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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020

Sean Nicoll’s keen interest in protecting the environment leads to lasting infrastructure solutions

Sean Nicoll

Sean Nicoll (left) with Helder Afonso (Vice President & General Manager, Alberta North)

As a university student, Sean Nicoll originally wanted to pursue studies in marine biology, but he soon discovered that his academic talents were better suited to a career in environmental engineering. He enjoyed the idea of working with the environment, flood control, water treatment, and waste management.  

Sean shares that he was very fortunate to have some good teachers and coaches along the way, who sparked his interest in the physical world and solving problems. His mentors taught him to evaluate both sides of an issue, look for the unintended consequences of a decision, and know when to listen.  

Snow Storage Site

Early in his career as an Environmental Engineer, Sean found his aptitude for learning and managing projects led to more responsibilities and larger opportunities. Looking back, Sean says, “I learned the value of perseverance to achieve my goals, and to seek out the opportunities I wanted.” 

Sean shares that a friend encouraged him to explore opportunities with Associated Engineering at a time when he was looking for a change. Sean felt that the company would be a good fit. There were opportunities to work on landfills and other containment projects, as well as the potential to work on water and wastewater projects. Sean recalls, “My friend spoke highly of Associated and the company had a great reputation in the industry and with clients.”

Since joining Associated in 2006, Sean says his most memorable projects have included the Alexis Casino, which was his first multi-discipline project; the Sylvan Lake and Lac La Biche marina projects; snow storage sites; and water projects for the Capital Region Water Service Commissions. He tells us, “It’s rewarding to be able to work with clients over several years and see their long-range plans come to fruition.” 

Sylvain Lake Marina

Sean tells us that he finds that projects go much better if you can make a connection and develop relationships with the people you work with. He says, “Strong relationships make the project experience more enjoyable and you get a better final product through collaboration.” 

“I like the fact that, although my projects may be low profile, they are important, long-term infrastructure that forms sustainable communities.”

Today as a mentor himself, Sean feels that mentoring is a great way to help young professionals to develop and, at the same time, gain different perspectives.  

As Regional Client Service Manager of our Grande Prairie office, Sean says, “I enjoy consulting. It’s fulfilling to get to work with clients to solve their problems, collaborate on teams to design solutions, and partner with contractors to build them.”  

Sean’s approach is to find environmentally sustainable solutions, balancing clients’ expectations and budgets. He relates, “At the end of project, it’s very satisfying to turn the facility over to the client.”  

In his personal time, Sean enjoys playing squash, going cross country skiing, and renovating houses. He volunteers with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). Sean also gives back to the community as a volunteer at the University of Alberta. He enjoys talking with the students as part of career fairs and Science Olympics.