| AWWA Member Spotlight – Amy Winchester, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Amy Winchester, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Amy WinchesterJob title and employer: Senior Chemical Engineer, CBCL Limited

Education: BSc. Chemical Engineering, University of New Brunswick; M.A.Sc., Chemical/Environmental Engineering, University of Ottawa 

Job duties: Mentoring, project management, team building, professional development, technical lead, business development

What drew you to a career in the water sector? In junior high, I did a science project on the water cycle. My uncle, Bill Butler, was a civil engineer responsible for the water system in the City of Saint John. I had no idea how much was involved in getting potable water to my tap, nor did I realize what happens when I flush! I was fascinated by the integration of the natural water cycle with serving our basic needs. This is where I was drawn to the concept of process engineering. Water connects all of us, regardless of our geography or social demographic.

Amy Winchester with familyWhat is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your 20+ year career? Finding balance between my home life and work life as well as managing my expectations of myself as a mom and a professional engineer. I was fortunate, early in my career, to have the opportunity to work part-time so I could focus on my children and home life while developing professionally and technically. (Pictured right, Winchester with children Leah, Amy, Jack, Sarah and dog, George)

What changes in diversity have you seen in the sector over that time? More and more, I see the industry changing and acknowledging the importance of a diverse workforce. More recently I find the recognition of diversity expanding beyond physical to include diversity of thought, personality, and how works gets planned, performed and evaluated. I have also seen a rise in the appreciation of empathy in the industry.

CBCL's dragon boat teamWhat advice would you give women aspiring to leadership in the water sector? Meet people, learn about what got them to today, understand how they work. Understand there are a variety of ways to get to the same place and be sure to respect those around you. Have confidence in what you do. Be patient, but also respectfully persistent. (Pictured left, CBCL's winning dragon boat team)
What suggestions do you have for organizations wanting to advance their diversity? Learn about your employees and what motivates them. Create respectful workplaces. Listen to your workforce and don’t make assumptions about what you think is best for them or what you think they want/need.

How have you benefited from your involvement with AWWA and the Atlantic Canada Section? Getting involved with my local Atlantic Canada Section (ATC) has had a significant positive impact on my career and professional development. I was warmly welcomed to my first meeting in 2006 by Willard D’Eon (former CBCL colleague) and Clara Shea (ATC executive director). Their commitment to our association, membership and the water sector was contagious. I have also had the opportunity to meet other AWWA staff and volunteers at Membership Summits in Denver and at a Regional Meeting of Section Officers in New Hampshire. ATC provides a trusted and reliable forum, online and in person, to meet colleagues and friends with similar interests, work on similar projects, experience similar struggles. I truly look forward to every meeting and conference that I attend where I can catch up with friends around Atlantic Canada in the water sector. (She is a past Chair and Director with the Atlantic Canada Section)
Amy with dogPlease describe your family and/or hobbies and interests: I’m fortunate to spend lots of time with my immediate and extended family. My teens are busy with activities and jobs, and I enjoy driving them around and watching them do what they love. I also love hiking with my friends and Goldendoodle. When I do get free time, I adore theater, both as part of the cast, team or in the audience. (Pictured right, Amy hiking with George)

Anything else you’d like to add? My current volunteer work is with the Canadian Water & Wastewater Association (vice chair of the Climate Change Committee) and the Atlantic Infrastructure Management Network (planning committee, Atlantic Asset Management conference).

(Photos courtesy of Amy Winchester)