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My Stantec Story: Jo Whittington returns, leads our Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group

November 28, 2022

Jo describes how recognising and accommodating different thinking styles can benefit our teams and our clients

In the My Stantec Story series, our designers, engineers, marketers, project managers, and leaders come together to share how their career journeys at Stantec have shaped their lives and moved them closer to their goals.

What first attracted you to Stantec?

I like the people, the culture, and the values. I like the way that Stantec approaches problem solving: don’t be too complex and ensure the right work is delivered the right way for the client. And, remember that we have a duty of care for the environment and the communities that we affect.

You left the business to pursue new opportunities and then returned. What was it that brought you back?

I worked for MWH (acquired by Stantec) NZ from 2004 to 2007 and MWH UK from 2007 to 2010, then I left to set up my own business. My husband joined MWH UK in 2002 and has remained with the organisation, transitioning to Stantec. I kept in touch with a number of Stantec employees, and when I wanted to work as an employee again, they welcomed me back. Sometimes it feels like I never left.

What has been your standout project during your time at Stantec?

Southern Water’s R&V process improvement project. R&V stands for risk and value; this is Southern Water’s process for delivering their capital programme. It starts from understanding the service risks, why these need to be addressed, and their root causes. It continues with agreeing to the preferred solution and delivering that solution. It finishes with looking back over the project, the lessons learned, and updating the service risks for the next round of investment. I spent a year helping Southern Water improve the process, working with Stantec colleagues and Southern Water employees as one collaborative team. We made big, positive changes which are being embedded and used.

Of our brand values, which is most important to you and why?

They are all important but to me the people and doing the right thing are key. Our clients depend on us to do the right thing to help them to meet their targets. We have a lot of knowledge, experience, expertise, and enthusiasm in Stantec, and we are keen to share it so that everyone learns. It’s a great environment.

What’s involved in your role as chair of the Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group?

While I am chair of the UK Neurodiversity ERG, this is not a solo project. We have a committee and lots of involvement across Stantec in the UK and globally. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved to date and the conversations we have started. I passionately believe that everyone should be included and treated equitably. As someone who is ADHDifferent, I know that a bit of patience and a gentle reminder of a forgotten email is appreciated. I also know that I can provide innovative solutions to problems as I think differently and see connections where others don’t.

It is very important to remember that when you’ve met one neurodivergent person, you’ve met one neurodivergent person. Between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the population are neurodiverse and each neurotype is different. Even those of us with the same flavour of neurodiversity, for example, ADHD, are different from each other.

How would you describe the culture at Stantec?

I find Stantec to be amazingly inclusive and friendly. In my experience you get out what you put in, whatever you are doing, and I am naturally chatty and like to meet new people. Stantec allows me to work in the manner that works best for me, and I am able to work on projects that bring out my key skills. I think we need to remember that collectively we are Stantec, and we need to make it what we want rather than expecting someone else to do it for us.

What are your ambitions for the future at Stantec?

I love working on projects where I can make a positive difference by helping teams and organisations to change for the better through engagement, facilitation, and teamwork. I would like to continue doing this work for clients and in Stantec, training others to be change managers and facilitators. I want to stay involved in neurodiversity and bring this subject to as many people as possible.

At Stantec, we do what’s right, and we put people first. For Jo that means continuing to create an inclusive, equitable workplace for everyone at Stantec. If you’d like to learn more about Stantec’s Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group, read about it here

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