Natural Resources vs. CPG: My Comparison as an Engineer - Chen

My name is Chen Liang, and I am a recent chemical engineering grad from the University of Alberta. Prior to becoming a GMT, I spent a combined 2 years working engineering roles across paper and pulp, mining and oil and gas in the beautiful, gorgeous province of Alberta.

I want to compare and contrast my experiences between working in natural resources and consumer packaged goods.


While working in the natural resources sector, the average age of my managers were 15 years my senior, who has their professional designation and a wealth of knowledge. This seems to be a commonly occurring theme across all three industries I worked in: while every single manager were extremely qualified and experienced, there isn't a fast track to advance your career even if you prove your capacity and your skills. Coming into Labatt Breweries, as a GMT, this mentality does not hold true. Past GMTs have become managers within 5 years of their career, and VPs within 10 years. At Labatt, results allows individuals to prove their potential and this recognition helps the right young professional advance their career faster.

Geographical Location

Working in natural resources sector, you go where the natural resources are, I had the fortunate opportunity to work in Slave Lake, Fort McMurray, Fort Nelson, Prince Rupert and Calgary. All of these locations with the exception of Calgary are small cities. Although there are benefits of working there such as a sense of community and pride, the lifestyle does not tailor towards a young professional. Working with Labatt, you go where the consumption is, which are big cities with large populations. I have either worked or will work in Toronto, St. Louis, Edmonton, Halifax and New York by the end of the 10 month rotation with exposure to the multifaceted dimensions of the business, from brewing and logistics to sales and marketing.


With most other organizations, the opportunity to gain exposure towards senior management is very limited. With Labatt, and within the first 2 weeks, I have not only met the majority of the management committee, but had built a personal relationship with each and every one of them. In addition, I will have the fortunate opportunity to grab breakfast with the board of directors of Labatt Breweries of Canada. This much exposure is second to none.

Will I Be Able to Use My Engineering Skill Set?

Engineers have a systematic approach to tackle problems. The approach is to identify the issues, search for the facts, break down to its components, and ultimately provide a sustainable, cost effective solution.

What's a bit different with Labatt is that you can get to apply this approach to not only machineries and operations but functions like finance, logistics, marketing, and sales.

In conclusion, being a GMT is a rewarding and extremely challenging opportunity but the payoff is infinite if you are willing to put the work in. This opportunity is not for everyone but those who do commit will excel in this program and reach new heights.