Robertson Heather image profile

Heather Robertson

Job title and employer:

Senior Project Manager, Associated Engineering (B.C.) Ltd.

 

What does your job title mean?

My role and responsibilities are to manage a variety of multi-disciplined infrastructure projects from inception to close out. Extending from the conceptual stage to the detailed design and construction, project & contract administration, stakeholder collaboration, financial management, procurement services and asset management.


Background information:

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Born in Kimberley, BC – grew up in the East Kootenay

Where do you live now?

Kelowna

Where did you complete your training or education?

 BCIT – Building Technology

Capilano University –  Public Administration Leadership Certificate

I have also taken many other continuing education courses; many related to Project Management to learn more and to keep up to date with changes in this area.

 


What you do at work?

My workday filled with a lot of communication. Project managing is really the art of communication and bringing all the pieces together at every step.

In the early days of my career, I was on the technical and production side of designing. I used computer software programs to assist with the preparation of design packages. Checking in with the engineers or architects regularly was required so I could get their feedback on the design criteria and intent of the design. Interpreting what they said or provided required careful attention to detail.

Software has advanced in significant ways over the course of my career. Using these tools to the best of my ability has allowed me to keep current. I expect the impact of technology in design will only increase in the coming years.


How does what you do affect people’s lives?

Every project we work on has a benefit to the public. Sometimes, the outcome is an improvement on an existing piece of infrastructure. At other times, it is planning to improve or find a better a way of providing services to the public. This includes providing clean water, managing wastewater, providing environmental improvements, improving transportation facilities, etc.

 


What motivates you in your career?

I enjoy the process of bringing a team together to work on a project! Then I like following that project through the steps to deliver an outcome to the client’s satisfaction. It is rewarding to understand the complexities in providing community infrastructure services and systems to allow us to have the kind lives we live in our communities.


How did you get to where you are today?

I had no idea of where I was going when I was high school age. The country was in the middle of a downturn in the economy and there was no/little money for student education. I decided to pursue construction technology because I enjoyed drafting in high school. I completed a 2-year diploma program in Building Technology at BCIT. This has been the foundation of my learning and my career. I continued to take courses throughout my career to keep my learning up to date and to take on new roles and responsibilities.

I have worked in private consulting, public employee for a City, and a part-time post-secondary instructor at a college. I did this while raising my family. In addition, I have sat on a provincial board of my professions association and volunteered at many opportunities. I have also chaired two committees, and am past president of the Northern Technology and Engineering Society.

Each role I have taken on has been a twist or turn for me.  During my career, I have never written myself into a specific role. I have adapted with what is at hand and made this career what it is. I would describe myself as a generalist, willing to learn and adapt to the current situation.

I have had many role models in my career. The people that have influenced me the most are the ones that I have learned from their actions and professionalism. Some of my biggest challenges have been significant growth moments for me.


What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I have volunteered in many capacities over the past 40 years. Some of these roles relate to my professional life (e.g., sitting on an association boards or being a member of a committee), attending career fairs and volunteering at trade shows. In my personal life, I have been a soccer coach and team manager, cross country skiing timekeeper, science fair judge, and of course, school fundraiser.

 


What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?

I recommend keeping current with technology and seek out information for what you do not know. Always, push a little harder to get you through a challenge; you can and will do it. Also, develop a keen sense of trusting your instinct, which will help for decision-making.

If you feel your confidence waiver, seek a resource (trusted colleague, friend, family or other) to work through that and reset.

 


As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?

Take the time to listen intently and actively. Exercise your opportunity to have a say. This can be a simple dinner conversation or at a meeting.


 

When I was in high school, I enjoyed…

Art

Business & Economics

Computer Science

Math

Science

Drafting

 

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

Liked helping people

Enjoyed working with my hands

Was motivated by success

Liked reading

Felt at home in the outside, natural environment

Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do

Learned best “by doing”

Enjoyed outdoor activities such as skiing, kayaking, swimming

Liked to design or build things


 

ASTTBC thanks Let’s Talk Science for their partnership in developing this career profile.  Let’s Talk Science – a leading partner in Canadian education – is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering Canadian youth to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators, and volunteers across Canada. For more information about Let’s Talk Science, visit letstalkscience.ca.

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