Prudence McKenzie: Paving Progress at PLATO

Portrait of a woman with a warm smile, in her 40s. She has short, curly dark hair and fair skin with subtle freckles. She is wearing a black top and is inside a room with wooden paneling in the background. The lighting is soft and natural, highlighting her friendly demeanor.

The spring of 2023 was the start of a new chapter for Prudence McKenzie when she stepped into the room where PLATO Testing was launching its software tester training program in Prince Albert.

“At the kick-off, PLATO co-founder Denis Carignan. was introducing me to some of the PLATO staff, and I heard more about the training, said McKenzie.  “I was impressed by how PLATO was answering the Call to Action 92 from the Truth and Reconciliation by ensuring Indigenous people have access to jobs, training and education.”

After a few months of reflection, Prudence made a pivotal choice. She left her longstanding position with the Federal Government to join forces with PLATO, driven by a mission that resonated deeply with her: “Changing our world by building a stronger, more inclusive technology workforce.”

Walking away from the security of her federal role to embrace the unknown at PLATO was challenging for McKenzie, but the transition also marked her best decision. “The best decision I made was to accept this new and exciting position with Plato, I had the opportunity to leave the workforce completely but decided to stay and see how this role can benefit PLATO and my own personal career growth.”

In her journey, Prudence has confronted and navigated many barriers that women in leadership face, however, she’s stood firm in the belief that women are essential to steering us through adversity.  “I was told that women are the ones to lead us out of difficult times and we are seeing that,” said McKenzie.

When asked if there was a greatest moment in her career serving as an RCMP officer or during the past 27 years with Indigenous Services Canada, she noted, “There isn’t a defining moment but more of a realization that all my life experiences have made me the person I am today, and these lessons and skills that I have gained can be used to help others.”

Now, as the Indigenous Resource Advisor with PLATO, she takes pride in every chance to guide students and interns through their transitions into the classroom and workplace. Whether offering advice, lending a listening ear, or providing resources, she thrives on the variety each day brings.

The excitement she holds for her position at PLATO is evident. “It’s not just a job; it’s a chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, to be the support they need in times of transition, and to embrace the uniqueness of each new day. “

Two decades of growth at AGI with Andrea Harrabek

A happy family of five posing for a photo outdoors at dusk. From left to right: a young woman in a navy blue dress, a man in a white shirt and black tie, a young boy in a white shirt and gray trousers, a young woman in an embellished gray gown, and a woman in a navy blue dress with a tied waist. They are standing on a gravel path with trees and a soft sunset in the background, all smiling at the camera.

When Andrea Harrabek stepped into the role of AGI receptionist in August 2001, she had no idea it would grow into the dynamic, fulfilling career she has enjoyed for the last 22 years.

“Looking at the date now, it seems like a VERY long time,” she laughs.

Harrabek’s journey with AGI mirrors the growth and evolution of the company. Each role she has taken on has been a building block for the next, as she has embraced new challenges with enthusiasm and expertise.

Today, she is AGI’s Office Manager.

“I wear a lot of hats in this position,” Harrabek says. “Quality assurance, design coordination for a team of seven drafters and five engineers-in-training, document control for all projects, client relations, project coordinator assistant…and then, of course, the general office managerial duties. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but I LOVE it!”

Harrabek says her organizational and prioritization skills have played a key role in her success, crucial to her ability to manage AGI’s diverse and constant flow of projects.

“This is a crazy busy place,” Harrabek says. “No day – and no tank – is ever the same. It keeps us on our toes!”

Known for going “with the flow,” Harrabek juggles whatever comes her way while always prioritizing the client. She says she hasn’t struggled with decisions or barriers because Jeff and Wade Burton have created a supportive culture and a cooperative, inclusive environment with fair treatment and equal opportunities for all employees, including women.

“We all try to work together to get the job done,” she says. 

Away from AGI, Harrabek is a mother to three incredible children, grateful for AGI’s support of work-life balance.

“Field trips, activities — AGI has given me the flexibility to be involved in all those important moments,” she says. “You know, it goes by fast, and I really appreciate being able to have a career and also to be present with my family.”