Canada’s Catherine Karakatsanis elected as FIDIC’s first woman president

10 Sep 2023

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Canadian Catherine Karakatsanis has been elected as the latest president of FIDIC, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, following a vote by FIDIC member associations at its global annual meeting on 10 September 2023. She is the first woman to be president in FIDIC’s 110-year history.

Karakatsanis, who takes on her full duties as president at the conclusion of FIDIC's annual Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore on 12 September 2023, is the chief operating officer at Morrison Hershfield Group, a leading North American employee-owned consulting engineering and management firm. She also serves on the firm’s board of directors. After joining Morrison Hershfield as a structural engineer, she successfully moved through a series of technical and management positions. Based in Toronto, Canada, Karakatsanis is responsible for more than 900 professionals in 26 offices across Canada and the United States and one in India.

Commenting on her election as president and being the first woman to hold the role, Karakatsanis said: “I feel humbled by the trust shown in me to represent this brilliant industry organisation on a global scale. I feel extremely fortunate and honoured to be able to serve my profession and industry through FIDIC and I will be working hard to ensure that I do so in a way that makes a difference.

“I have worked and volunteered in consulting engineering continuously for over three decades. As a structural engineer and the chief operating officer of Morrison Hershfield, a consulting engineering and management firm, I am familiar with, and indeed still experience the many challenges facing our industry - challenges that I believe FIDIC helps the member firms address.

“I know that first-hand that our industry is in a position to directly enhance the wellbeing of society through the critical work we do. Our world is facing key and urgent challenges on many fronts including clean water, clean and affordable energy, good health, infrastructure needs and climate change, all amid wide disparities in standards of living and the threat of an unstable world. As a result, our industry will continue to be as important and vital as ever. And I strongly believe that we are in the enviable position that a public otherwise worried about the future can trust us as professionals who put the public welfare above all else.”

FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin said: “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Catherine Karakatsanis as FIDIC’s new president. I’m especially pleased that Catherine is FIDIC’s first ever woman president and I’m confident that her ascension to the presidency will encourage increasing diversity and inclusion within FIDIC and the wider industry. As a global organisation FIDIC aspires to reflect the international diversity of its membership and I look forward to working with Catherine to improve that and the global standing of FIDIC over her two years in office as president.

“I also want to pay tribute and thank our outgoing president Tony Barry for the brilliant leadership and support for FIDIC that he has provided throughout his period of office and over many years. Tony is someone who inspires and informs in equal measure and is undoubtedly also one of the best ambassadors that this industry has ever had. He is respected around the world for what he has achieved throughout his career – and the way he has achieved it. Everyone at FIDIC owes him a big debt of gratitude.”

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