Open and close mobile menu


Insights Jonathan shares his experience as a water project manager

At AtkinsRéalis, our managers serve as an inspiration to employees within our company, as well as those interested in progressing in our industry.

If you’re an experienced project manager, water project management is a field with abundant opportunities.

Perhaps you’re wondering “what does a water project manager do?”, or if water management is a good career for you to aim towards.

Let us offer some insight into all of these questions by sharing an interview with AtkinsRéalis water project manager, Jonathan, about his career path and professional development.

We’ll also answer some of your common questions about water management projects in our FAQ section below.

Q: What is your role at AtkinsRéalis?

A: I am a Senior Project Manager for the Water Infrastructure Group, working on some of the most exciting projects in the US.

Q: What do you think has had the biggest impact on your career development as a water project manager to date?

A: Without a doubt, mentorship has had the greatest impact on my development at every stage of my career. 

As a young engineer, the technical lessons learned from more senior staff were invaluable to my career development—not just “what to do”, but more importantly “how to think” about technical problems, issues, and evaluation of potential solutions. 

At later stages in my career, I’ve found myself broadening considerations of mentorship to include peers and even supporting staff. With the right attitude and approach, it’s possible to learn from just about anyone

Continual learning and improvement are two of the most important things that we do on a regular basis due to the increasing pace of change in the workplace.

Q: How is collaboration central to what you do at AtkinsRéalis?

A: Collaboration will always be a cornerstone of the engineering workplace. Good designs are never developed in a vacuum—it takes evaluation, communication and effort by every member of the team to ensure ultimate project success. 

As consultants, our available time is usually the most limiting factor and the only way to overcome this limitation is to share the necessary workload among others. At AtkinsRéalis, this can include the involvement of staff located down the hall or halfway around the world.

 I’ve personally been involved in project collaboration with staff throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and India, and I can honestly say that at the end of delivery, the involvement of a multitude of voices has resulted in improved design and enhanced project results.

Q: What does diversity mean to you?

A: For me, it’s important to recognize that every one of us brings to the workplace the sum of our prior experiences, whether personal or professional, and these experiences form the basis of diversity. 

A team that encourages diverse viewpoints often results in better designs, especially when provided a forum in which all team members may provide input—as many diverse experiences are covert, and not always immediately apparent. 

Diversity and inclusion matter to me because as a personal example, growing up I had a cousin near my age who was paralyzed from the neck down (quadriplegic) due to a car accident and subsequently confined to a ventilator and motorized wheelchair. This experience provided me with a heightened sensitivity to ADA considerations during my design work. 

An effective team is one that encourages the promotion and discussion of a variety of member viewpoints to the benefit of the project deliverables.

Q: What is the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

A: Years ago, a good friend of mine told me that “no experience you have or education you attain will ever go to waste”. I have found this advice particularly empowering because there is this tendency to second-guess the life decisions each of us must make. 

It seems the bigger the decision, for example, whether to attend graduate school and what major to choose, the greater the associated fear of making the wrong decision takes hold due to the perception of possibly “wasting” time and resources. 

If we can acknowledge that there is no “waste” associated with the decisions we make, then it frees us from this fear and allows us to make better and bolder decisions and reminds us how experienced project managers can add value.

Q: What values are important to you?

A: I hold dear three primary values: honesty, integrity and fun. 

Honesty because it’s important to acknowledge the truth in everything we do. Being truthful is typically viewed as a positive attribute, but it can also be one of the most difficult things to put into practice. The truth does not always include good news, but it is important to speak and acknowledge the truth whenever called upon to do so. 

I view integrity as truth in action but acting with integrity extends beyond just speaking the truth… it really amounts to living the truth—as demonstrated through consistent beneficial action. 

Finally, it may seem frivolous, but having fun needs to be a key component of life. By having fun I don’t mean just telling jokes all the time, what I’m getting at is that we are only given this one life, and in order to make the most of it we should seek out those situations that increase and maximize our personal enjoyment. 

Join the AtkinsRéalis Group

Are you thinking about making your next career move?

With growing populations, climate change and pollution, we're seeing our clients face increasingly challenging projects. We’re continuing to build diverse teams so we have a mix of thinkers, like Jonathan, who can help us tackle these challenges with innovative solutions.

If his story has inspired you, why not learn more about our water market and browse our latest water project management jobs? Whether you're looking for a drainage engineer, civil engineer, or project manager job—or something more niche—we could have the opportunity that is right for you.

FAQs about water project management

What does a water project manager do?

The role of a water project manager is to optimize the way water resources are used. 

Similar to a water resource engineer, the overall function of a water project manager is to reduce water scarcity and find efficient solutions to facilitate the cost-effective availability of water.

Increasingly, water managers and engineers are tasked with finding sustainable water management solutions that contribute to Net Zero goals.

What is an example of a water management project?

A water management project might involve conceptualizing, designing, and implementing systems that collect rainwater, reclaim wastewater, and process its reuse.

To see a practical example, take a look at the Federal Energy Management Program outline of a comprehensive water management program.

What does AtkinsRéalis’ water market look like?

Our clients in the water supply and quality industry not only work with one of the most complex, ever-changing resources—but also one of the most important.

Simply put, water sustains all life, which is why we’re proud to bring together the best expertise and latest innovations to meet the challenges facing our clients—and the wider world—head-on. 

Humans and water have a complicated relationship. We need to protect and nurture it but also understand that it can be a dangerous and destructive force. Our water management experts recognize this and make sure sustainability and safety are central to every project we deliver.