From Ottawa to India and back again
24 May 2019
Shormila Chatterjee| Director of Investment Development, Capital
When Shormila Chatterjee was seven years old, her family moved from Ottawa to India, where she lived until she started university. Her 10 years there proved formative to her future in infrastructure and engineering. She’d notice construction workers on the streets carrying baskets of bricks on their heads or standing on scaffolding made of bamboo, and admire their ingenuity in getting the job done, but puzzle over a better way. Add an inspiring high school physics teacher, and a solid dose of hard work, and you have a recipe for a successful career in infrastructure.
A self-confessed transit nerd, Shormila looks forward to the day she can tell her new daughter that her mom worked on the Confederation Line rail system in Ottawa, which she will hopefully take to school. She laughingly admits to making her husband take the train or bus when they travel—even if it’s completely impractical—because you get a better flavour of the area. Peru is her favourite recent travel experience. Machu Picchu was absolutely breathtaking, she says, but Lima’s vibrant food scene was totally unexpected and led to a week of delicious eats.
Even though she’s a planner by nature, her 12 years at SNC-Lavalin (she joined straight out of University of Toronto after getting her Bachelors in Applied Science) has grown into a career that is nothing like she planned, but exactly what she wants. Her 2019 Women’s Infrastructure Network Emerging Leader nomination is a testament to Shormila’s enthusiasm for her work—she’s worked on more than eight infrastructure P3 opportunities over the last six years, totalling over $8 billion CAD. Be vulnerable, she says, ask questions and really be willing to learn, because it leads to great relationships and opportunities, both professionally and personally.
Shormila in 6 takes:
Song: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
Place: Florida. “My family had a timeshare in Florida, so it was where I had my first trip when I was three months old, and we went to the same apartment every year when I was young. Lots of good memories.”
Structure: Confederation Bridge, PEI. “I went there for the first time two years ago, and the nerd in me very impressed with how it was built, and it happens to be in Canada. It’s beautiful on the bridge, and PEI is gorgeous. It’s a whole experience.”