Chelsie Klassen

Chelsie Klassen

Global Director, Community Engagement and Social Performance, Associate, Environment and Sustainability (E&S)

Growing up in small town Canada, Chelsie connects her humble roots to all aspects of her work by listening intently and integrating stakeholder feedback into major project design. Her empathetic and proactive approach ensures that local cultural traditions are respected and social risks on projects are managed.

Chelsie has over 15 years of experience in social performance and stakeholder engagement that spans across the energy, metals, and infrastructure sectors. She spends her time alongside her global teammates as they jointly support clients in bolstering their social performance on projects across North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, a Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Management, and a Master of Laws.

Her accomplishments are notable, having been nominated and shortlisted for the prestigious title of Sustainability Leader of the Year at the 2023 Sustainability Consulting Awards. She also earned recognition from Oilweek magazine as an up-and-coming star in the oil and natural gas sector, thanks to her exceptional communication skills and leadership. Additionally, she was honored as a United Nations (UN) Innovator by the UN Global Compact.

Chelsie prides herself on the personal connections she makes along her journey and enjoys collecting local art as reminders of places she has visited—including an Inuvialuit jacket from her work in the Northwest Territories, Canada, that she hangs in her office, and a painting depicting traditional gathering of bush medicines by the Numina sisters from the Northern Territory, Australia.

What does positive change mean to you?

Positive change is being able to impart global experience and knowledge to enable better social performance on projects. By creating a safe space for communities to share their views with our clients, and vice versa, we can tackle the tough problems (i.e., emergency response, crisis management, project execution, shared benefits) and find solutions that work for all. This fosters decision-making driven by direct community influence on projects, in close collaboration with the project team.

How are you changing the world?

Making a substantial impact on the world requires a collective effort, shaped by a diverse range of perspectives. Collaborative ideas from our expansive team of 35 professionals across five countries drive our success. We implement and adapt key practices like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), the Equator Principles (EP), the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), and the United Nations Declaration or Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) -- and beyond that, local knowledge to ensure the proposed recommendations are aligned to jurisdictional expectations.

A successful project needs to do more than deliver on its intended business purpose. It must wholeheartedly embrace the mantra of leaving the community better equipped to thrive and prosper, ensuring a brighter future for the lives it affects.

Our ability to consider local nuances and implement these practices into the diverse environments we work in truly sets us apart. Throughout the last 15 years, clients have put more emphasis on having the best social performance in projects and exploring new possibilities, rather than simply developing the project. We take pride in contributing to their forward-thinking thought leadership journey.

What do you think are the toughest challenges facing your clients?

Working with a diverse range of stakeholders and rights-holders can present significantly differing expectations. These stakeholders include Indigenous groups, investors, communities, the public, NGOs, academia and more, whose perspectives continually shape the landscape of project development. While our clients are committed to fostering community inclusion in project development, the demands from external parties can sometimes shift from the fundamental objective: engaging local communities in a genuinely meaningful manner.

Addressing this challenge can be simple yet impactful: initiate a conversation. It all begins with taking the time to understand, listen, and inquire about the community's needs. By prioritizing this dialogue, we can align projects more effectively with the aspirations of the very communities they aim to benefit.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the team of professionals working as part of our Community Engagement and Social Performance practice at Hatch.

Every day, our team members come with their best ideas and generate new solutions for clients. From the world’s largest proposed solar development project, to reaching $450 M in Indigenous spend commitments on a potash mining development, to supporting financiers as they contemplate the social risk on assets before making a final investment decision, we have been there through it all – and more! And the best part is that we love the work that we do and have fun doing it.

What do you like most about working at Hatch?

Hatch’s entrepreneurial spirit is unique. I was fortunate enough to be the first team member of the Community Engagement and Social Performance team and experienced the support and energy from colleagues across the organization to help our practice grow. All employees played an active role in its success. Senior executive leadership, project managers, and our technical groups were always interested in the outcome for our growing team and in delivering the best possible support for our clients.

How do you think the Hatch culture is different from other companies?

We have a shared vision and culture throughout our organization: we are all one team. We are all in this together. As an employee-owned organization, this sets us apart in that no matter how big or small the task, everyone jumps in because we are all looking out for each other and have a unique combined drive to succeed – especially when our clients are relying on us.

This fosters a collaborative approach that guides us as individuals and within our teams, fostering a deep global connectivity that we bring to every project and client we partner with.