Liz Cadogan has worked for Stantec for more than 15 years – but her career has not stayed in one place! Joining the company as a Project Manager in 2008, she now heads up the division as the Director of Project Management Practices across all of Australia and New Zealand. We caught up with Liz to find out why change is always on the horizon at Stantec – if you want it.
“Stantec is a truly global company, and the world really is your oyster when you work here. You can change countries, change business lines, work flexibly. The opportunities are all there and the company is genuinely open to making it happen.”
“We’re more interested in what people deliver than where they are sitting.”
Stantec is passionate about helping people achieve a good work-life balance, and when it comes to flexible working arrangements Liz says she’s heard some pretty “way out suggestions” But Stantec will always listen, ask the right questions, and try to make it work. It’s not always possible for some roles but we accommodate whenever we can.
“It’s never an immediate no to anything. Stantec lets people have a voice in what works for them. We’re more interested in what people deliver than where they are sitting.”
Stantec knows that flexibility can benefit the company too and it’s always looking to learn from different ways of doing things. Liz has two people on her direct team who are job-sharing – but who come from very different areas of the business and different countries.
“They applied together and although it was trickier to set up a job share than a regular hire, we gained the experience of two different sectors, and it’s worked out perfectly. We care about getting the right people for the job!”
Stantec actively focuses on developing your career in the direction you want to take it through initiatives including mentoring, training and coaching.
“Stantec is a global company – there are plenty of opportunities.”
Liz has enjoyed first-hand Stantec’s global opportunities when her husband’s job took him overseas. She was able to easily secure placements in America, Australia, and New Zealand with each move, and without ever compromising her career growth.
“I reached out to my equivalent sector in US and asked if, by chance, they had any similar roles with openings. There were, and I transferred across!”
Following her stint in the US, Liz brought back her US role to New Zealand, and picked up a Project Management Commercial Leader (PCML) role for Water, whose PMCL was on parental leave. Then, after a year, she was promoted to her current role and moved again, this time to Australia to align with another new posting for her husband.
“My US boss said he didn’t care where I lived as long as I just kept doing the work. Through all my husband’s postings there have been no issues at all for Stantec.”
“Discovering the little gems”
Solving problems, finding solutions and “helping build the next generation of project managers” are why Liz loves her job and it’s what gets her “out of bed in the morning”.
“Project management comes with a large amount of logistics, and it takes a whole team to get the job done. I regularly talk to other project managers and discuss ideas about how we can expand our experience. I then take those little gems we’ve discovered and push them out across the business.”
Sharing knowledge is how the team at Stantec always strive to do better.
Stantec has acquired several other businesses over recent years, which has given them the opportunity to learn how other companies do things, and then bring that knowledge back into Stantec. There are also cultural differences across locations in the business, which can offer helpful new perspectives on operations.
“I strongly recommend going overseas and picking up roles in other countries with Stantec. We integrate our workforce across the six continents we work in, and you’ll acquire a raft of new expertise.
“It’s really helped my career having all that North American knowledge. I’ve also been able to work across different sectors – energy & resources, power & dams, water, and transportation. It’s given me a greater understanding of how we do things and makes us more rounded as project managers.”
“Never felt held back by gender”
Liz has worked in male-dominated industries her whole working career and admits engineering is still one such industry, although Liz says this is thankfully “slowly changing”. She hasn’t personally experienced any challenges and has “never felt held back” because she is a woman, but in her role as a manager she always makes sure to address head-on any behavior she sees as problematic.
“I don’t think we have any major issues at Stantec but as I’ve got more senior, the more I see it as my responsibility to stand up to these outdated behaviors if and when I see them.
“They usually stem from unconscious bias that the person often isn’t even aware of. I’ve always been direct and honest about pointing out these instances and addressing how to fix it.”
Stantec is committed to achieving greater equity and diversity, and as a result Liz says the leadership team now “doesn’t feel male-dominated at all.”
“I’ve never considered going somewhere else.”
Although Liz has been at Stantec for an impressive 15 years, in that time she has held several roles in different locations, building a wealth of experience – and establishing close connections across the company. We asked her what has made her stay so long and if she’d ever consider leaving.
“I love my job, and as a company, Stantec has made it really easy to be loyal to them.
“It’s such a nice group of people and we even have people who have left and come back. We are a large company now and so it’s a little harder to get to know everybody, but we still make a real effort. My job can be challenging at times, but I can honestly say I’ve never considered going somewhere else!”