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Second this! Rhona pushes innovation in Montreal

Rhona tells us about her whirlwind decision to go on secondment in Canada. So far it’s been packed with breathtaking new experiences, satisfying challenges on a mega project, and snow. Plenty of snow…

My secondment opportunity arose last year when Andrew Benson, the Practice Director for Ground Engineering in the UK, visited Canada. SNC-Lavalin was in the running for the Réseau Express Métropolitain, a new light rail comprising 26 stations and 67 km of track. If we were successful in our bid, the team would need a French-speaking design manager to help deliver the geotechnical detailed design.
 
SNC-Lavalin won the project in February. I was offered the opportunity to work on a mega project, be part of a design team, experience life in another country, and improve my French — it was a no brainer. Six days later, I was in Canada!

So far I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here — even though the weather was a little daunting at first. On the positive side, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the Montréal Canadiens hockey team from the SNC-Lavalin box. I’ve tried ‘fat biking’ on the famous Mont Royal and enjoyed the even more famous smoked meat at Schwartz’s deli.


 

Working on this type of project is fast-paced and exciting, and has allowed me to really push myself as an engineer, particularly when learning new codes, standards and practices. What’s more, the first language in Montréal is French, so I’ve been able to practice daily — particularly as the client requires all documents, including reports, drawings, and specifications in French. The team here has been super friendly and supportive, helping me to settle into Canadian life and learn the language.
 
If you had asked me a few years ago, I would never have thought I’d work in another country and definitely not in another language! The ability to be mobile and to move to such an exciting and diverse city whilst maintaining links to the UK has meant that I still feel connected to my team in the UK, and now have new colleagues in my team here in Canada. I feel my career and experience has been greatly enhanced already by this opportunity and would recommend the experience to everyone.

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