Celebrating Women in MRE: An Exclusive Interview with Dr. Mary Lou Lauria


Women are setting new sails for the Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) industry. Their commitment to sustainability and their unique perspectives are not just resilient responses; they represent a sea of change in an industry once dominated by male voices. This week, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day, MRC is taking a moment to spotlight a few of the women making waves

When we think of women at the forefront of MRE, Dr. Mary Lou Lauria’s career is one that’s impossible to overlook. Residing in Vancouver, Canada, as the VP of Operations for Worley, she not only shepherds strategic growth and program delivery but also champions environment and water stewardship. With over 25 years of experience in environmental consultancy, Dr. Lauria is helping shape the future of this evolving industry by fostering collaborative relationships with Indigenous communities and crafting a vision of the energy industry that honors the environment and its diverse stewards.

In our conversation with Dr. Lauria, we dive into the challenges, inspirations, and momentum driving change in the MRE sector, and several themes arose, particularly in terms of gender dynamics and Indigenous empowerment.

The Role of Inclusion in Industry Transformation

In the wake of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and the 94 Calls to Action, acknowledgment of Canada’s history, and economic, social, and environmental reconciliation with Indigenous communities are paramount. Dr. Lauria and Worley are committed to driving change, being corporate members of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and catalyzing the establishment of Indigenous-owned businesses in the delivery of environmental services, and empowering communities to shape their sustainable futures.

“The focus of our Indigenous businesses is environmental management and land stewardship coupled with economic reconciliation. It’s an opportunity for the inclusion of Indigenous members from the community to bring them into an organization where they can pursue a career. It is not about one-off small job scopes, it’s about formulating a journey so that they can pursue a career within a company and industry like ours”. Says Dr. Mary Lou Lauria, “When I look at the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion’, it goes way beyond gender, it’s about creating space to have an inclusive workforce reflective of the many communities in which we work. Inclusion allows us to bring together a range of skill sets, different world perspectives, cultures, and thought leadership.”

Her support in establishing new Indigenous businesses with majority ownership by Indigenous partners is a clear example of her dedication to fostering genuine collaboration, economic reconciliation, and inclusion. In addition, by supporting outreach programs with universities such as the University of Alberta geared towards inspiring and including Indigenous youth, Dr. Lauria and the team at Worley are helping to bridge the gap that has long hindered underrepresented groups from entering the MRE and STEM sector.

Some of the recent programs Worley has focused on include Worley’s Indigenous Endowment Fund at the University of Alberta and the support to the DiscoverE program which focuses on inspiring youth from Kindergarten age and upwards. Dr. Lauria shared that these programs “align with the deep sense of commitment and protection of the land and water that Indigenous peoples have. Their connection to the land on which they are the custodians makes attractive a profession around sustainability and environmental protection. What we’re trying to do through our businesses is allow for people to truly see a career within a profession that aligns with their core values.”

The Power of Mentorship and Community Networks

Dr. Lauria’s narrative is not one devoid of challenges. She candidly addresses the headwinds faced by women in the energy sector, confronts them, and hopes to reshape them into opportunities for growth and transformation.

“When I think back 25 years as I started my career the role of gender and how women were viewed in business was just different. At the beginning, I was the only woman in the room in 90% of the meetings and I really struggled to put my hand up and make my voice heard. I’m still in meetings where women may be in the minority, but I think with experience you learn how to handle those situations a bit better, and advocate for more female and diverse voices and opinions to be heard.”

For Dr. Lauria, mentorship and allyship are critical pillars that pave the way for women and underrepresented groups to rise and lead. She outlines the steps taken by her and her colleagues to create stepping-stones, ensuring the next generation inherits a more inclusive and equitable industry.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate in having strong mentors and advocates around me. Every person, no matter their gender, needs a good advocate, a strong advocate, and somebody who will challenge and encourage you to do things that make you step out of your comfort zone… I know that I am privileged in having people around me to push and advocate for me and it’s something I’m very aware of.  I deeply appreciate the opportunities I have had and recognize my responsibility to use my voice and advocate  for others.”

Empowering Women in Marine Renewable Energy

The significance of mentorship and support networks in carving out success for women in MRE cannot be overstated. Dr. Lauria and Worley’s vision for inclusivity and diversity offers a clear directive for the future – one where women and underrepresented groups are not just participants but drivers of change.

“I see my role as recognizing the amazing future leaders we have in our business and coach and mentor them to enable their success.  Opening doors for them to allow opportunities on projects all over the world and encouraging them to take a step forward.”

Building strong networks of support and mentorship will pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable industry.

Charting a Course for the Next Generation

Acknowledging her introverted nature and lack of self-confidence when she began her career, Dr. Lauria underscores the importance of challenging self-doubt and embracing opportunities. She urges all organizations to examine their biases in the hiring process and commit to equal opportunities for all candidates.

In essence, Dr. Lauria’s message is clear: seize opportunities, challenge self-doubt, and advocate for equality. By doing so, we can create a more equitable and inclusive future.


For more information on Worley and their initiatives check out these resources 👇