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Graham's career path is a good example of how combining education with extra-curricular activities can take you to some interesting and unexpected places. While pursuing his undergraduate degree in political science at UBC, Graham became involved with student government, including advocating for the creation of the U-Pass program. That interest in transportation initially led him to a post-graduation position at the university, then to TransLink and finally to Stantec, where he’s now worked for almost ten years. Along the way, his desire to understand complex transportation issues exposed him to ideas about urban planning and he realized that a broader and more nuanced understanding of cities would increase his effectiveness as an urban practitioner. He then chose to pursue a graduate diploma in urban studies, partly because of the part-time option SFU offered. He later transferred to the master’s program.
Graham started off at Stantec in proposal-writing and loves the sustainability consulting work he’s since grown into, with the help of his master’s degree. He describes his time in the urban studies program as “a really rich experience in terms of the cohort I was with.” He counts the interaction with other early and mid-career professionals that he got through the program as one of the best things about his time there. “It actually changed the course of my career because I was involved in transportation, but through urban studies and some of the exposure I gained there to certain people and ideas, I got interested in sustainability more broadly defined.” Graham counts himself lucky because his work as a senior associate and sustainability leader at Stantec has given him opportunities to travel within Canada and provides him with projects that vary widely in terms of clients, scale and subject matter. This makes for an intellectually stimulating work life that allows him to occasionally delve deeper into some of his special interests – and get paid for it.
While in the Urban Studies Program, Graham won awards from the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Downtown Vancouver Business Association. He’s continued that high level of contribution since graduating by being active in business, sustainability and green building organizations. A version of his thesis, which looked at the idea of the conscious city, was published in the journal Urban Environment in 2009.
Connect with Graham on LinkedIn.