– The Ontario Construction Report Special Feature
An initial interest in math and science made engineering a logical career choice for Barbara St. Aubin. Experience working in construction as a summer student during university cemented her interest in the industry. Today she is a project manager with Robinson Consultants Inc.
St. Aubin says that while her brother and cousin went into engineering around the same time she did, there was no family link to the industry; no common thread that brought them all to consider the career. “I got my Bachelor of Science and Civil Engineering followed by a Masters with a specialty in water resources but it was my summer experiences during university that made me sure this was what I wanted.”
Her first experience was as a pipeline inspector for a gas company. She says although the job sites were intimidating at first, working as part of a larger group of students, with guidance from a senior inspector and additional training from the company, she gained confidence and knowledge.She says, rather than discrimination, she received only encouragement and mentorship opportunities from others onsite. “It was during these early days that I learned the processes, what really happens in the workforce, and all of the basic skills I’d need to succeed.”
In her current role, St. Aubin manages a large portfolio with a number of small projects. This she says is both her greatest challenge and what she enjoys most. “I have to be able to prioritize and stay on top of multiple projects at the same time. It can be difficult at times but also means one day is very different from the next.”
St. Aubin has spent her 10-year career with Robinson. She says throughout her career the company has provided her with great opportunities, including progressively challenging projects that challenger her to develop her skills along the way. “They ensured I got the right project at the right time in my career and ensured I would succeed.”
Earlier this year, St. Aubin and her team were recognized with a Consulting Engineers of Ontario award for their work on the Hiawatha Park Road Culvert Replacement project.
She says Robinson has also provided opportunities for training, attendance at conferences and the chance to present papers, all of which have made her feel recognized and supported.
“I’ve never felt I was fighting for a place in my field or for respect. There are still very few women in this field but I don’t see why.”
St. Aubin says she absolutely recommends this as a career for other women for the opportunities, the challenges and the diversity it offers. “This is a great industry for options. Sometimes you have to move around and try different things until you find your niche but absolutely, dive in, move around, find what works for you.”