Carmen Giesbrecht

Carmen Giesbrecht

Structural Engineer, Project Delivery Group

Carmen is a valued member of Hatch's Structural Engineering group. Carmen specializes in industrial structural engineering and has spent most of her time with Hatch working in the mining industry supporting the design, construction, and maintenance of Potash facilities in Saskatchewan. Over the past several years she has served as a structural design engineer and field engineer for phase 1 of a boiler modification project aimed at reducing emissions at a potash mine. In 2023, Carmen took on the role of structural lead for phase 2 of the same boiler modification project. Furthermore, she has played a crucial role as the lead inspector for structural integrity projects at several mines across Saskatchewan. Carmen's expertise and dedication have made a significant impact in advancing the field of industrial structural engineering.

Carmen was one of the recipients of the 2023 Positive Change Awards, a program to recognize employees who contribute to building Hatch’s inclusive organization, who exemplify the values of our Manifesto, and who actively work towards strengthening our diverse teams.

“Carmen is an active member of the Western Canada Diversity and Inclusion committee and the Indigenous Engagement Committee in Saskatoon. She is committed to driving diversity and inclusion in Hatch. Carmen is brave in speaking up about her experiences and what can be done to make the workplace a more psychologically safe space for everyone,” shared Rohan, one of Carmen’s nominators for the award.

Why do you believe in diversity and inclusion?

In my experience, diversity of thought is such an important aspect of any team. The importance of working collaboratively with other disciplines throughout the entire project process has been emphasized since the moment I entered the industry. The projects I have worked on where several disciplines work alongside each other to create a comprehensive and well-rounded solution have been the most successful and the best learning experiences for myself and my team members.

This concept—that collaboration creates more successful outcomes—applies directly to the diversity and inclusion space as well. If we have more diverse teams, with variations in backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, we will inevitably have a more comprehensive understanding of the problem we as an industry are trying to solve and will be better informed to design a solution that meets our clients’ needs.

What do you think we need to do as individuals to improve inclusivity?

Improving our personal awareness is a huge piece of the diversity and inclusion conversation. If the majority group is not aware of how minorities around them are being negatively impacted, then there is no way for them to know how to help push positive change forward. Bringing everyone into the inclusion conversation and making it a safe space for minorities and allies to learn and grow is so important to make meaningful change. We can’t expect everyone to be perfect when entering inclusion conversations and automatically know exactly what to say and do. This has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since getting involved in the diversity and inclusion space, that we need to allow people the grace to make mistakes along the way, as long as they are willing and open to learn from them.

The follow up to increasing our personal awareness is spreading that to the people around us and leading by example. For so long diversity and inclusion efforts have been spearheaded by the minority group and though this involvement and firsthand knowledge is crucial, it is just as important if not more important for the majority group to take a leadership role in the inclusion space.

I think this needs to start at the top with people in leadership positions taking action day-to-day to embody an inclusive mindset and for those people to be loud about it so that they are setting a clear example and precedent for those working around them. An action as simple as doing a psychological safety share at the start of a meeting to raise awareness about unique challenges others may be facing can have a huge impact. This can help start to create a safe space for future inclusion conversations within Hatch projects and with our clients.

What does positive change mean to you?

To me positive change means leaving a space better than it was when you entered it. Whether it be a project I am working on, the office and teams I am a part of, or the industry in general. There are so many opportunities to make small changes that in the long run may have a larger impact than you think. This has been one of my biggest drives when it comes to working towards a more inclusive space, knowing that the future generation of people entering this industry will not have to face all the same challenges I have experienced and observed others around me experience.

What do you think are the toughest challenges facing our clients?

The most common challenges I’ve seen clients in the mining industry face recently are supply chain issues and scarcity of resources, both people and materials. I’ve seen the impact that this has had on almost every project I have worked on over the past year. Execution schedules on both the engineering and construction side are hard to lock in when there is constant risk of long or unknown procurement times and a lack of resources to execute the work at each stage of the project. Although this is a busy and exciting time to work in the mining industry, with so many changes and opportunities for new work, it has required our project teams to be extremely adaptable in the engineering, construction planning, and commissioning phases of a project to meet our clients’ needs.

What are you most proud of?

This year I had the opportunity to be on site for the construction of a new boiler and building extension at a potash mine. It is the first project that I have had the opportunity to act as the primary structural design and field engineer, and there is a huge sense of pride in getting to watch the building go up and the whole project come together after working on it the past couple years.

What do you like most about working at Hatch? How do you think the Hatch culture is different from other companies?

The best part about working at Hatch are the opportunities and the people. Since starting with Hatch, I have been constantly challenged and given opportunities to grow. I love that I am able to steer my career in any direction I desire and the leadership team in my office is supportive of my career growth and take an active part in helping me to identify and take on new roles, seek out challenging projects, and grow my career. Not only have I gained invaluable mentorship from the people I have crossed paths with during my time at Hatch, but I have also met some of my closest friends. It feels easy to come to work every day knowing I am working on exciting and challenging projects, and that I get to do it surrounded by a great group of people.

One thing that really sets Hatch culture apart for me, compared to other places I have worked, is that everyone is really encouraged to work as one team. No matter which office or region you are in, how junior or senior you are, or what business unit you are a part of, it feels like there are no barriers to reaching out for technical help on projects, career advice and mentorship, or to get involved in new areas of Hatch. If you are motivated to take initiative, it feels like there is no limit to what you can get involved with and the network you can build.