March 3, 2023

PSC has more than 240 global employees all contributing to helping power a more sustainable world. Our employee spotlight segment offers a look at what our hardworking people are all about when they’re not serving our clients and each other at work. This spotlight is on North America Power Network Studies Consultant Marilyn Barragan who works from our office in Burnaby, BC in Canada.

How would you describe your role at PSC?

Marilyn: My current position in the company is Power System Studies Consultant, and I can say it’s a challenging and very stimulating role, but mostly, I think it comes with great responsibility. One should be able to perform detailed analysis over a large quantity of information and scenarios and assess the outcome of extreme conditions in grid studies to determine which actions to perform to either enhance or mitigate factors that could potentially compromise security in electric networks and guarantee to comply with regulation and standards related to the field.

This goes hand in hand with the energy transition and helps to build our way into a smoother integration of renewable energy resources. Having stated this, I think it’s a way for us to contribute positively to the climate change fight now that the industry has started to ponder a balance between reliability and carbon footprint and how engineering solutions would help to maintain this balance.

What’s the most interesting or most gratifying part of your job?

Marilyn: Being able to do problem-solving. When I encounter a problem or something is not behaving as it should, typically these are the times when I learn the most. Challenges oblige you to think about plausible solutions and to test your hypothesis, however, if it’s quite a challenge, you can always reach out to your teammates and learn from their experience, which is another part that I really appreciate from working at PSC. I can rely upon everyone around me to collaborate.

What is something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you?

Marilyn: I think they’d be surprised to know that one of my hobbies is roller skating! Although I’m not really good at it. In fact, I fall most of the time, at least 3 times every time I do it. Nevertheless, it’s just one of the activities I really enjoy and helps me to unwind my thoughts after a long day.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

Marilyn: I was born and grew up in a small city named Poza Rica in Mexico, in the state of Veracruz, which is relatively close to the Gulf of Mexico. The beach was within a 40-minute drive, so for my family and me, it was a tradition to go there during summer, although most of the time it was crowded because the weather was so extreme. Other than that, something particular about my hometown is that it relied heavily on the Oil Industry, so my being more drawn toward electrical engineering forced me to leave and search for other opportunities in the field. Ever since the moment I enrolled to study my career, I realized that making a life there would be improbable. So far I have lived in a couple of different cities in Mexico, either for education or job purposes. My last job was based in Mexico City and currently, I am living with my daughter and husband in Vancouver, British Columbia.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

Marilyn: I would really like to retire or have a vacation home back in Mexico near the sea. About two years ago I went on a holiday to celebrate my birthday in Baja California Sur and those were the prettiest sights I have ever seen, a lovely contrast between the desert and the sea. Also, there’s this really pretty little town called Cholula in Puebla, another state in Mexico, it has a young and nice vibe attached to it, a lot of museums, cafes, parks, nice architecture and colorful buildings, blue skies and sunny days all year round.

What are your hobbies?

Marilyn: I really enjoy outdoor activities, like roller skating, hiking and running with my family. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic started back in 2020, I began to feel curious about astronomy and places to stargaze without all the light pollution coming from big cities. Mostly these places were far away and uninhabited, but it is worth it since they are full of nature to go and explore in the daytime. During the nighttime, we were able to appreciate clear and starry skies. I remember vividly the first time I observed a planet or a star cluster through the lens of my telescope as one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen. Sadly though it’s not very often that weather conditions allow a clear sky to stargaze.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

Marilyn: A friend told me once (to be honest, several times) to be gentle and patient with myself. I believe those are words I sometimes forget because I can get distracted by superfluous things. So when I’m facing complicated and stressful situations, I try to remind myself to be patient and kind, knowing that as long as I always give my best effort into doing something, there’s no need to be harsh with myself.

Recent great read?

Marilyn: I mostly find myself reading content about my job or other things that I’d like to learn more extensively, for example, programming. Not so long ago I took some time to read something a little bit different; a book called Flatland by Edwin Abbott. I really enjoyed it. For me, it was amusing how the author used satire to describe a society at his age, and also how he played with the concept of many dimensions using math and how this can be interpreted in a space with no conception of further dimensions beyond the ones comprised in it. It was an interesting read that I would recommend.