Zoe Redford, CIMA Canada Inc.

Why did you choose to go into consulting?

Consulting appealed to me because the consulting team gets to be on the innovative, decision-making side of a project. In consulting you learn the ins and outs of design. Instead of focusing on high-level project decisions like an owner might, a consultant gets to dig into the details and get creative with solutions. I wanted to be involved in the open-ended aspect of a project and have the freedom to think outside the box.

Tell us about your job. What do you do?

I am a Transportation Planning engineer, with a focus on highways. Highway planning typically involves long-range traffic forecasting and high-level preparation of designs for roadways throughout the province. Sometimes my projects are only a couple of years away from construction, while other times the plans are 30 years away from implementation! Part of these projects is investigating and presenting alternative options for the roadway to the client and eventually narrowing options down to a recommended plan. I have also been involved in design and tender projects, which has proven to be a pleasant balance to the "out-of-reach" planning projects I'm a part of.

What’s an exciting project that you’re working on?

For the past year, my focus has been on the Yellowhead Trail Freeway Conversion Program in Edmonton. CIMA+ is working on a segment of Yellowhead Trail from 156 Street to St. Albert Trail, which will be the second freeway segment to enter into the construction phase. As a lifetime resident of West-Central Edmonton, this section of the Yellowhead Trail has been very heavily traveled by me, so I feel incredibly lucky to be on the team who's driving the improvements and reshaping of this segment. This Freeway Conversion Program will have a significant positive impact on the City's transportation network and subsequently on its residents.

What’s your favourite thing about working in consulting?

I really appreciate the way consulting highlights the power of the "Team". One sole consultant may not have the expertise to design every aspect of a project. When we amalgamate different groups into an overall team, each discipline of the project can then be led with the highest professionalism, producing an end result of excellent quality. On top of this, teaming up with other disciplines and professions is a fantastic opportunity to learn about areas other than your own and sometimes expand your repertoire in unexpected ways.

What skills and personal qualities have been instrumental in the success you have achieved in consulting?

Communication! The most important skill I have developed is proactive, clear, shameless communication. Firstly, being proactive in inquiries, responses and follow-ups is vital to project health. Getting ahead of questions and concerns will avoid lag and subsequent schedule delay and cost to the project. Secondly, be clear in your requests and instructions, leave no room for interpretation. Don't hesitate to make a call to ensure that you are understanding or being understood clearly. Lastly, be shameless. Never be afraid to speak up if you notice an issue or have a question. A team works best when everyone adds their unique thoughts and perspectives to the table. All these aspects of communication can also serve to bolster relationships with clients and subconsultants.


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