Successful Environmental Managers Lead People and Projects

Janelle Pagnucco | April-19-12
Environmental Managers are leading both people and projects in their careers

Profile with EP Craig Robertson, M.Sc.

By Megan Foreman

The recipe to be a successful environmental manager is complex: add equal parts of technical competence and management capability, add a dash of humility, add an eye for innovation and we may get close. Likened to being the conductor of the orchestra, an environmental manager can see the big picture, identify what needs to be done, find the right people to do the work, and move projects along with sound decision making.

Craig Robertson, EP, M.Sc.A person that comes to mind when considering the previous sentiments is Craig Robertson: an EP specialized as an Environmental Manager, the Alberta EP Chapter Lead, and a Senior Manager with GENIVAR Inc.

 Craig Robertson started his career in 1974. Like many environmental professionals his career includes a variety of undertakings, such as: conducting research into salt loading and irrigation return flow studies in Southern Alberta for Agriculture Canada's Research Branch; sighting and characterizing landfills to help Alberta Environment move from local to regional landfills; and completing a Master of Science degree in Hydrogeology that explored the impact of irrigation return flow on the Milk River and Milk River Aquifer. 

For the last 22 years Craig has worked as a consultant in Calgary, focusing on contaminant hydrogeology. Presently, as Senior Manager, Environmental, with GENIVAR Inc., Craig directs technical and professional staff in the conduct of contaminant hydrogeological investigations, the development of risk management and remediation strategies, and the management of facility liabilities for multiple clients in western Canada.

ECO Canada had the good fortune to find a few minutes between Craig's hectic work and volunteer commitments to interview him for April's EP Profile: read on for highlights from the interview.

What is the most interesting thing that has happened in your career in the environmental sector?

I love to travel and study different cultures. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel and work in very interesting locations, including Libya, Ecuador and Russia. Evaluating the contrast between North American concepts of the environment with those of other cultures has been the most interesting aspect of my career. 

Why did you get certified as an Environmental Manager?

The EP program is important to me.  Since I was no longer a hands-on practitioner, but a multidisciplinary manager, I needed to upgrade my status to reflect the work that I was actually doing. Each profession has many facets. To specialize in a particular discipline within a profession is necessary to gain recognition within that field. As a geologist, obtaining the EP designation tells people that I am a competent practitioner within the environmental field.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?  

Five years from now I will be retired; however, does a professional really ever retire? I see myself volunteering to help with environmental issues in less fortunate areas of the world.

You have taken part in some of the foundational activities associated with building the Alberta Chapter of Environmental Professionals (EPs). Why do you think it is important for people to get involved with their regional chapter?

A major part of any profession is networking. Since ECO Canada is a national organization it is critical to have involvement at the provincial and local level.  We need to know who our colleagues are and interact for professional and social reasons. Maintaining professional standards, mentoring and career development can only be done at the local level. 

What is your vision for the growth and development of the environmental profession?

The public is demanding good environmental stewardship. The only way this can be ensured is by competent certified environmental professionals (EPs).  Industry and governments are learning this lesson the hard way by trying to allow multiple practitioners to coordinate the effort. Only by bringing the practice to an international standard will we achieve the desired effect. This I see happening over the next decade.

Looking back, what would you say has been the most important lesson that you have learned and would pass onto aspiring professionals?

Enjoy. Do not take yourself too seriously. You work in a fascinating time with incredible opportunities to learn and experience the wonders of the environment.  Enjoy it while you can.