Engineering, People Spotlight, Transportation

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a project manager from our Transportation business line in Quebec, Canada. As this year marks Denis Thibeault’s 50th work anniversary with AECOM, we are taking a closer look at his career and what inspires him.

With 50 years of experience, particularly in road engineering and engineering structures, Denis’ passion, patience and determination have enabled him to mentor many young engineers throughout his career. When you meet him, his enthusiasm for his profession quickly becomes contagious, and he has been transferring his knowledge and passion for his work to others for decades.

In the last 30 years, Denis’ activities have focused exclusively on road infrastructure. In Quebec, he has been responsible for several projects relating to Highways 10, 15, 20 and 40 in Montreal, and Highways 20 and 85 in eastern Quebec.

Tell us about what inspired you to join AECOM and stay?

I was already working for a company, but I decided to join AECOM and I chose to stay. It was a conscious choice because I believed AECOM was my future. There were several moments throughout my career that solidified my desire to stay with the company, such as the way new employees were treated with respect during their integration phase, the increased opportunities for a career in engineering and the continued support of colleagues in the Quebec City and Montreal offices in all the fields involved in my road projects.

I still share the same sentiment since I’m still here and have agreed to extend my mandate as an advisor for one of my current projects on Highway 85, a 100 km stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway linking Highway 20 (Rivière du Loup) to the New Brunswick border. This project is nearing completion (2025) of its Phase 3. AECOM has contributed to this project in various ways since 2002 as designer and construction supervisor for several sections, including environmental studies.

My 50 years with the company show that I believed and still believe that it is possible to have a long and successful career with AECOM. This great company operates around the world and offers many career opportunities.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

It goes without saying that in my 50-year career, I have worked on many interesting projects. The type of project was not so much what mattered the most to me, but rather the colleagues with whom I got to collaborate with, since team spirit is very important to me. I have enjoyed participating in all these projects throughout the years, whether in the field of hydraulics, hydroelectricity, urban engineering and, for the last 30 years, road engineering more specifically.

I would identify the projects related to the first road interchanges carried out in parallel on Highway 20 in the Montreal area for the municipalities of Baie D’Urfé and Beaconsfield as decisive mandates because they helped shape my career. The Morgan and Woodland interchanges and the modernization of commuter trains in the Montreal metropolitan area gave me the opportunity to start building my name in the industry and launched my career in road engineering.

The teamwork and collaboration involved in these two projects allowed us to win these two mandates in the first place and to meet the expectations of the client, the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec. It’s important to also believe in our abilities, together we can achieve great things.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

AECOM’s purpose is to deliver a world where infrastructure creates opportunity for everyone—uplifting communities, improving access and sustaining our planet. In the context of road networks, safety is crucial. The primary benefit is improved mobility of people and goods but ensuring both the mobility and safety of road users while respecting the surrounding environment is the key positive aspect of this type of work. The mitigation measures implemented ensure people are compensated for their losses or damages.

The Réseau express métropolitain (REM) is an automated light rail system with 26 universally accessible stations across Greater Montreal.  When it opens, it will significantly enhance sustainable mobility in the greater Montreal area. Through interconnection with bus systems, commuter trains and the Montreal metro, it will help reduce congestion and reduce GHG emissions to help accelerate Quebec’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

My role consisted of reconfiguring the profile of the carriageways that crossed the railway tracks at the level of crossing to increase the safety of road users.

This goes in line with AECOM’s Sustainable Legacies (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy.

Based on your experience working here for the past 50 years, how has AECOM’s work in Transportation transformed to deliver a better world?

At the beginning of my career, we used to assess and deliver projects based primarily on the following criteria: project objective, schedule and costs. Today, our clients ask us to consider the impact on the environment, how to minimize it and what mitigation measures to propose. The company has been able to respond to those concerns by considering the environmental factor and involving specialized teams in all the phases of a project.

Share a piece of career advice.

Always be proud of your accomplishments no matter how small they may seem at first in a large company like AECOM. At the beginning of your career, these small projects are mainly about developing your skills, gaining insight and control over your projects. At AECOM, colleagues and specialists can advise you, answer your questions and help you make informed decisions about the problems you encounter or need to solve. You can also work on larger projects if that is your ambition. The company offers you great possibilities and many opportunities.

Finally, I would like to thank all my colleagues, as they have allowed me to be who I am and provided encouragement for my professional development. Their support made it possible for me to now complete 50 years at AECOM.

Originally published Jul 27, 2023

Author: Denis Thibeault