Quin MacKenzie works in Vancouver, British Columbia as a Strategic Management Consultant for Stantec. In this position, she takes on many roles – from project manager, to professional facilitator – specializing in the sustainable development of complex, infrastructure projects that require multi-disciplinary teamwork. She has experience in facilitating planning and design projects across North America to enhance asset performance, specializing in the application of leading design frameworks such as Envision and the Integrated Design Process (IDP).
Quin holds a Master of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Economics with a certificate in Environmental Impact Assessment and has completed her Foundations in Public Participation certificate through the International Association for Public Participation.
ISI had an opportunity to connect with Quin to learn more about her work, and experience using Envision.
Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI): Quin, please tell us more about your current work and pursuits.
Quin MacKenzie (QM): I am currently leading the sustainable design process on the YVR CORE Program, a $500 million program at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) comprised of a number of projects focused on upgrading infrastructure capacity and improving resilience.
In addition to my current work on the YVR Core Program, I have consulted on the sustainable design for over a dozen projects across North America, including the newly awarded North Campus Infrastructure Renewal Project at the British Columbia Institute of Technology campus in Burnaby, British Columbia (Envision Gold); the Naples Bay Restoration at the Cove project in Naples, Florida (Envision Silver); the Atlanta Water Supply Program in Atlanta, Georgia (Envision Silver); and the Dixon Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements project in Dixon, California (Envision Silver).
I recently presented on the implementation of Envision and IDP at the Lean Construction Institute of Canada Conference in Montreal. I will also be delivering presentations and white papers on how to leverage Envision for large-scale projects at the upcoming Ecocity World Summit in Vancouver this October and at the American Society of Civil Engineers International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure in Los Angeles this November.
(ISI): What drew you to your field of work?
(QM): Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors and worked at a wilderness canoe camp when I was a teenager. I have always felt inspired by and connected to nature which is why I pursued a degree in environmental science and economics. After completing my degree, I realized that I wanted to help organizations integrate sustainability into their strategic visioning, project design and delivery, and long-term planning. This is one of the reasons I completed an MBA. Along the way, I learned about Envision and found a career that paired the best of both worlds. I think something that draws me to infrastructure projects specifically is the fact that these projects will be around for 50+ years. Being able to stimulate discussions around future uncertainties in order to generate innovative solutions is a powerful and rewarding component of my job.
(ISI): What has been your biggest career challenge?
(QM): My background and role are unique and not typical for a large engineering and design services firm. It hasn’t always been easy finding my niche within such a large organization, but I thrive in an environment where I can take on new challenges like these and overcome them.
Discovering the value that I add as a creative thinker and facilitator to highly technical project teams has been incredibly rewarding. Being able to work with integrated teams made up of people with diverse skillsets and experiences has proven to be incredibly valuable for me and my clients.
(ISI): What has been your proudest career moment thus far?
(QM): All the projects I have worked on have been incredible experiences, but the recent Envision verification of the BCIT North Campus Infrastructure Project is definitely one of my proudest career moments. Facilitating and supporting the collaborative Envision process and having the opportunity to work with an amazing team from BCIT, PCL, and Stantec led to numerous project successes, culminating in our Envision Gold award! It was such a rewarding experience to be involved in the Envision process from the beginning (from initial visioning, facilitation, to the integrated conceptual design) – to the end (from Envision submission, verification, to earning an award).
(ISI): How did you learn about Envision?
(QM): I joined the Sustainable Development team at Stantec in early 2014. Our group had the mandate to build Envision capacity within the company. I was excited by the framework and completed my ENV SP designation right away. Over the past five and a half years, I have worked on over a dozen projects, implementing Envision to help clients across North America enhance the performance, sustainability, and resilience of their infrastructure assets.
(ISI): How does Envision help you with your work?
(QM): I use Envision on a regular basis. A core part of my career has been working with clients on complex infrastructure projects to implement sustainable and strategic solutions, beginning with planning and design and carrying through construction. This is typically done through an integrated planning and design process, beginning with visioning and goal setting and continuing with targeted charrettes and workshops to leverage the expertise of different disciplines in a collaborative and creative setting. Envision is a great reference for all of the projects I work on, whether required from project onset, or introduced to the client by our team. Not every project I work on undergoes third-party verification but all of them benefit from referencing Envision to inspire innovative thinking and track project metrics to improve performance.
(ISI): Do you see infrastructure owners incorporating Envision into their overall strategic planning processes?
(QM): Yes, absolutely. I am currently working with several clients to build Envision into their strategic planning processes for infrastructure projects. This is really exciting because it allows us to build Envision language and targets into policies and planning documents; which will hopefully result in enhanced project performance and integration of sustainability across all different types of horizontal infrastructure projects. Doing this kind of work is very inspiring because I get to work with top-tier clients who genuinely want to raise the bar when it comes to sustainable development.
(ISI): What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?
(QM): Outside of work I pursue a wide variety of activities including painting and writing music, spending time outdoors, watching Star Trek reruns, volunteering in the community to help inspire young girls to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math discipline, and flying in small planes (see photo).
(ISI): What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
(QM): I am an audiophile with a collection of approximately 200 vinyl records that I still listen to on an old Audio-Technica turntable.