For­mer Yar­mouth County res­i­dent named one of ‘Canada’s most pow­er­ful women’

Denise Poth­ier hon­oured in ‘trail­blaz­ers and trend­set­ters’ cat­e­gory


Denise Poth­ier has worked in en­gi­neer­ing for 25 years and last week, at a na­tional awards event in Toronto, she was rec­og­nized in part be­cause of her role in en­cour­ag­ing young women to think about en­gi­neer­ing as a po­ten­tial ca­reer.

She says it’s a ca­reer path she wouldn’t have taken had it not been for one of her high school teach­ers.

A res­i­dent of Hal­i­fax, where she works for Stan­tec, Poth­ier grew up in Lower Eel Brook, Yar­mouth County, and at­tended the for­mer Ste-Anne-du-Ruis­seau high school, grad­u­at­ing in 1988.

On Nov. 22, she was named one of Canada’s Most Pow­er­ful Women by the Women’s Ex­ec­u­tive Net­work (WXN). She was hon­oured in the CIBC “trail­blaz­ers and trend­set­ters” cat­e­gory at a gala in Toronto.

The WXN Top 100 Awards cel­e­brate the ac­com­plish­ments of Canada’s top fe­male ex­ec­u­tive tal­ent. The trail­blaz­ers/trend­set­ters cat­e­gory rec­og­nizes women who are ei­ther first in their field, or who have made a ma­jor im­pact on it, and who have made a great con­tri­bu­tion to Cana­dian so­ci­ety in any field or en- deav­our.

Poth­ier, Stan­tec’s vice-pres­i­dent of prac­tice ser­vices and Indige­nous re­la­tions, is con­sid­ered a leader for her work with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, as well as for her ef­forts to sup­port women and girls in science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics.

Stan­tec in­cludes en­gi­neers, ar­chi­tects and sci­en­tists and their work cov­ers a wide range of pro­jects, from in­te­rior de­sign to min­ing work to in­fra­struc­ture.

“It’s an hon­our and a priv­i­lege to be named a trailblazer and a trend­set­ter,” Poth­ier said. “But it is also far more than that. It is a re­spon­si­bil­ity, one that I take very se­ri­ously.”

In an in­ter­view a few days af­ter the Toronto gala, Poth­ier said she wouldn’t be where she is to­day if one of her high school teach­ers at SAR hadn’t rec­om­mended en­gi­neer­ing as a ca­reer op­tion.

“I hadn’t con­sid­ered en­gi­neer­ing,” she re­called. “It wasn’t even on my radar un­til Philippe Doucet spoke to my mom at a par­ent­teacher meet­ing and said ‘what is Denise think­ing of do­ing? Has she ever thought about en­gi­neer­ing?’ Think about it. Back in 1988, there weren’t a lot of women go­ing into en­gi­neer­ing, es­pe­cially not from the ru­ral ar­eas. And so he (Doucet) looked be­yond the stereo­types and bi­ases and what not and just said ‘I see a stu­dent here who’s re­ally good at math prob­lem solv­ing and the sciences and has an ap­ti­tude.’”

She en­cour­ages peo­ple to think about teach­ers who were men­tors to them and to ap­pre­ci­ate their in­sight. Re­fer­ring to Doucet, who is now re­tired from teach­ing, Poth­ier said, “I can­not thank him enough.”

Poth­ier, mean­while, has be­come an in­spi­ra­tion for young women who may be think­ing about en­gi­neer­ing. She of­fered some words of en­cour­age­ment.

“It doesn’t mat­ter where you come from,” she said. “If you’ve got the in­ter­est in the sciences and the math, if you like to solve prob­lems, like to make a good salary – all of those things – if you like to make a dif­fer­ence in the world, then en­gi­neer­ing is a great choice.”

She ac­knowl­edges it’s not for ev­ery­one. Her ad­vice to any­body try­ing to chart a ca­reer path is to de­ter­mine what in­ter­ests them and, what­ever it might be, to do their best.

“I en­cour­age ev­ery­one (to con­sider): what makes you tick? And then give it all you’ve got.”


Denise Poth­ier grew up in Lower Eel Brook and lives in Hal­i­fax, where she works for Stan­tec.

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