As a Team Lead, Operations, Sabrina Drake works from her truck which serves as her mobile office.

“You start with the morning lineup and then the calls start coming in as soon as the workers are on the busses heading to their assignments.” From truck drivers looking for authorization to enter the mine, operators asking directions for roads that are open or closed and contractors needing credential verifications, Sabrina receives an average of 100 to 120 calls per day shift.

Sabrina says that one of the best parts of her job is watching people succeed. “I love seeing people start out and then see them move to the next step in their careers and the step after that. Just look at me, I went from being a haul truck driver to being a leader.”