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Meet Kathryn Whalley

Posted by Attrax Administrator
Posting date:3/24/2021 2:01 PM
As part of our #PeopleDriveResults campaign, this week we have caught up with Kathryn Whalley, Team Lead Project Support Office, based in Australia.

Learning new skills: from Accountant to EDPM Project Support

When Kathryn Whalley joined SNC-Lavalin as a talented Chartered Professional Accountant, she brought a wealth of transferable skills and was keen to develop new ones. Today, Kathryn is the project support person for SNC-Lavalin’s Engineering, Design & Project Management (EDPM) team in Australia. As the backbone of her team, she assists with every project; from forecasting to opening and closing jobs to monthly financial reviews and various day-to-day activities.

How did you come to work at the organization?

I first joined SNC-Lavalin’s Oil & Gas business unit in Perth back in 2015. I always wanted to move to Melbourne, so when I had the opportunity to transfer to the EDPM business unit, I put my hand up and was offered a position.

My first role was to help the then-legacy business migrate finance systems, time booking and project reporting. We successfully completed the migration in March 2019. It was a rewarding and complex journey!

How did your involvement in the migration challenge you?

It sharpened my ability to preform under pressure. I had to work hard to get the job done without letting emotions get in the way when I felt tired and stressed. I learned that I can only do so much with the time I had. I feel that my wellbeing is important at work.

How did this job change you as a person?

I feel that I’ve improved my interpersonal skills and ability to interact. I provided a lot of teaching sessions to get the team up to speed on the new systems. This was the first-time I’ve training colleagues online.

How have you grown professionally since being at the organization?

I’ve grown by helping to steer the legacy Rail & Transit business unit in Australia through the migration, whichhas been my biggest career highlight at SNC-Lavalin. Along the journey, I’ve met a lot of different people and getting to know my colleagues helped make my next role much easier. My aim is to keep learning and developing professionally in the coming months and years. I feel the opportunities are more diverse as an accountant in the engineering industry.

What new skills have you learned?

I'm working with a U.K. project team to deliver new IT software for Project Managers. It's an innovation that helps us gain a multi-perspective view of our projects, with visuals that represent different findings and insights from the data. It's one of the exciting ways we can make a difference, supporting the team to make quicker, more informed decisions.

Have you experienced any challenges as a woman since you've been at SNC-Lavalin?

I have not felt or faced anything that would make me think my role was harder because I am a woman. My managers have been incredibly supportive. I feel respected and able to be myself. At our company, you don't have to be someone you are not to try and fit in.

How do you feel about SNC-Lavalin’s efforts to support Equality & Diversity?

It’s continually trying to change attitudes and that's what it will take to make it work! Being treated equally resolves a lot of problems. I can honestly say I have not experienced or seen any barriers since working with SNC-Lavalin, regardless of the teams I worked for.

On a larger scale, it can be harder for women in the industry for different reasons. Until society champions diversity and acceptance, women will continue to face challenges. My advice to women is to call out biased behaviour when it happens. Make it clear from the start that this is not acceptable and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Raise concerns and start conversations to voice anything that is causing you to act or perform in a different way.

What keeps you at SNC-Lavalin?

I really enjoy my role in supporting the project team and I’m eager to learn new skills and grow further. I’m confident the business will support me in that.

What advice would you have for young woman at the organization who want to take on challenging positions and progress their careers quickly?

Let your work speak for itself. Work the best way you know how and be upfront with what your objectives are and where you want to grow. Good work will be rewarded with respect and opportunities.

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