"Follow your passion, don’t place any limitations on yourself, anything is possible! Dare to embrace your ambitions and have the courage to listen to your instincts!"
- MYRIAM HOTTE, Eng. Partner/Senior Director/Operations Management, CIMA+
To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day, what could be better than presenting inspirational role models and leaders in their field to spark interest among the next generations. To mark this important day, two engineers who work on the North Shore took the time to discuss the engineering profession. Myriam Hotte, Engineer and Partner at CIMA+, met up with Marie-Josée Maltais, Civil Engineer, Infrastructure Support BOGC, H-Q Production — Manicouagan.
Myriam: Why did you choose a career in engineering?:
Marie-Josée: Mostly because I felt that engineering would open doors to a number of aspects that were of interest to me, and that you can access a variety of disciplines within the same field. For example, I saw that you can be involved in design, working in the field, supervision and maybe even project management. It seemed like this career would open a lot of doors and that it would be up to me, based on the experience I acquired during my career, to choose the direction that best suited me based on my strengths and interests. That’s really why I chose engineering.
In addition, no matter which discipline you choose, it’s a career in which you face many issues, and it’s always a challenge, a puzzle that you have to find a solution for. That really motivates me.
Myriam: You make a good point, because in a single field of study, there are many different duties and tasks. Even if you choose one, you can always move to another one during your career. Your choices are not limited. For example, you can move from design to project management if you want.
Marie-Josée: There are so many possibilities.
Myriam: For me, I love to solve problems and find solutions. I have always been interested in science, and I’m fascinated by what we can accomplish in terms of innovation. The engineering profession allows me to put my knowledge into practice and transform it into concrete achievements. What part of your work are you most passionate about?
Marie-Josée: What really piques my interest is when we encounter problems that are difficult to tackle. They require the involvement of a number of other disciplines – multidisciplinary projects that can only be executed with the collaboration of other colleagues and stakeholders, people from outside the company. Pooling everyone’s skills and strengths to find a solution to a problem is what I am most passionate about.
Myriam: I echo those sentiments. What I am most passionate about in my work is when the team works together, the diversity of knowledge that we can bring to bear for the benefit of our clients. I enjoy the concrete participation in developing infrastructure assets at the heart of my community. There is a multitude of possibilities. Each engineer finds their niche and their place based on their specific strengths. An engineer can be a project manager, designer, administrator, entrepreneur, or anything else they choose.
You know, Marie-Josée, from having worked with you, I know that you enjoy managing projects, bringing people together and guiding then toward a solution. That is your passion, right? You get to use your exceptional social skills, especially in terms of communicating ideas and listening.
Marie-Josée: Absolutely! That is my niche, and my strength – identifying the problem and the stakeholders who should be involved in the analysis, establishing a schedule to follow, painting a global portrait of the situation.
Myriam: Making the project a reality, putting together all of the right ingredients so that the recipe is successful!
Myriam: What advice would you give to young women who are still hesitant about their career choice? I’m asking you because I asked myself the same question when I was in high school and college. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. It took me some time to decide.
Marie-Josée: I wish someone would have said to me: “Think about what you would like to do. Don’t listen to what others around you say that might seem negative”. When I look back, people were saying not to choose civil engineering because employment perspectives were less robust in this field because of the economic situation. I listened to myself, and I don’t regret it, because I now know that I made the right choice. It’s important to not put barriers in your own way, like telling yourself that you don’t have what it takes to make it in this profession, for example. You can learn to do anything in life if you work hard, and there’s always a way to get to where you want to go. It’s more important to ask where you can have a positive influence.
Myriam: I would tell them not to have preconceived notions of a profession, especially based on gender. We are in 2021, and gender should have no effect on your career choice! Follow your passion, don’t place any limitations on yourself, anything is possible! Dare to embrace your ambitions and have the courage to listen to your instincts!
About Myriam Hotte
Myriam holds a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from Université Laval and a University Certificate in Corporate Governance from Collège des administrateurs. She has acquired 16 years of experience as an Engineer in the consulting engineering field. Her experience in managing multidisciplinary projects for industrial clients and her leadership have been crucial assets in executing numerous projects, especially on behalf of various municipalities on the North Shore.
About Marie-Josée Maltais
Marie-Josée holds a Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from UQAC, and is currently a Civil Engineer at Hydro-Québec in the Dams and Infrastructure Expertise directorate. Her team is responsible for assessing the condition of infrastructure assets and dams belonging to the generating fleet.