Leadership Breakfast Series
Join us for the third annual Leadership Breakfast Series, an initiative of the Faculty of Environment giving first-year Environment students the opportunity to connect with and learn from alumni through discussion and networking over breakfast.
Fall 2017 Topic
The topic of focus for September’s breakfast is “Coping with Change: Passion, Purpose, and Legacy”—learning how change affects our lives and aspirations in different ways.
Register here to attend; space is limited.
Please note: If you register for this event but do not show up without notifying the Advancement Office by September 13, 2017, you will not be permitted to attend LBS events for the next 2 terms.
Alumni in Attendance
Read about the alumni in attendance.
Program Coordinator, Project and Program Management, City of Guelph
As a certified environmental professional, Brigitte has extensive knowledge in environmental compliance, pollution prevention, management system audits and more. Even so, change is an ever-present part of her life, and is always a challenge. “If there’s one sure thing, it’s change,” she says. “Keeping that open mind and quickly adapting is probably your best skill.”
To read more about Brigitte's experience, click here.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo in 1996, Brigitte began her career as a Quality and Environment Coordinator at Kuntz Electroplating Inc., where she gained experience in environment policy, auditing and risk assessment. After five years with Kuntz, Brigitte began working as the Pollution Prevention Coordinator, as well as Senior Environmental Auditor, at the Canadian Association for Surface Fishing. During her time there, she conducted over fifty pollution prevention and environmental compliance audits at metal fishing sites.
In 2004, Brigitte moved to WESA Group Inc., an environmental consulting company, as an Environmental Management System Specialist. Her focus with WESA Group was primarily to conduct compliance and management system audits at industrial and municipal drinking water sites, as well as to assist the implementation of management systems.
In 2008, she moved to the City of Guelph as a Quality Assurance Coordinator, where she managed multiple processes related to municipal drinking water licensing, risk assessment, emergency response plans, and compliance reporting.
Currently, Brigitte works as the Program Coordinator, Project and Program Management with the City of Guelph, as well as a Trainer with the Walkerton Clean Water Centre. She is also an alternate Community Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Guelph.
Brigitte is a certified Environmental Professional as an EMS Lead Auditor.
Manager, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo
Dana recognizes that change is rarely easy for anyone, especially for the solution-seeking homeowners, communities and businesses she works with to limit the effects of climate change. It is, however, often inevitable. “Purely ‘coping with change’ suggests to me that you ‘put up with’ change,” she says, “whereas ‘embracing change’ means that you have a mindset where you welcome change where it’s needed.” To Dana, change for its own sake rarely makes sense, but she advises that one should never shy away from it because it’s “different.”
Dana is excited to give back to current students at the University of Waterloo, and is happy to connect after the event via email.
To learn more about Dana's experience, click here.
Through her co-op experiences and career since graduation, Dana has sought opportunities that challenge her and lead to growth. She recognizes that change is often part of the process of learning to adapt.
As a co-op student, Dana gained extensive experience during her studies at the University of Waterloo in the Environment and Business program. Dana sought to travel with her co-ops to learn about new geographic places and experience different working environments. She worked as a photographer for a zip lining company in Whistler, BC, as a quality assurance technician for a tax company in Calgary, and as an assistant environmental technician for the federal government in Ottawa. For her last co-op, she worked with a professor at the University of Waterloo and continued as his research assistant for her final year of school, co-creating a carbon trading game that was used in undergraduate classes.
After graduation in 2013, Dana gained a wide range of experience in sustainable business operations, reporting and research across corporate, government and non-profit sectors. In 2014, she worked as Operations Coordinator with Sustainability CoLab for nine months, where she was the cornerstone of the company, performing a variety of functions that both enhanced capacity and increased efficiency. Her responsibilities included project management, social media and website content, recruitment of new volunteers and staff, and fundraising. Dana then moved on to become a Sustainability Analyst with Sun Life Financial, where she led the submission of sustainability rankings, including the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. She also conducted policy research, connected with employees on sustainability initiatives, and managed the internal sustainability website.
Currently, Dana is a Manager at the Intact Centre for Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, a national research centre that works with businesses, homeowners and communities to create solutions to limit the effects of extreme weather and climate change. In her day to day role she manages the Intact Centre’s operational functions (e.g. human resources, communications, finance and administrative functions), leads a research project on health and flooding, and provides research support for the Centre’s team members.
In her spare time, Dana is currently completing a Masters of Sustainability Management part time, and she organizes Meetup events for the LGBTQ community in Waterloo Region.
Since graduating in 2013, Delaney has spent a great deal of her time travelling throughout Europe and Asia, all the while developing new and exciting skills and experiences. In this way, she embraces change as the only constant. But, to Delaney, change can also be frustrating, agonizing, and scary. “Most important in these situations is being clear on why you’ve invited this change into your life,” she says. “Why is this important to you and what’s exciting about it?”
Delaney loves sharing her experiences in the hopes of helping others feel like their dreams are more accessible to them. As she is travelling at present, the best way to contact her would be through her email.
To read more about Delaney's experience, click here.
Delaney spent her last year at the University of Waterloo on exchange in Lyon, France, and spent the next three and a half months travelling through Spain, Turkey, Thailand and India. Though she hadn’t planned on returning to Canada so soon, she was offered a full time job at a company that she had interned with throughout her undergrad.
Delaney then spent three and a half years working as a designer at Overlap, a small design consultancy based in Kitchener. Her main focuses were design research and service design, which meant she spent most of her time speaking with people in order to understand how the services they needed could be improved. She also helped organizations better align their strategy with the needs of the people they served. She was able to learn a lot during her time with Overlap, and received a huge amount of opportunity to work with organizations at the local, provincial, and national levels.
After three and a half years, however, Delaney needed change. She has since been travelling through India, Nepal, and now Greece. She has been able to explore many of her passions and interests by completing a yoga teacher training course in India, a ten-day silent meditation course, and a six-day trek in Nepal.
She is most excited about her time in Greece, where she is spending three months on the island of Lesvos volunteering as the International Community Manager with the Office of Displaced Designers (ODD). ODD provides design education through skills sharing workshops to the refugee and local population on the island, in an effort to provide opportunities for professional development, community development, cultural understanding, and expression. Delaney helps ODD organize and run workshops, tell their story online, and understand the needs of the community on Lesvos.
Program Coordinator, Digital Innovation Skills Certificate (DISC), Nautilus Consulting
Throughout her career, Maria has happily embraced continual change through contract work. From internships to self-employed consulting, she has had many different experiences in the short time since graduating. In fact, change is a recurring, and in Maria’s opinion, a beneficial aspect in her life. “In my career, I’ve seen the continuous need to keep learning and to keep up with my network and have real conversations with mentors,” she says, “I think change is something we’re all coping with in the 21st century.”
To read more about Maria's experience, click here.
Maria began developing her career during her undergraduate studies as an Administrative Assistant with the University of Waterloo, where she delivered financial reports, drafted grant proposals, provided organizational support and served as an internal liaison with other University departments. During her master’s degree, Maria worked as an Assistant to Teaching Fellow, where her primary duties were to liaise with departments and faculties during promotional activities, maintain the faculty website and to create teaching and resource manuals for new faculty.
After graduation, Maria took on a contact job with the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation as the Project Development Intern. She then moved into the role of Energy Programs Coordinator with REEP Green Solutions, where she was tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the operation of the company’s energy services and outreach efforts.
After a little over a year with REEP, Maria moved onto self-employed tourism consultancy, where she partnered with organizations like Manulife Financial, the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, and the County of Oxford.
In September 2015, Maria became the Communications Coordinator at the Back to Nature Network, where she primarily planned, developed and implemented different web-based communication strategies and vehicles. She also recruited and engaged new members, managed databases and spreadsheets, and developed funding reports.
For the past three months, Maria has been the Program Coordinator for the Digital Innovation Skills Certificate (DISC) under her own sole proprietorship company, Nautilus Consulting.
Environmental, Health & Safety Canadian Technical Practice Lead, AECOM Canada Ltd.
Shannon has gained over ten years of experience in environmental health and safety since graduating from the Environment and Business program at the University of Waterloo. To Shannon, change is about taking calculated risks, being aware of the boundaries you can work within and what rules you can break based on your calculated risks. Coping with change requires being open to new possibilities and new ideas no matter how much they challenge the 'norm' or take you out of your comfort zone. Change needs to be measured over time to monitor its effectiveness.
Shannon is driven to give back to younger generations looking for mentors and contacts to get their careers started. She looks forward to working with new cohorts to understand strategies they apply to cope with change, which help her to continue to manage effectively in her own organization. She is happy to connect with students via LinkedIn.
To read more about Shannon's experience, click here.
When Shannon graduated from the Environment and Business program at the University of Waterloo, she was offered a job as an environmental consultant at Jacques Whitford, which was later purchased by Stantec Consulting.
Shannon worked at Stantec for eight years, where she specialized in environmental, health and safety auditing, regulatory applicability reviews, strategic planning, and development, implementation and maintenance of management systems, including ISO 14001 (2004 and 2015) and OHSAS 18001-compliant systems. Her principal focus was assisting clients in identifying and prioritizing their environmental, health & safety risks and implementing processes to minimize these risks while maximizing cost savings.
In 2014, Shannon moved to AECOM to perform similar work as an Environmental, Health and Safety consultant, as well as execute business and technical development as well as Project Management within the Canadian EHS team. AECOM is a multinational engineering firm that provides design, consulting, construction, and management services to a wide range of clients.
President, Premier Environmental Services Inc.
David is the founder and President of a successful nation-wide environmental science and engineering business, established in 2002. Before starting Premier Environmental Services Inc., David gained extensive experience in the environmental consulting industry and government across Canada.
“Change is an inevitable part of all life on Earth,” David says. “Coping with change is really coping with life, in my mind.”
David remembers being a first year student and encountering a variety of situations he didn’t really expect. He hopes to give back to the community that gave him a great start, and is excited to share his experience with current students. If you wish to follow up with David, give him a phone call or send him an email.
To read more about David's experience, click here.
David is the founder and president of a successful environmental science and engineering business, established in 2002. Premier Environmental Services Inc. provides environmental site assessments, soil and groundwater remediation, terrestrial and aquatic ecological services, asbestos and designated substances services, and risk assessments. Premier is based in Cambridge, with offices across Canada.
After graduating from the University of Waterloo in 1987, David started his career at Environment Canada at CCIW in Burlington, Ontario where he conducted research on the fate and persistence of PAHs in soil and groundwater. He believed it was a great place of make connections, but prefers a faster paced environment. He then moved into the world of environmental consulting where he worked for various engineering firms in Vancouver, Toronto and Kitchener. During this time, his main focus was contaminated site remediation, during a time where there was little to no guidelines in Ontario for the practice. Today, David works and lives in Cambridge, Ontario.
David is an advocate for the community, and believes volunteering is a great way to make a positive impact with others.
Manager of Service Coordination and Improvement in Finance and Corporate Services, City of Kitchener
Since graduating in 1991, Kathryn has built a career in the public service, focused largely on the municipal sector. She has enjoyed eight different roles in the same organization over 20 years, and is thus open and welcoming to change whenever it presents itself. To Kathryn, coping with change is “seeing the positives, the path through, and helping others to do the same,” while maintaining personal resiliency and “not losing sight of the bigger initiative’s goals.”
The opportunity to share ideas and have a two-way dialogue with current students is what really motivates Kathryn to participate in this Leadership Breakfast Series. She is excited to engage with people from a different demographic than herself, as well as share her own ideas and experiences.
To read more about Kathryn's experience, click here.
Kathryn has worked with the City of Kitchener for over 20 years, and has gained experience in eight different roles. She began her career in the Planning Division, first as a File Clerk/Records Analyst, and later as a Zoning Officer. After a few years she moved into a new role as an Economic Development Analyst. In this role, her main responsibilities included analyzing, interpreting and forecasting economic, demographic and other data to determine economic development trends. She also wrote and designed informational and marketing literature, and wrote trend reports.
After a couple of years, Kathryn developed an interest in corporate and organizational planning and moved to the position of Organizational Development Facilitator, where she was tasked with providing strategic and organizational planning support and consultation across the organization on a variety of projects. Kathryn stayed in this position for over seven years before transitioning into the role of Change/HR Integration Manager, where she became project lead for people integration and change management, associated with integrating and co-locating City workforces from five facilities into one.
For the past six years, Kathryn has been the Manager of Service Coordination and Improvement in the City’s Finance and Corporate Services Department. In this role, she has led the development and implementation of a five-year service strategy to provide direction and improvements for internal services. The role encompasses an ever-changing variety of challenging projects to benefit both City residents and employees. Two recent accomplishments include development of the City’s open government action plan, and a consistent, automated performance appraisal system for City management staff.
President, Abe Erb Brewing Co. & Settlement Co., Entrepreneur & Investor
Rob has a long history of successful entrepreneurship, from creating the Ryerson Academy private school, to opening his own brewery/pub and coffee roaster, Abe Erb Co. and Settlement Co., respectively. In spite of his successes, there are challenges that come with coping with change, which means learning to be comfortable with the unpredictable. “Automation and factoring is predictable,” Rob says, “the human element is more difficult.” Being a great boss, and learning to adjust his expectations as his employees grow and change, is a key challenge he is aspiring to overcome.
Rob is excited to hear and learn from students, and is happy to connect through LinkedIn.
To read more about Rob's experience, click here.
Rob, who began his career as a teacher with the Waterloo Region District School Board in 2000, began his entrepreneurial livelihood by founding the Ryerson Academy private school. He eventually grew the school to three separate locations with over 400 students before selling the business in 2006.
In January 2007, Rob broke into the food and beverage industry by establishing the first Cora’s restaurant, a popular breakfast and lunch diner, in Waterloo. He owned the restaurant for over six years before founding his own coffee roaster and eatery in Waterloo, Abe Erb Brewing Company and Settlement Co.
Rob hopes to combine authenticity and design with community engagement with Abe Erb Brewing Company and Settlement Co. He has since expanded his business into craft beer, which launched last year at the LCBO. He has since received the bronze level 2017 Canadian Brewing award for Abe Erb Brewing Company’s 1857 Kolsch-Style Lagered Ale, as well as three Ontario Beer Awards.
Rob is a judge for the Jack Rosen Memorial Competition for Environmental Innovation at the University of Waterloo, a Dragon’s Den-style pitch competition for environment students. He also sits on the Him & Her Studio Design board of Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as sits on the Business Improvement Area (BIA) committee for Uptown Waterloo and Downtown Kitchener.
Rob strives to make Abe Erb and Settlement Co. sustainable companies. They have many certified organic and fair trade products, and also owned their own grassroots farm for chickens and pigs.
Wendy de Gomez
Corporate Services Analyst, Waterloo Catholic District School Board
Since graduating from the University of Waterloo in 2011, Wendy has developed a wide range of skills through work experience and the completion of multiple certificate programs, which have given her an edge a competitive job market. To her, being prepared for the inevitability of changing circumstances is an important skill. “I have learned that adaptability is the key to success,” she says. “Each time you start something new, you learn and thus build up an ability to become resilient.” Wendy recognizes that change is the only constant in life, and the only thing to do is embrace it.
When Wendy encounters change, she deals with it by helping other people; giving herself “a purpose when the purpose of things may be unclear.” Her goal for this event is to help students know that, first and foremost, life is about change. She is happy to get in touch with students after the event through email.
To read more about Wendy's experience, click here.
When Wendy first graduated from the University of Waterloo, she decided to stay home with her newborn son for fifteen months before entering the work force so that she had as much time as possible with him. During this time, Wendy was able to co-publish an academic article called Civil Society in Canada with a University of Waterloo colleague. She also volunteered to help set up the Save the Bala Falls environmental movement.
Starting in 2011, Wendy worked on completing different certifications, including a Specialization Certificate in Population Health Data Analysis and multiple Certificates in Linear and Logistic Regression. She has now started working on the completion of a Certificate in Business Essentials.
Wendy currently works at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board as the Corporate Services Analyst. Her main responsibilities include updating partnership agreements and leases, assisting the Executive Assistant with workflows, and working within different corporate service departments to understand, document and recommend changes to business operations in order to enhance operational efficiencies. She is also currently an active volunteer with the St. Anne Catholic School Parent Council.
Please come back soon for more alumni profiles.