FIDIC's president-elect receives Canadian engineering lifetime achievement award

15 Feb 2023

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Catherine Karakatsanis, who becomes FIDIC president later this year, has picked up a Canadian industry lifetime achievement award.

The Morrison Hershfield chief operating officer was recognised by the Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine by being given one of their inaugural lifetime achievement awards. The magazine launched its lifetime achievement awards programme in late 2022, soliciting nominations from across Canada. The initiative recognises leading professional engineers working in private practice for their exceptional careers in - and legacies of contributions to - consulting engineering in the fields of construction and infrastructure. The industry across Canada responded strongly, with a wide variety of nominations and Karakatsanis was one of just three people honoured with an award.

Karakatsanis joined Morrison Hershfield as a structural engineer and quickly progressed through technical and project management roles to become a director, senior director, vice-president and COO. She was the firm’s first female executive and board member. “I’ve worked in and gained an understanding of every part of our company over the years,” she said. “I haven’t had one day when I’ve been bored, so it never occurred to me to go anywhere else!”
As a leader, she has strived to make the firm even more welcoming to and inclusive of women and minorities and to provide greater technical support to its younger engineers. She also oversees the company’s inclusion and equity committee, communities of practice and climate change practice development initiative.

During her career she has also worked with Engineers Without Borders and led Professional Engineers Ontario, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and Engineers Canada as president. Most recently, continuing that work onto a global level, she became president-elect of international engineering federation FIDIC last year and will be the first woman to hold the position of president in the organisation’s history when she takes the office later this year.

Commenting on her role at FIDIC, Karakatsanis said: “FIDIC has been very exciting. It represents more than 1.4 million engineers and 40,000 firms in more than 100 countries. With its global reach, it is the ideal vehicle to facilitate collective action to advance the industry and deal with the pressing issues facing our planet.”

Reacting to Karakatsanis receiving her award, FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear that Catherine has been honoured by the Canadian industry in this way and her lifetime achievement award is richly deserved. Everyone at FIDIC is looking forward to Catherine becoming our first-ever woman president later this year and I’m confident that her ascension to the presidency will encourage increasing diversity and inclusion within FIDIC and the wider industry. Many congratulations to her and also to the other two winners of the award.”

Commenting on receiving the award, Karakatsanis said: “I am deeply honoured to have received this lifetime achievement award and I know that I received this recognition because of the wonderfully supportive and encouraging people around me throughout my career - including at FIDIC. I hope that my award will inspire others and also help to encourage increasing diversity and inclusion in our industry.”

The other two lifetime achievement award winners honoured by Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine were Jeremy Haile, principal engineer and former president of Vancouver-headquartered Knight Piésold Canada and Maurice Brisson, a founding member of engineering consultancy BBA in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Quebec.

Click here to visit the Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine website.

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