Integrated Water Management
Alumna Story — Dominique de Groot
“One year really can change everything,” says Dominique de Groot when reflecting on her experience in the MEL program. With fresh insight into both the technical and business aspects of water resource management, she’s bringing a holistic perspective to her environmental consulting career.
After completing an undergraduate degree at McGill in environmental science, Dominique spent several years working on construction and engineering projects across Western Canada, gaining experience in environmental compliance, program development, land reclamation, sediment and erosion control, and socioeconomic performance tracking.
Wanting to advance her career and transition to a new industry, she saw the Master of Engineering Leadership in Integrated Water Management as “the perfect blend of technical and management training” she was looking for. The duration of the program was also ideal. “The one-year length allowed me to balance my desire for further education with my desire to minimize interruption to my career,” she says.
An immersion in technical and management strategy
Dominique was one of the few students in the IWM program without an undergraduate degree in engineering, and she says her technical skills greatly improved over the course of the year. She also appreciated the program’s flexibility, with students able to select from a range of technical electives to create a program that reflected their specific interests in water resource management.
“However, the biggest strides I made during the program were in the growth of my leadership abilities,” she says. “The business and leadership acumen we were exposed to were key in helping me transition into a role with greater leadership responsibilities after graduation.”
Dominique is currently working as an environmental specialist with Greenbank Environmental; acting as the environmental representative for BC Hydro on the Ruskin Dam Upgrade Project. She’s also pursuing business development opportunities for the small consulting firm, saying that the business courses she took in the MEL gave her the confidence to take on this role and further reinforced her interest in the business side of consulting.
Building industry connections
Another reason Dominique chose the MEL was for the opportunity to grow her professional network in Vancouver. “UBC has a great international reputation and I was drawn to the local industry connections possible through involvement in the MEL program,” she says. “The university and faculty are well connected to industry leaders, so I was able to harness those connections and build my own local network.”
She says that program directors encouraged students to attend industry networking events, helping to connect with leaders in her field and other young professionals. “I’ve formed lasting relationships with my peers in the program and see them being part of my personal and professional network.”
A time of personal growth
Sometimes, taking a year away from your career can give you new insight, enabling you to chart the direction that will see you begin achieving your long-term goals.
“I always expected to take away a lot academically from the program, but I was surprised to find how much I grew personally during the short time at UBC. I’ve learned a lot about myself — about what I value and how I want to lead.”
“One year really can change everything,” she adds. “In five years, I definitely see myself in a role that leverages both the technical and leadership skills I gained in the MEL program while still focusing on the fields of environment and sustainability.”