Change Agent

Change Agents 2016: Scott Burrows, Pembina Pipeline

Canadian Business: Change Agents 2016
Scott Burrows
Scott Burrows

Scott Burrows

CFO, Pembina Pipeline

Why he matters: Bringing youthful thinking to an old industry

After seven years as an investment banker in Calgary, Scott Burrows welcomed his first child and started contemplating his next move. Tired of moving from deal to deal to deal, he was seeking a company he could help build and grow. “I’m always wanting to learn new things and challenge myself,” Burrows explains.

His timing couldn’t have been better. Pembina Pipeline Corp., a company Burrows had worked closely with on a number of deals, was in the midst of succession planning. So in 2010, Burrows joined Pembina as manager of corporate development, later moving into roles in investor relations and capital markets. A chartered financial analyst, he brought financial expertise the company was lacking, allowing him to play a key role in major transactions, like the $3.8-billion acquisition of Provident Energy Ltd. in 2012.

In 2014, Pembina announced that its longtime chief financial officer was retiring. At just 35 years old Burrows entered the C-suite of one of Canada’s largest utility firms. The investment banker from Penticton, B.C., admits that when he arrived in Calgary in 2003 to work at Scotia Capital, he knew next to nothing about the oil and gas industry. But after nearly a decade and a half in Cowtown, Burrows is well-versed in the ways of the cyclical sector, and he’s inspired by the resiliency and innovation it takes for companies to succeed in it.

Despite the energy industry’s slump, Pembina has so far managed to avoid the bad news of rivals who are laying people off by the hundreds or whose pipelines are embroiled in regulatory controversy. The $15-billion company has held on to its 1,200 employees, and its Plateau Pipeline subsidiary recently received environmental approval for an expansion project in British Columbia’s northeast natural gas basin. “We’re weathering the storm pretty well,” says Burrows, noting that the company’s assets are backstopped by signed contracts.

Burrows credits his meteoric rise to hard work and good decisions, but he’s keen to acknowledge the role of the executives and directors who were willing to take a chance on him. Age, he says, is “just another angle on diversity.” In an area of the economy traditionally dominated by veteran executives, Burrows holds his own through a combination of self-confidence, openness to new ideas and humility. “Trust your people, let them get the credit they deserve, don’t ever let your success go to your head and remember that everyone is replaceable.”

More about the 2016 Change Agents