Category Alumni
 

Alex Demers

At just over 11,000 feet in length, 200 feet wide and 500 feet high, the new Champlain Bridge is truly a marvel (not to mention a refreshingly smooth delight to cross). Construction was a mammoth undertaking, given its location spanning the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and its southern suburbs, Quebec’s epic winters and the fact that its predecessor was still in use just a stone’s throw away.

“There were over thirteen hundred oversize pieces coming in from all over Quebec and from Spain, but no way to get them to the site,” says Alex Demers ’07, who was Director of Logistic and Material Management for construction company SNC-Lavalin, and Director of Procurement, Contract, Logistic and Asset Management for Signatures-le-Saint-Laurent, the consortium that led the project. Unforeseen constraints surrounding the transport of materials and equipment to the site meant that Alex and his team had to devise new ways to move materials to the site and establish a multi-model logistic strategy.

“It was like assembling a giant Lego set,” he says. “We had to use boats, barges, trains, modified trucks and unique cranes. And once we finished with the big Legos, we had thousands of trucks coming in with the smaller pieces. We needed to build a team of crazy guys who could work with crazy ideas.”

And work they did. Alex and his team managed to pull off a transportation miracle, coordinating the concrete prefabricated deliveries from Drummondville with the steel structure from Quebec City, Trois-Rivières and Terrebonne whilst handling the massive pier caps and main span pieces from Spain, and ferrying materials across the river.

It was a grinding challenge. A seemingly never-ending series of mishaps and problems. And one of the highlights of Alex’s career. “That bridge has brought me so much joy,” Alex says. “It’s a legacy I’m proud to be part of. My son was born halfway through the project. And now, as he grows up, every time he crosses that bridge it will be ‘Dad’s bridge.’ The amazing thing is that there were over 1,600 people working on this at one point in time, and for their families it will also be ‘Mom’s bridge,’ or ‘Grandad’s bridge.’”

Alex has always had a talent for getting things done. With a Bachelor in Business Administration (double major Management Information Systems, Marketing) and a minor in Economics, organization and foresight came naturally. He returned to Calgary following graduation and began working in logistic and warehousing. A short time later Alex was managing the logistic and warehousing team, and as well as taking on other warehouses. “I think they recognized the skill set that Bishop’s had given me,” he says. “I learned how to adapt to changing situations, challenge the status quo and find a balance between work and personal life.”

It’s been a steep upwards trajectory ever since. Alex participated in projects in Australia and Turkey before settling in Montreal to tackle the Champlain Bridge project. After working grueling hours without much of a break for over two years, Alex moved to Florida with his family and took one year off while looking for the next big adventure. “Just before moving, I was asked to assist on starting a project at the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport,” he says. “It’s essentially the construction of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) airport station. The REM is a new integrated network linking downtown Montreal, South Shore, West Island, North Shore and the airport. It’s an interesting circle for me after the bridge, because it’s another entry point to the city.”

Alex remains connected to his roots at Bishop’s. He has fond memories of playing Gaiters rugby, and remains in touch with some of his former instructors. “It wasn’t just one professor who made a difference,” he says. “It was many of them. I’m still connected with them on Facebook or LinkedIn, and I know I could pick up the phone and reach them if I needed anything. They’re still very much active, directly or indirectly, in my life. You never hear about something like that at other universities. Bishop’s is unique in that regard.”

From the Bishop’s University Magazine, No. 53, Fall 2019.

Melissa MacCoubrey

Director of Narrative Design at Ubisoft
Class of ’16

In the midst of helping her parents move, Melissa MacCoubrey was surprised by an old find: “We found old, very embarrassing diaries and fell on one from when I was eleven and it was written ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ and it says, even as young as eleven years old, that I wanted to work in video games.” Today, MacCoubrey is living her childhood dream creating overarching stories and narratives as a Narrative Director at Ubisoft Quebec for games such as the newest Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

As creative and exciting as MacCoubrey’s profession can be, especially attending motion capture shoots, it’s not necessarily always about fun and games (pun intended). The highlight of MacCoubrey’s career so far has been pushing and helping her team make AAA games (which is the video game equivalent of a movie blockbuster) more inclusive. For the first time in Assassin’s Creed history, players can choose to play as a female character for the entirety of the game. “I always pushed really hard for it and helped my team get to a point where we could be making decisions like this,” explains MacCoubrey, “I think that’s the proudest moment of my career so far.”

It was during her time at Bishop’s that MacCoubrey landed a position with Ubisoft Montreal as a scriptwriting intern. Having studied English and Drama, as well as being heavily involved in the arts, she believes that, “it was the combination of life skills and school skills that really helped me get to where I need to be.” Her advice for students looking to break into the gaming industry? “I know people hate being told to be themselves,” she laughs, “but honestly, that’s what gets you in. We can teach you the structure, as long as you have the ideas and the passion. That will be recognized.”

Jordan MacNevin

Master Brewer at 19-81 Brewing Company
Class of ’15

Jordan MacNevin found brewing through Bishop’s. He remembers how he started at BU, a young scientist with his sights set on Doctors Without Borders, but it was through Bishop’s that MacNevin found a path that allowed him to marry the creative and scientific sides of his brain. He was introduced to brewing through the Graduate Certificate in Brewing Sciences and at the Bishop’s Arches Brewery and fell in love. Thanks to his knowledge of brewing and networking with other Bishop’s graduates, he landed his dream job of being the head brewmaster at the 19-81 Brewing Company, named after the coordinates of the Cayman Islands, and the first craft brewery on the island. MacNevin embodies the idea that life doesn’t always go as planned, but gets you exactly where you need to be. He challenges and pushes himself every day to create new, exciting and locally focused beer to tourists and Caymanians alike.

Although the brewery is gaining popularity and keeping MacNevin extremely busy, he is always looking for ways to improve and stay true to himself, one being a Summer mentorship program he started at the brewery. This program takes in a local high school student for the Summer to work directly with MacNevin. From the beginning, MacNevin has also partnered with local businesses and farmers. He gives his spent grains to local farms to use for feed, in exchange for local fruit he uses in his next brew to make a one of a kind, community-focused beer.

Carla Oliveira

Journalist and Newscaster
Class of ’00

“Understanding what is happening in society, explaining it, breaking it down, and saying ‘this is what happened; what does it mean? What impact will it have?’” This is why Carla Oliveira loves journalism. Having been a Radio-Canada news anchor for the past five years across the country, Oliveira has most recently been working in the Eastern Townships for the Téléjournal Estrie. Her love of driving debate has played another important role in developing her interest, as journalism provides, “a space for a debate of ideas, presenting different point of views, different opinions and different interpretations of what happened.”

Curiosity is a must in Oliveira’s field, not only about what’s happening, but about people. Being a field journalist at heart, Oliveira admits that her favourite part about journalism is meeting people; “often when you meet someone who is passionate, for a certain cause for example, it’s extremely inspiring.” Oliveira also remarks that to be a good journalist, “you have to stay humble in the sense that you don’t know everything; you always have to go digging to know more.”

Her love of journalism was seeded when Oliveira was doing Portuguese community radio in Montreal as a pastime. During her undergrad, she wrote for The Campus and dabbled in written journalism. “I didn’t become a journalist right after Bishop’s, it took some time. But I think they were all little stepping stones.” When asked what her favourite part of having gone to Bishop’s was, Oliveira quipped; “that’s a hard question: do I give a politically correct answer or not?” as she laughed. “That it was like a huge family, with people coming from all over the country and the world.”

Alexandra Bachand

Perfumer and Olfactory Artist
Class of ’97

Has a smell ever plunged you head first into an old memory? Perhaps your favourite picnic spot as a child, or the familiar perfume of a loved one? Playing on the power of our olfactory sense, it could be said that Alexandra Bachand is a bit of an expert in this field. An independent perfumer and olfactory artist, both of which are rare professions in Canada and around the world, Bachand is the in-house perfumer of the artistic perfume house called La Grange du Parfumeur, which she co-founded with her husband in 2015. There she formulates, composes and fabricates in her own laboratory; “the process usually takes me a year or two. In one formula, there are about 30-50 ingredients.” Being that there is no formal perfumery training offered in Canada, Bachand studied and graduated from the Perfumery Art School in England.

Her journey to perfuming has been anything but typical. Having studied Fine Arts at Bishop’s, she says, “chemistry wasn’t my gateway, it was through the arts.” Bachand remembers the smells of the paints and solvents swirling in the air of the Molson Arts building, and to this day, “these smells will still plunge me right back to that time. It was a very important learning period in my life.” A love of history plays another huge role in Bachand’s life, having felt right at home studying within the walls of Bishop’s historic buildings. These two interests have married together perfectly in her work as an olfactory artist, where she creates olfactory art installations, combining visuals and scent to provide an immersive narrative for a public, and, “bring people back to different eras in time.”

Her latest project on the Italian Renaissance has brought back many memories of Bishop’s. “It was a period in my art history classes that marked me. I was so in love with everything that was Italian art.” At the time, Bachand had the idea of composing something inspired by the Renaissance Era; a dream she kept for many years. This year, after an artistic director approached her with a project proposal to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death, her excitement peaked. Travelling to Italy, she went on the hunt for the fragrances of Mona Lisa’s life. Bachand recalls that during her university studies, she “took a class about women in western art that made a huge impact on my life. It all came back in this particular piece as it captures the woman behind the art; Lisa Gherardini.”

Coincidentally, Bachand had recently returned to Bishop’s to show her children where she had gone to university. “I was really emotional because I was on this little journey connecting the dots,” Bachand laughs. “It’s amazing when intuition and the creative process finally find their way over the years, completing their own circle, and everything comes together. Bishops provided me with a springboard into artistic learning in the most beautiful way, and I’m really proud of it.”