Margeaux Maron was standing in water up to her knees in the cowboy change room under the grandstand on the Calgary Stampede grounds when she noticed old rodeo photos float by.
“That’s a really historic space where generations of cowboys have come to compete at the Stampede. I was sad because it was such a palpable tradition,” said Maron, who was there documenting the devastation of 2013’s once-in-a-century flood.
Maron had been hired by the Stampede as a brand reporter just weeks after earning a business degree from the University of Alberta’s School of Business. Suddenly, she was the on-the-ground reporter for the continent’s biggest story.
“When you started seeing the actual damage on CNN and on CTV News Network, that was my footage,” she said.
“All of a sudden, it turned into telling this gigantic story about resilience and how a community came together to survive and get through it.”
Over the next month, Maron documented how the crisis brought out the best in people as Calgarians banded together to salvage their beloved rodeo from the floodwaters.
“It was really motivating and inspiring,” she said. “I think a lot of people kind of levelled up one step in their careers after that.”
That included Maron. The Bow River had barely subsided before the Weather Network gave her a platform to continue showcasing the humanity that emerges during devastating natural disasters.
She stayed there for a year before joining Global Edmonton as a weather person.
“It soon became very clear to me that the skills I sought in the commerce undergrad were probably more useful and made me a more effective reporter because, after all, this is still a business,” she said.
“That’s where I began gravitating towards leadership positions and really started thinking to myself, ‘How can I offer more of myself in what I do?’”
Maron married, started a family and began to evolve in her professional life. In 2018, she took a job as community reporter and returned to her alma mater to pursue an MBA.
“I just chose to put my career onto the fast track at a time when a lot of people put their careers on hold,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s the right choice for everyone, but I had the support system to do it.”
If juggling a one-year-old, a second pregnancy, a nine-to-five job and an MBA weren’t enough of a challenge, the pandemic appeared.
“There were months at a time where we didn’t have any of the support network anymore, so I would often find myself sitting in a virtual class on a Wednesday night with my husband trying to do bath time and the kids crying for their mom,” she said. “It was a good thing and a bad thing all tied up in one COVID ball.”
As part of the MBA, Maron visited San Francisco’s Silicon Valley and Seattle as part of a whirlwind tour of tech giants like Amazon, Google and Boeing.
“That’s where I really started thinking about Edmonton’s tech ecosystem and what it needed to flourish as an ecosystem where startups can get investment, traction and scale,” she said.
“It was a combination of going on that study tour and then coming home with my eyes wide open to what was happening in tech in Edmonton and how we could better support it.”
She added, “Whenever I was hearing through the grapevine good news coming for any kind of startup company in Edmonton, I was bringing it up at the next editorial meeting trying to be the one to cover the story.”
She also talks about her particular interest in a pair of energy market classes by University of Alberta lecturer Hailing Zang that eventually led Maron to write a paper about how a lightning strike on a B.C. power line affected Alberta’s electricity market. Maron became so interested in the subject that at one point, she was live-tweeting the blow-by-blow of a sophisticated financing deal for a natural gas-powered electricity generation plant that would be partly funded with money from the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp.
“I’m thinking this is a lot of megawatts and it’s Indigenous-owned; this is a huge deal for everyone, but nobody was interacting with the tweet.”
It did catch the eye of people in Alberta’s Ministry of Energy. For fun, Maron shared a favourite paper of hers with some of them.
“They realized this is a storyteller who actually really understands this market.”
Before she had even finished her MBA, Maron was hired as a press secretary in the ministry. She was named recently as acting chief of staff to the associate minister of natural gas and electricity.
“If people are curious to know if they can do this for themselves, they can. And they will notice an extreme acceleration in their career from doing that during a time when they might have actually seen themselves stalling.”
| By Michael Brown
Submitted by the University of Alberta’s Folio online magazine. The University of Alberta is a Troy Media Editorial Content Provider Partner.
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