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Smooth Moves: DPG’s commitment to successful acquisitions

October 29, 2019

When integrating with a new company, having a program like the Developing Professionals Group (DPG) helps all employees find common ground

“The Developing Professionals Group (DPG) gave me a place to belong. I’m an accountant, not an engineer or scientist—we’re a mixed bag of people that want to get together for a common cause and contribute to the same thing,” says Kanishka Perera, national coordinator for Australia’s DPG.

What is that “thing”? At a high level, it’s connecting developing professionals (DPs) with their peers, senior and executive leadership, development opportunities, and their communities. After all, we design with community in mind.

New Zealand’s and Australia’s DPG chapters are passionate about bringing new people on board, creating an environment in which employees feel a part of something bigger, part of a work family—particularly impactful in a global firm where many people collaborate across great geographical distances.

And this is where the magic happens: not only does the DPG help to integrate our teams and connect our people to one another, they work hard to ensure that new people joining us through acquisitions have the best possible experience.

Athul Harris, a transport engineer, joined the Wellington, New Zealand, office after his former employer, Traffic Design Group (TDG) was acquired by Stantec in April 2018. 

“TDG didn’t have a formal young professionals group or social club, but the social culture was strong, so joining the DPG made it easier to integrate into Stantec. Otherwise it’s just work, right? You need something else to keep you engaged—human connection. Stantec has a fantastic social scene compared to what my friends have told me about other consultancies where they work. DPG definitely contributes to this.”

Having come from a design firm dedicated to traffic engineering, Athul also appreciates the exposure to water engineers and environmental scientists. With our March 2019 acquisition of Australian company Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE)—offering mechanical and structural services—there will be plenty of opportunities for DPs like Athul in both companies to collaborate and share expertise, helping to grow and strengthen the business.

And it’s already happening. Steven Muliawan is an associate process engineer and DPG committee member in Sydney. “We made contact with TDG and WGE almost as soon as we heard the good news they were on board,” explains Steven. “Paperwork is paperwork; it doesn’t create personal connection or truly strengthen a business. A casual chat between WGE’s and our DP leaders quickly led to a fun meet-and-greet event, which led to conversations about business operations—and now several of their staff are working on our transport projects.”

Steven believes the instant DPG connections were positive and gave WGE staff a relaxed platform to ask honest questions and help them understand our business and culture. “It felt like we were already one company, and lots of conversation came up about company operations and clients.”

For Athul, a formal professional and social group was another benefit that encouraged him to stay with Stantec. “Some people from TDG left, but that’s the reality of acquisitions, and it’s also a personality thing. For me, the social scene and DPG were important factors in my decision to stay.” 

There is so much going on for the DPs, a remarkable smorgasbord of networking, development, and social opportunities—fundraising, site visits, pub quizzes, karaoke, team building events, educational outreach programs, bake sales, multi-consultancy panel discussions, chartership training, culture and strategy initiatives, sports teams… the list goes on.

New Zealand DPG coordinators Laura Goodman in Christchurch and George Hitchcock from Auckland both believe that the DPG plays an important role in helping people coming from acquisitions settle in comfortably. 

“Without the DPG and social club, it would have been weird, an us and them situation. TDG were very social anyway, but it helped having formalised social events to get to know each other,” says Laura.

Acquisitions can be tough on everybody involved, but by supporting strong connections between colleagues, building shared social communities, and having a lot of fun, the DPG makes the Company stronger and helps each employee feel more at home. 

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

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