My Stantec Story: Finding the collaborative ground with John Kilbey
March 21, 2022
March 21, 2022
John Kilbey, senior counsel and privacy officer, shares how the enthusiasm for collaboration and understanding at Stantec has helped him deliver excellent service
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.
My main role is as a senior lawyer within Stantec’s in-house legal team, based in the UK. Working in-house means my work is really varied, taking in everything from commercial contracting, procurement, office leases, intellectual property, claims and disputes, employment matters, general compliance issues, and pretty much anything else a business like Stantec might encounter.
Not having worked in the design-engineering industry before, I was interested to learn more about a company at the heart of designing and building the communities we all live in. It was both exciting and, I felt, something I would be proud to be a part of. I’m pleased to say those early impressions were correct!
I’m always learning. I started my legal career working in technology and IT contracts—software licensing, outsourcing, and so on. While many of the legal, commercial, and contracting principles carry across very well to the world in which Stantec works, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of learning about the business I’m now a part of. The same applies to my legal experience—the breadth of the different kinds of legal work is definitely one of the things I love about being an in-house lawyer.
Collaborative, supportive, and friendly. It’s especially pleasing that my operational and commercial colleagues are genuinely keen to get the input of a lawyer’s view on the contracts and projects they’re undertaking. That’s great because it shows me legal is adding value to the business; we’re not there to say “no” to things—rather, we work together to find solutions to problems and manage risks in a way that helps us all succeed.
Perhaps inevitably “we do what is right” is the one that leaps out to a lawyer! That’s not just about strict legal compliance though—I’m a firm believer that we can all work better if we take time to consider other points of view, such as what the motivations of our clients or partners or suppliers might be when they work with our business or what colleagues might be thinking or feeling in their roles. Doing what is right is often a question of balancing those considerations—it’s not always black and white, and often, finding the mutually acceptable middle ground and reaching a compromise is the best path to success.
My decision to take on the privacy and data protection role has been my main professional development change since I’ve been at Stantec. I knew the basics of the law before, but to go from what started out as a company need (get ready for GDPR!) and to be able to grow that into an expertise and responsibility which now sees me involved globally in privacy matters across the whole Stantec group has been a really welcome opportunity. Both the business and my colleagues have been greatly supportive too.
The Redditch office where I’m based has supported our local park by getting out en masse to cut back vegetation, build a “dead hedge” (a hedge made up of sticks and branches cut from trees), and give something back to the community in which our workplace is based.
The key to giving the right advice is to make sure we understand the commercial context for the project and work that we’re doing. We do our best to understand and get involved in the consideration of wider project risks, so it’s not just the contract terms and conditions we get.
Family takes up a lot of my spare time—I’m Dad to three school-age children, so I end up being pretty busy getting them to and from various activities. When time allows, I’m a keen musician and play the French Horn with a local concert band. I also play the piano, drums, and guitar with varying degrees of skill!
The people. I’m very lucky to be part of a really friendly team which is collaborative and supportive when it needs to be but is also really encouraging for us to develop our careers and expertise in ways we might individually find interesting. The wider business is also full of passionate people who are enthusiastic about the work they do. The buzz of working here is what makes every day fun to be a part of.
At Stantec, we do what is right, and for John that means working collaboratively with colleagues and clients to find actionable compromises and agreements. If you want to start your career at Stantec, visit Stantec.jobs to look at our available positions