News & Events

Guest Speaker Series: Melina Scholefield on Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy

March 22, 2021
UBC MEL MHLP - Guest Speaker 2021 - Melina

On Tuesday, March 9, Melina Scholefield, P. Eng., Manager of Green Infrastructure Implementation at the City of Vancouver, hosted a seminar for UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) students. Her presentation focused on what she has learned in her experience implementing Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy. This seminar was particularly interesting and educational for our MEL in Integrated Water Management and MEL in Urban Systems students, who had an opportunity to connect with and learn from an influential industry leader in sustainable water planning and management.

Practicing Transformative Leadership in Green Infrastructure

In her more than two decades of public and private sector experience, Scholefield has demonstrated a long-standing dedication to sustainability and innovation in the municipal sector, as well as a keen understanding of the importance of cross-disciplinary cooperation and collaboration.

Scholefield is a transformative leader in sustainability. She prioritizes people and purpose and fosters collaboration, innovation and actions in the workplace to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and protect and enhance the environment.

As a testament to her success, she is the proud recipient of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association Water Steward of the Year Award for 2020.

Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy

The City of Vancouver recognized the need for a paradigm shift in how it planned and managed water systems. The challenge was to effectively respond and adapt to climate change, provide reliable services to our communities, to protect the environment and our natural systems, and to embed holistic water management as a foundation for city planning.

In an effort to meet this challenge, Vancouver underwent an organization transformation in 2018, adopting a new city-wide approach (“One Water”) for integrated water resource planning. Further, City Council adopted the Rain City Strategy in 2019 to formalize this shift. This new strategy is a cross-departmental green rainwater infrastructure and urban rainwater management initiative.

Scholefield and her team are currently leading this ambitious and multi-award-winning Rain City Strategy. However, its implementation is not without complexity, and success in the coming decade is critical to enable the city to embark on a path for resilience, equity, and sustainability through water.

In her presentation, Scholefield ruminated on the lessons she learned when collaborating and engaging with other professionals and departments and driving positive long-term change in her organization.

Things to consider when generating change and creating success

Scholefield highlighted a number of tips for our MEL cohort to consider as they look forward to future positions as industry leaders.

When striving to shift mindsets and drive cultural change:

  • Accept that change management is an ongoing and never-ending process,
  • Offer support to your change agents
  • Focus on aligning values in order to move forward
  • Seek support from senior leadership, as they are critical to achieving genuine change

When attempting to enable collaborative approaches to planning and implementation:

  • Create governance structures to guide planning and implementation,
  • Make good use of initial resources to kick-start learning and innovation prior to implementation
  • Ensure that organizational objectives are aligned with action plan priorities

When utilizing and mobilizing internal and external support systems:

  • Locate and nurture your strongest supporters and allies
  • Foster a culture of collaboration within the workplace

When creating an innovative workplace as an industry leader:

  • Invest in education, capacity building and partnerships
  • Create space for learning, exploration, and relationship building,
  • Celebrate and empower partners that drive change
  • Reciprocate efforts in supporting your supporters in mutual professional partnerships

UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership students are future industry leaders. This seminar highlighted the importance of developing the skill to positively engage in collaborative teams and achieve success in transformative change. Scholefield’s tips and guidelines regarding transformative leadership and meaningful collaboration enable MEL graduates to better tackle challenges and create positive change within their future careers.

Are you ready to become a change-maker in your field? Explore UBC’s Master of Engineering Leadership and how it prepares you to become a leader in your industry.