Fraser Waldie, 34
Technical Service Specialist, Consumer and Industrial Films, Nova Chemicals Corp.
Fraser Waldie became interested in polymer and material science in high school, thanks to some excellent science teachers.
"It was in high school that I realized my passion for chemistry and can distinctly recall a demonstration for producing 'nylon rope,' which got me truly fascinated in polymer and material science," he said. "This passion was carried through to my university career, where I majored in the honors chemistry program for my B.Sc. degree and would later pursue my M.Sc. in the area of inorganic chemistry and catalysis."
After graduating from the University of Guelph, Waldie moved to Calgary, Alberta, and started working for polyethylene maker Nova Chemicals Corp. as a research technologist in the analytical and additives department.
"I spent a lot of time networking within Nova and expanding my knowledge of polyethylene and additives technology and was quickly promoted to research scientist, additives technology, where I was responsible for evaluating new additive technologies and formulating polyethylene resins for specific functions and applications," he said.
He is now technical service and application development specialist, consumer and industrial films.
"I have had a number of great achievements during my short tenure at Nova Chemicals. I will always value the work that I did as a research scientist, and the accompanying patents, but feel that my more recent work as a technical service and application development specialist has provided broader value to Nova Chemicals and the flexible packaging community as a whole," Waldie said.
"In particular, I have spent much of my time over the past couple of years developing and optimizing fully recyclable, all-polyethylene film structures incorporating post-consumer resin into a variety of flexible packaging applications such as heavy-duty sack and collation shrink," he added. "Collectively, these developments help to provide more sustainable packaging solutions and help to support a circular plastics economy."
Waldie is involved with the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, including being a session developer for the TAPPI International Flexible Packaging and Extrusion Division.
Waldie is an avid fisherman and also enjoys skiing and snowboarding. He and his wife, Megan, have a son, Liam, and a Great Dane/Labrador retriever mix, Dougie.
Andie Stiles, Nova marketing communications manager, nominated Waldie for Rising Stars.
Q: What has been the biggest impact/challenge on your career from the coronavirus pandemic?
Waldie: Being on the customer-facing side of the business, the biggest challenge is not having that personal connection with people. Throughout 2020, we were constantly looking for new and creative ways to stay connected and collaborative without being able to meet face to face. Building new relationships, and strengthening existing ones, can be difficult enough but even more so when all of your communication is done over video conference and email.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Waldie: The plastics industry's ability to change and adapt to new regulations and consumer needs has always surprised me. It's amazing to see our industry continuously overcome new challenges by collaborating throughout the value chain, from additives and polymer producers to equipment manufacturers and converters.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Waldie: The plastics industry needs to expand its exposure and participation in early education, starting with elementary and high schools. Drawing from my own high school experiences, being fortunate enough to encounter someone early on in life who is passionate about sciences can have a significant impact on the decisions students make as they enter into college and university. The plastics industry should be more involved in not only educating but promoting the vast benefits of plastics and the exciting opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. Too often young people see plastics as boring and a necessary evil, when in reality, they are a marvel of engineering and help to solve a number of the world's problems in truly fascinating ways.
Q: One of our criteria for Rising Stars is whether they are active in the plastics industry, manufacturing or their community. How are you involved?
Waldie: Over the years I have become increasingly involved in conferences and trade shows. As my knowledge and experience in the industry grows, I have slowly transitioned from simply attending conferences to being an active participant and presenter. I look forward to continuing this progression and playing a more active role in various associations going forward.
I also see myself as a solution provider within the plastics industry, particularly for flexible packaging. I take pride in the research and development that I do within my company and look forward to every opportunity I can get to share my knowledge and learnings with my customers.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Waldie: Owen Lightbody, who was my first team leader when I joined technical service at Nova Chemicals. Owen and I also worked together as research scientists with the additives division of Nova Chemicals when I first joined the company. Throughout the years and through various roles, I have always found Owen to have a very positive and motivating attitude. More importantly, Owen has always brought that positive, can-do attitude into every project and initiative he has ever been a part of, regardless of how big or small, which consistently helped instill a feeling that no challenge is too big to overcome. Collectively, Owen has helped me to realize my full potential within numerous roles, as well as to overcome a variety of challenges, during my career with Nova Chemicals.