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 Shauna Lehmann; TAC volunteer, Director of Environment at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, and a woman of many, many hobbies. We interviewed her about her experience as a TAC volunteer and working in the transportation sector.
SL: I am the Director of Environment at the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure in Saskatoon and have filled various roles with the organization for over 15 years. I also worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota for three years as a project engineer with an environmental consulting firm. My husband and I, both engineers with the Ministry, have been married for 18 years.
I enjoy many hobbies, including urban sketching and creating art journals while I travel, singing karaoke as part of a competitive league, learning to belly dance and, most recently, spending time tending indoor hydroponic vegetable and herb gardens.
In whatever free time I have available I enjoy volunteering in my community. I am currently an instructor and marketing director for the Saskatoon Christopher Leadership Courses (clcnational.com) and participate on the Board of Directors for the Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council.
SL: To be honest, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to follow when I finished high school. Though I did well in school, I actually didn’t enjoy math or science at the time, so I considered pursuing arts or psychology. A scholarship opportunity came up in my last year of high school to receive guaranteed summer employment with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure if I pursued an engineering degree. I applied and received the scholarship, and promptly registered as a student in Environmental Systems Engineering at the University of Regina. The Ministry has been such a great organization to work for, providing unique opportunities across many disciplines. I have been a transportation planner, roadway preservation engineer, technical writer and researcher, and construction project manager prior to moving into the environmental area.
SL: In recent years I have identified opportunities for environmental improvements in some of the work that we do, and have developed the confidence to share my ideas and express my interest in pursuing various environmental protection initiatives. In a recent structural reorganization, an opportunity came up to become the Director of a newly-formed Environmental Unit within the Ministry. I am proud of myself for stepping out of the technical and scientific comfort zone that I had established for myself, and taking on the challenge of leadership. I hadn’t seen myself pursuing a Director role, but have found out that my skills in relationship-building, empathy, and adaptability are serving me well in my new role.
SL: I started volunteering with TAC at the 2011 conference in Fredericton, NB on the environment-associated committees and councils. Since joining TAC I have also participated outside of the Environmental committees, particularly spending time with the Construction and Maintenance groups to understand their perspectives and form connections. I have had the pleasure of serving on committee and council Executives, participating in Chief Engineers meetings, providing input directly to the TAC organization through town halls and candid conversations, and receiving a Volunteer award.
SL: Becoming involved and meeting my counterparts from across the country through TAC has been immensely beneficial for my work, and for professional development. Learning from the experiences and expertise of others has been crucial for my role, as we share the same environmental and legislative challenges in an industry that needs to balance environmental protection with infrastructure and economic development. Connections made through TAC have made it easy to conduct jurisdictional research and more thoroughly understand often-changing regulatory frameworks. From a personal and professional development perspective, I have gained a great deal of confidence that has served me well in all areas of my life.
SL: A challenge often faced in the environment area of the transportation sector is the ability or appetite to raise the profile of environmental protection and management. In some ways it can be compared to the evolution of safety awareness and the culture shift that needed to, and has, and continues to, occur. I would like to be able to contribute to raising awareness and shifting the culture, as environmental protection is a passion of mine.
SL: It’s all about connections, networking, and continuous learning. Within the industry there is so much room for learning and for innovation, and we simply can’t do that alone. It may feel uncomfortable at first for people in a scientific or engineering background to focus on relationship-building, but the reward is immense. As with anything in life, you get out of something what you put into it, so immerse yourself in TAC activities, push yourself, and be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Want to find out more or become a TAC volunteer? Contact us.