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Lindsay Melvin: A Fine Balance

February 9, 2017 — 

lindsay-melvin-1As the new president of Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, Asper MBA alumna Lindsay Melvin [MBA/15] is out to realize a vision. “I want to see 30 per cent of newly licensed engineers be women by 2030,” she says.

The current figure?

“Far lower,” she says. “We have a long way to go before we achieve gender balance, but I’m optimistic.”

Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba regulates the engineering and geoscience professions in Manitoba. Melvin was elected president of the organization in October 2016 for a one-year term – enough time, she says, to set the strategic direction for a more diverse and gender-balanced future.

To accomplish her goals, she’s drawing on a fine balance of skills and experience she has worked hard to achieve over the past 17 years.

A self-proclaimed numbers and science person, Melvin fell in love with engineering because it empowered her to apply both to solving real-world problems. She worked as a summer student for Manitoba Hydro beginning in 1999, then earned a BSc in mechanical engineering in 2002, followed by an MSc in mechanical and industrial engineering in 2004. Both degrees were from the U of M.

Her first role as a professional engineer was in Manitoba Hydro’s export power marketing group. There she undertook the challenge of translating analytical and technical information into marketing language for her non-technical colleagues – an accomplishment of which she remains proud to this day.

“I discovered a new way I could communicate with my team to keep us on track in achieving Hydro’s business goals.”

Around that time she also began volunteering for Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, serving on what was then the Women’s Action Committee.

“Volunteering opened my eyes to so much more of the profession —the various industries and disciplines beyond my field of work. And I started to learn more about management: presenting, leading a team, keeping everyone organized, including myself.”

At the same time, her career kept pushing her into leadership roles and higher levels of decision-making. Thanks to the prompting of one of her managers, Melvin suddenly perceived the advantages of three little letters.

“Business needs drive all the projects I’m asked to complete, so I needed formal business knowledge to translate my ideas into a language management could understand and act on. It was critical I get an MBA.”

Melvin began her Asper MBA in 2011. She specialized in finance and human resources when she realized how relevant those two functions were to her work at Hydro.

“Everything I learned benefitted me in so many ways,” she says. “One unusual example that stands out was an entrepreneurship class with a professor named Reg Litz. By some fluke, most of my classmates were working in Crown corporations, like me. Not exactly an innovative bunch with huge prospects for creativity, you might think. But Reg took that class as an opportunity to show us how you could apply entrepreneurial thinking even to the management of Crown corps. It was phenomenal. To this day, I strive to be creative and innovative in everything I do.”

During her final year in the MBA program, Melvin began a new role at Manitoba Hydro, as Section Head of Distribution Portfolio Management and Controls. She now oversees nine project managers responsible for planning, designing and building 400 projects currently underway in Winnipeg.

The move from the generation to the distribution side of Hydro was “a big change but a great one,” she says. “The MBA gave me the confidence I needed to move into such a new area. It’s a lot more technical. But I know from my MBA that I can teach myself anything, think strategically, work with groups, create a mission and a vision, and get us where we need to go.”

That confidence also led her to accept the nomination for president of Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, where she now has the opportunity to make even more change.

“I know I have the skills to lead,” she says. “I’m looking forward to putting them to work for the future of Manitoba’s engineers and geoscientists.”

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