Get to know Steph McLeod, our award-winning Rising Star

Steph McLeod

Steph McLeod

We are excited to announce that Steph McLeod was announced as the (joint) winner of the Rising Star Award at the recent National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Excellence Awards.

This year all winners at the Excellence Awards were celebrated as ‘trail-blazing role models for women in construction’. When presenting Steph with the Rising Star Award, the judges noted they were particularly impressed by her focus on effective communication as a key driver to delivering projects on time, all while leading teams by example. They were also impressed with her desire to foster collaborative solutions to construction issues.

Steph’s award win comes a week after she was commended as a finalist in the ACENZ Future Leader Award.

Get to know…Steph McLeod

Read on to find out more about Steph McLeod as she shares her background, her stand-out projects, her motivators,  and what it means to be a Rising Star. 

My Grandad and Dad were always building, whether it was houses, cars, fences or go-karts, they were always creating and I knew from a young age I wanted to ‘build stuff’ and have a job where I was always busy planning on the next thing to build or create.

As a Project Manager and Commercial Leader for Water, I am a long way from my geological beginnings. I started as a Geologist, gradually got into project management and found the commercial aspects of the work we undertake really interesting. Currently, I really enjoy being involved in learning about projects from the business and commercial perspective.

At school, a lot of the career advice I received was relatively gender-specific and outdated. I wish someone told me about all the awesome careers and opportunities in the engineering, science and technology fields that existed: I was quite sure that I would go into a non-technical role based on the advice I was given. I am all about the ‘right person, right role’ mantra, and believe that if you have the skills and interest in a field you should be encouraged to do what you love as life is too short not to. I am hopeful that when the next generation start planning their careers, we won’t need to encourage women specifically into careers in engineering, science and technology as people will pursue the role they enjoy doing.

The three projects that always stand out in my mind are ones that really challenged me technically and personally—the first was a bioenergy/waste to energy project for British Sugar, another was working on the Vickers State Highway project in New Plymouth, and finally the Wainisavulevu Dam Raise project.

This advice was first given to me by my third form Chemistry Teacher Mr Flello when he told me to ‘always trust my gut’ (at the time it was as a result of changing a large number of multi-choice questions from the correct to the incorrect answers because I doubted myself!). It is recurring advice I have been told by my mentor as well, and often the advice I should have taken when an outcome meant I didn’t trust my gut!

I am motivated by interacting with teams that face challenges. Teams are always stronger for having faced and dealt with challenges, and there is always something satisfying when a challenge is smashed and the team can move forward all the stronger for it.

I moved to MWH, now part of Stantec, with the intention of getting more involved in hydropower/dam/water conveyance projects as I see water sustainability as one of the biggest challenges that my generation will face. I am lucky to have worked on soil mapping, waste to energy, water, wastewater, roading, dams, hydropower and irrigation projects in my career.

Being a rising star means stepping outside of your comfort zone, not being afraid to make mistakes (as long as you rectify them and learn from them), and not being fearful of challenges that you think are beyond you.

Outside of work my husband and I have renovated two houses in the last four years although that quickly went from being a passion to a chore. I have two husky’s that I love taking on walks, I enjoy fishing in the Tasman and also teach Les Mills classes as a hobby job.

I am really looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that being a part of Stantec will bring in 2018, along with the journey that we as a company and as project teams are going to experience.


L-R: 1. Steph accepts her Rising Star award on stage.  2. Colleagues celebrate Steph's win at the Excellence Awards.

L-R: 1. Steph accepts her Rising Star award on stage.
2. Colleagues celebrate Steph’s win at NAWIC’s Excellence Awards.