Canadian Consulting Engineer

Speaking Frankly: a Conversation with Bob Gomes, Stantec’s CEO

Before taking over as president and chief executive officer of Stantec in 2009, Bob Gomes, P.Eng. had worked for the company for 20 years. He spoke to CCE about some of the changes and challenges he faces in his new role.

January 1, 2011   Canadian Consulting Engineer

Before taking over as president and chief executive officer of Stantec in 2009, Bob Gomes, P.Eng. had worked for the company for 20 years. He spoke to CCE about some of the changes and challenges he faces in his new role.

 Q. Has your day-to-day life changed since you became president of Stantec?

The biggest change is that probably 40% of my time is spent dealing with the public side of the company, which is something I did not have to do as a senior vice president in charge of one of the company’s divisions.

So that’s been a major change – understanding the investor side and the shareholders’ interests in Stantec, and representing the company to them.

This year I think I have had over 190 individual meetings and discussions with investment or institutional shareholders. It’s been over a year now that I’ve been having these meetings and I’m still getting used to it.

The other change would be just the variety of issues that I deal with that I wasn’t really involved in before.

 Q. Would you say that your leadership style differs much from that of previous Stantec presidents?

Definitely different. I’m only the fourth CEO of the company. The founder of the company, Dr. Stanley, was the first CEO, and then we had Ron Triffo, and Tony Franceschini.

Both Ron and Tony I would call very charismatic leaders. They were almost larger than life individuals. They just had fantastic charisma, great vision, and were very powerful strong leaders. And I think they were the kind of leaders Stantec needed at the time to get us to where we wanted to be. To move into the United States as a small Canadian firm and grow was a very difficult job. Tony, who was my predecessor, was just the perfect individual for that role.

My profile is much lower key. Because of the size that we are now, the company has much more of a geographically distributed leadership team than we had in the past. Our leadership is stretched all over North America. Our COO is in Boston; our senior leaders are in Irvine, California, in Denver, in Kentucky, in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary. Together, we are all the leaders of Stantec.

 Q. You have lived all your life in Edmonton. Why?

When it’s 27 below outside while you’re talking to me, that’s not fair! That is always a tough question to answer when it’s this cold.

Edmonton is a great city. I was born and raised here. My family is here, and where your family is, is home. I think it’s a great city and community to raise a family in, and there are great opportunities in Edmonton and Alberta. I’ve remained an Edmontonian largely because of that.

But I also realize in travelling across North America that there are a lot of great cities in the United States and Canada. I spend a lot of time in New York and Toronto and both have very vibrant downtowns and it’s very exciting to be in those cities. Edmonton is a lot more laid back, a lot smaller. But, the only other place I’m going to live is where I retire to, and that’s going to be somewhere warm without snow, so New York and Toronto don’t qualify.

 Q. Did you ever think you would be CEO of Stantec?

Never! I refer to myself almost as the unsuspecting CEO. I did not set out with the goal of being CEO, but I always liked doing something more, and being able to have a bigger impact on the company.

I’m certainly excited with the opportunity and am enjoying every minute of it – absolutely! cce


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