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Insights Ready to tackle climate change? Here's how SNC-Lavalin is engineering a better future

Alastair Perry, Vice-President of Renewables at AtkinsRéalis 's Canadian Engineering Services business unit, talks to #InsideAtkins about his front-line work in Engineering Net Zero.

"Making money is a necessity in life, but for a professional purpose, it's dull. In contrast, taking on challenges that improve our planet's long-term viability is interesting and also aligned with the vision I have for the future of my three young boys."

Photo of Alastair making a speech

Alastair, how are you involved in Engineering Net Zero?

I aim to grow our Canadian business in hydrogen, carbon capture, waste-to-energy (or energy-from-waste), wind, solar, and other decarbonization technologies. We have a huge variety of projects on the go at any one time, so there are plenty of opportunities to decarbonize.

What do you enjoy about working in this space?

The new markets developing around Engineering Net Zero are the source of exciting advancements and technological breakthroughs. They're attracting a lot of talent from like-minded folks—this is the kind of team I want to work with. And here at AtkinsRéalis , we're big on expertise, not hierarchy. You'll have plenty of opportunities to be trusted with more responsibility faster while being supported by everyone around you.

What is your team doing that's interesting?

Our initiatives include helping small and/or start-up companies develop viable projects, advising the Canadian federal government on its hydrogen strategy, and evaluating investments that could lead to a technology licensing opportunity for AtkinsRéalis .

How is your team inspiring you?

Working in an unestablished area of business can be challenging. You hear "no" more frequently than "yes," and many pathways lead to dead ends. I'm proud of the team's persistence in the face of the challenges to continue to push to get us established and growing in our Engineering Net Zero target markets. I am also amazed at the creativity and problem-solving capabilities that emerge from the team when challenges arise.

How do you bring your passion for Engineering Net Zero to life?

I try to do this in my day-to-day work and family life. I try to practice and improve the leadership qualities that I believe are necessary for Engineering Net Zero success—open-mindedness and curiosity, collaboration and affinity for change, resilience and initiative. I also like to read and learn about Engineering Net Zero developments, sharing what I've learned with colleagues and family to see how we might leverage or incorporate the lessons or approaches into our pursuits.

What is your biggest concern about the future?

For the first time in history, there seems to be a good alignment of critical stakeholders worldwide to make Engineering Net Zero happen. Still, we're not moving fast enough to avoid the most destructive impacts of climate change. The targets that governments and other organizations have set, based on feedback from the scientific community, are fast approaching.

Our experience in project life cycles tells us there's no time to delay if we want to avoid a worst-case scenario. Namely, project requirements far exceed our capabilities and resources to effectively deliver them in the available timeframes. I'm also concerned that the powerful centres of short-term thinking that still exist could derail the actions necessary to dodge the most harmful effects of climate change.

What makes you confident that AtkinsRéalis can make a tangible difference?

AtkinsRéalis has the scale and is positioned well in key markets, enabling us to be an influencer. We have the technical base capability, the diversity of thought and the ingenuity to take on the challenges associated with Engineering Net Zero. We are already making headway in Engineering Net Zero markets with key clients and organizations around the world. It seems that every day when meeting with colleagues from different businesses or regions, I learn of a new capability, expertise or experience that we have in the company that could support our Engineering Net Zero mission.

Play a key role in engineering a better future for our planet and its people—search for live jobs with us. Read more about opportunities and challenges Canada is facing as a region and whether it is on track to meet it’s 2030 targets.