SLR Canada Celebrates A Week of International Women's Day - Featuring Mel Hamilton

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Marketing - Canada
Vancouver, BC

(Part 3 of 4 - Mini Blog Series)
Our third featured woman for our week long celebration of International Women's Day is Mel Hamilton who is an Environmental Engineer and Land Quality and Remediation Team Lead, that works out of our Calgary, Alberta office. She has 16 years of experience in environmental site assessment, environmental monitoring, risk management, remediation, and risk assessment, having worked as a project manager, technical project lead, and field technician. She is experienced at developing conceptual site models for contaminated sites and human health and ecological risk assessment modeling.

Mel is very active in the environmental consulting industry as she has attended various conferences and seminars like ECO Impact 2020 and EnviroTech 2019. As a registered P.Eng in Alberta, she regularly attends events held by Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). Currently, she is working on developing a Women’s Committee for SLR in Canada.

Outside of the office she a dedicated mother to her two kids (aged 4 and 8), and volunteers at their schools whenever she can. Her hobbies include enjoying nature with her family, running and skiing. She also enjoys researching new technologies and has a very strong interest in artificial intelligence.

We had an opportunity to ask Mel some questions to get a bit more insight into her motivations and achievements:

What are your unique achievements in and/or out of your field of work?
I am fortunate to have such an interesting career, which has included many unique achievements. In my younger years, my biggest accomplishment was managing the remediation of a creek in southern Saskatchewan that was contaminated with metals from a historical battery spill. It was a beautiful site and very complex project, involving species at risk, diversion of the creek, onsite screening for metals concentrations in sediment, creek restoration, and an ecological risk assessment. In more recent years, my biggest accomplishment has been growing the Land Quality Team in SLR’s Calgary office. In the past 22 months, I have secured work with new clients and successfully hired 6 new staff. Outside of work, my biggest achievement has been (and continues to be!) raising my kids and specifically fostering their love and appreciation for nature and the outdoors.

What made you decided to get into your profession?
When I was around 15 years old I told my parents that I wanted to be an Environmental Engineer. I don’t think I really knew what that meant at the time (something to do with waste water or landfills). From there, I got a degree in Civil Engineering hoping to reach my goal of becoming an Environmental Engineer. My first few jobs were in structural and water resource engineering, but I knew these were not my interests. My very first job in environmental engineering was doing field work on contaminated sites and I knew right away that it was exactly what I wanted to do. I really enjoyed doing field work, and especially cleaning up contaminated sites. I have been working on contaminated sites for 16 years, although now my focus is on staff and client development.

In your point of view describe the current climate for females in STEM and what you hope the future would look like for women 5 years from now.
At the moment, women are underrepresented in the STEM workforce. This will change in time as more women are studying STEM at the post-secondary level and seeking careers in STEM. Personally, I hope to see more women in senior roles across the industry 5 years from now. I believe that women in senior roles can help to make the changes needed to promote equality in our industry. I also believe that more women will join the STEM workforce if they see women in senior roles and see the industry as a diverse and inclusive place to work.

What advice would you give aspiring young girls looking to get into work in STEM?
Now is a great time for anyone (men and women alike) to join the STEM workforce, especially in this ever-changing and fast-paced world that we live in! My advice to anyone is to work hard, be honest, and be yourself to make the most of your career. For young girls looking to get into the STEM workforce, I would say “stay true to yourself”.

In the spirit of this year's theme of #EachforEqual/Equality, what does equality mean to you?
Gender equality to me means no discrimination based on gender in any aspect of life. Equality to me means equal quality of life for men and women around the globe. At the moment, in Canada, I believe there is a lot more work that needs to be done for gender equality.