Meet Jeannette Montufar: Profile of a TAC Volunteer

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

This article is part of a series profiling some of TAC’s volunteers. Learn more about TAC’s volunteer structure, the role of volunteers and the benefits of volunteering.

Introducing Jeannette Montufar – a TAC volunteer and Principal and Founding Partner of MORR Transportation Consulting Ltd. She has received numerous national and international awards for her contribution to transportation engineering, as well as for her community service.

TAC: Tell us about yourself!

JM: I am founding partner and CEO of MORR Transportation consulting, a Winnipeg-based company that provides specialized services in road safety, active transportation, freight systems, and traffic monitoring. I founded the company in 1997 as Montufar & Associates, when I was completing my PhD at the University of Manitoba and operated it as a sole proprietor until 2011, when I invited two of my former PhD students to join as partners.

I have a daughter and two puppies. My daughter is 20 years old and she is studying Economics at the University of Manitoba.

I enjoy doing things that allow me to spend time with myself, so, in my free time I like to do pottery and have recently started experimenting with carpentry. I am soon discovering that you can save yourself lots of money if you do your own carpentry! I also really enjoy bike riding, and in the summer I spend a lot of time on my road bike (although last summer was different due to COVID).

In 2013 I completed a 500-km pilgrimage in Spain of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela to raise awareness about the importance of education in the lives of women.

TAC: What led you to a career in the transportation sector?

JM: I was finishing third year engineering when I learned about the impact that transportation can have on the quality of life of people. We had a guest lecturer who had just returned from Africa, where she was collecting data for her M.Sc. thesis and gave us a presentation about her project. At the time, I was working on my undergraduate thesis - in water resources! After the presentation by this graduate student, I knew that I wanted to go into transportation so I got all the courage I could get to tell my advisor that I would not be completing my thesis with her. I completed a thesis on public transportation instead, with one of the transportation professors. The rest is history.

My current job is as CEO of a small but highly specialized consulting firm in Winnipeg. I was also professor in Civil Engineering at the University of Manitoba for nearly 15 years, during which time I published over 250 technical papers and reports on various transportation engineering topics and supervised over 40 graduate students. This was a dream job for me as one of my lifelong passions has been mentoring young people and helping them reach their full potential.

I have always been very committed to education and lifelong learning. In 2013 I founded the Hummingbird Education Fund to provide financial assistance to underprivileged women who want to pursue post-secondary education in STEM. For six years I worked to raise enough capital to make the fund sustainable and I was thrilled to learn last month that this year will be the first that the award will be given!

TAC: What professional achievement are you most proud of? 

JM: I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to influence the transportation field through my work as an academic and through the work of my graduate students. I think I am most proud of the impact I’ve had on transportation engineering education since I played a role in the training and development of some of today’s leaders in transportation.

TAC: Tell us about your history as a TAC volunteer.

JM: I’ve had a long history with TAC. I was introduced to TAC by my graduate studies advisor when I was completing my M.Sc. in transportation. The first involvement I had was attending the conference in 1996. I started volunteering as a graduate student the following year and as time progressed, my level of involvement grew, along with the responsibilities associated with it. Over the last 24 years, I have been member of most committees under the former Chief Engineers Council, have led several working groups, have participated in volunteer technical projects, and have chaired the scholarship committee of the Foundation. I am currently vice chair of the Technology Council and board member of the TAC Foundation.

TAC: How has volunteering with TAC helped you?

JM: Volunteering has certainly increased my professional profile among TAC members and has helped me grow professionally. I have also received several awards because of, among other things, my service to the profession, and have seen my company’s profile grow as a national transportation service provider.

I think the best thing about being a TAC volunteer has been the level of influence I have had in shaping Canada’s transportation system. I know that volunteering produces a ripple effect resulting from the things we do, say, share, or explore. I think being part of TAC for all these years has placed me in a unique position to effect positive change in our field.

TAC: Tell us about a challenge that you would like to help solve.  

JM: A challenge I would like to help solve is the equity, diversity, and inclusion gap that currently exists within large professional organizations, large private companies, public agencies, and others, at the senior level. After 25 years in engineering, I cannot help but always notice the lack of diversity that exists on many boards or at the senior management level of most entities. While I know some are actively implementing changes to better reflect EDI values, others may only be paying lip service. I think we can accelerate this change and make it a priority.

TAC: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the transportation sector?

JM: My firm operates following these core values:

  • Pursuit of Excellence
  • Integrity and Honesty
  • Innovation and Creative Thinking
  • Social Justice

I think that as a young engineering graduate in transportation, you can never go wrong by never compromising quality, integrity, and honesty; bringing innovation and creativity into what you do; and making sure that you treat people fairly and with respect.