Sandra meeting some wildlife in the field in Haida Gwaii
At an early age, Sandra Meidinger developed a love of nature and animals. Her passion for spending time outdoors and exploring nature led her to pursue a degree in Natural Resource Science at the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops, BC. Upon graduating, Sandra quickly turned to her next goal of becoming a professional biologist, as she felt a strong desire to belong to a community of like-minded professionals.
Early in her career, Sandra worked with the BC Ministry of Environment, and then moved to consulting. She tells us, “I enjoy the pace of consulting and how it challenges me everyday.”
Since joining Associated in 2006, Sandra credits Brent Phillips, General Manager of our Environmental Division, as being an influential mentor. Brent helped her to understand and apply her strengths, and allowed her to make and be accountable for her decisions. Other mentors Sandra values include Norman Di Perno and Brian Guy, who have both shared their technical knowledge and understanding of the business.
“I enjoy working for Associated because of the opportunities that are available,” she says. “There is no ceiling; if you have what it takes to be successful, the company stands behind you.”
One of Sandra’s most memorable experiences is working with the Skidegate Band on Haida Gwaii in BC. She completed various environmental assessments and monitoring projects for the Band. “The people were amazing to work with and coastal habitat was a change from the BC Interior,” she says.
Sandra tells us that moving from Associated’s Vernon, BC office to Edmonton, AB and becoming part of the management team has been very personally rewarding. She explains, “Building a team with diverse skills and personalities has been both challenging and rewarding. Managing people has presented opportunities for self reflection and growth. I’ve learned so much from my team and colleagues.”
In her role as Regional Manager of Alberta North’s Environmental Group, Sandra enjoys mentoring and coaching her team, especially our young staff. She feels it is important to pass on past learnings, successes and failures, and to maintain an open dialogue. Sandra finds there is lots to learn from young staff as they bring a new perspective and help us see things in new ways.
Sandra notes that consulting is a tough, but very fulfilling business. She advises young people in the industry that you have to have a passion for it because it is not a job that ends at five o’clock every day. To stay focused on career goals, she recommends to never say no to an opportunity, take ownership of any task given, and work hard.
Sandra tells us, “My philosophy is that we are here to work, but we are also here to have fun and enjoy what we do. I expect everyone on our team to work hard when we need to, and then take time to recoup. I don’t like to micro-manage, so I have enjoyed building a team with staff members who thrive in their own environment, are self-motivated, and goal-oriented. I like to give people the opportunity to succeed on their own, and to help them when they need it.”
Asked about her philosphy for building client relationships, Sandra says, “It takes time to build trust with our clients, but I believe that delivering a good product, on time and on budget, with clear communication is the key to success. To achieve this, it is important to understand the expectations of our clients and what keeps them up at night. We want to solve their problems and make them look good.”
Professionally, Sandra volunteers on the College of Applied Biology Credential Committee for BC and the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists Registration Committee. Volunteering keeps her involved with the professional organizations that she belongs to and allows her to give back.
Outside of work, Sandra enjoys traveling, stand-up paddle- boarding, Nordic skiing/ Skijoring, and spending time with her Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Max. Sandra’s passion is animal welfare causes. Prior to leaving Vernon, she started an organization called the Pet Soup Kitchen, which was a partnership between volunteers, a local soup kitchen, and a pet store. The organization continues to supply families in-need with food and other supplies for their pets.