Canadian Consulting Engineer

Conversations: Mass Movements

The president of the international division of CH2M HILL, Jacqueline Hinman, P.E., is based in Englewood, Colorado. She was in Toronto on March 22 speaking at the Toronto Board of Trade. CCE interviewed her after the presentation.

May 1, 2013   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The president of the international division of CH2M HILL, Jacqueline Hinman, P.E., is based in Englewood, Colorado. She was in Toronto on March 22 speaking at the Toronto Board of Trade. CCE interviewed her after the presentation.

Q. Hearing you speak about some of CH2M HILL’s projects around the world — the London 2012 Olympic/Paralympic Games site, Mumbai international airport expansion, Masdar City in the UAE, the widening of the Panama Canal, and sites for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games and Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup — left me amazed at the sheer scale and importance of the work you are involved in and the responsibilities of it all. What role has CH2M HILL played in these projects?

First, the important thing to know is that about 90% of our projects are small ones. A lot of very important things are done at small scale as well as large scale. But I gave a snapshot of some bigger projects only because they’re interesting and they teach lessons learned at a grander scale.

In London 2012 we were the program managers, as we are in Mumbai, Masdar, Qatar and Rio. We work in alignment (and are co-located) with the owner to manage the entire supply chain. On other projects we have served as a consultant, doing the traditional engineering and design.

We’re not a contractor and we won’t do the construction unless we’re part of the strategic thinking. But there are some sectors in which we will take on the EPC [engineering, procurement and construction] — the whole deal — as the prime. In the water sector we also perform operations, so we can add innovation throughout the process from design through operations.

Q. You talked about the Mumbai airport project and how squatters have taken over one of the runways, so now you have to realign the program. As program managers are those the biggest challenges, when circumstance drastically change?

Regardless of where the project is, things change. People change their mind, and you do have to be engaged in those issues. But today probably the biggest challenge is getting projects funded.

The next biggest challenge is getting alignment from the stakeholders, and getting things mobilized.

And safety is always a big challenge, because all of our people need to go to work and come home safely every day. By nature of what we’re doing this is a risky business. We make projects happen and construction requires vigilance around safety.

Q. How much are staff from your Canadian offices involved in these international projects?

We have a great talent base in Canada. Canadians are fantastic, well trained, very pragmatic and very business based consultants, engineers and constructors. We like to use Canadians on projects in Canada and all around the world.

Q. I can’t imagine being involved in such a vast scale of work.

It used to be that as an engineer I would say, look at this interesting thing! Or look at what we have built! The engineering aspects were fascinating to me.

But eventually you think about the broader impacts. What’s most rewarding to me about what we do is that lives are forever changed, for example because people are now skilled and we changed the employment picture forever in a part of London, or because we got rid of contamination, or because the United Arab Emirates have decided boldly to create a new R & D centre for very interesting innovative technology that will deliver benefits to the world for the future.

I certainly can’t claim credit for all this, but I do sometimes pinch myself. The world is an amazing place and particularly in our industry there is so much ingenuity. We are really lucky to be part of it.cce


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