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Leadership that Listens: Including young professionals in senior strategic conversations

February 11, 2021

Young leaders were once again invited to the virtual corporate Leadership Summit—we brought together over 200 people from across the company

Every year, Stantec hosts a leadership summit. Bringing together business leaders from around the company, executive leadership discusses corporate strategy and solicits input from attendees. The goal? To foster networking opportunities across business lines and geographical barriers. This year, with COVID-19 keeping us all indoors and apart, the event went virtual.

The leadership summit presents a unique opportunity for voices from around the Company to be heard, which is why CEO Gord Johnston took this opportunity to once again invite emerging leaders to the event. Our office of executives knows the value of adding new voices to the conversation, and by including them, the hope is others in the business will be inspired to do the same.

Sade Akindele, our Developing Professionals Group (DPG) network lead and communications specialist, was even asked by COO Cath Schefer to be a part of the introduction of one of these sessions. “It was a great opportunity for me to speak about the importance of soliciting diverse perspectives, and the reward it can hold not only for the learning experience it presents for younger participants, but also for the creative ideas they may offer,” said Sade. These perspectives, she reflected, are what allow us to better connect and grow.

For project manager Rachel Cranford, the breakout sessions, where attendees were slotted into smaller groups, had an immense impact on her experience. “My perspective was challenged by others who have had different experiences than me, and that insight and the resulting connections are invaluable,” she shared. In this environment, Rachel felt she was able to flex her skills in a supportive, engaging environment, while also gaining insight from detailed discussions that shape the future of the Company. This concept is something architectural designer Diane Depardon also agrees with. She found it was a great opportunity for leadership to show how much they truly care about the Company and the teams that comprise it—they want to hear what younger generations have to say.

In addition to providing an opportunity for younger staff to connect with leadership, the summit allows senior leadership to demonstrate their commitment to the growth of the business and flexibility in the ever-changing world. This growth is not limited to the immediate future, but also long-term planning—how can we plan for, welcome, and coach our team to thrive in senior positions in the years to come?

This was a major takeaway for both civil engineer Taylor Ahrensdorf and architect Ray Kesel. Listening to leadership ask questions like “how can we get staff more involved in the scoping process of projects?” and “what’s the most effective way to learn new project skills?” made Taylor excited for the future of Stantec leadership—like he could be a part of it. As Ray puts it, “it’s encouraging to see leadership realize these opportunities are only met by team effort and soliciting ideas and information from a diverse team. The inclusion of DPG is a part of this diversification and the succession planning felt very encouraging.”

The Leadership Summit proved to be a great moment to connect all levels of the company, reminding us of the importance of inclusion and diversity, listening and sharing, and planning for the future. At Stantec, we aim to foster an environment that provides equitable opportunity and creates platforms for disparate voices, so that we can ultimately create stronger teams and deliver best results to our clients. While hosting the summit virtually was not without its challenges, one thing remained clear: we’re better together, even when we’re apart. 

Learn more about our Developing Professionals Group (DPG) at Stantec.

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