Meet our Emerging Leader Award finalist - Louisa Bloomer

As Regional Digital Practice Lead for Asia-Pacific, Louisa Bloomer brings a New Zealand and Australian perspective to strategic decisions made by Stantec’s global digital governance team.

With 4,500 APAC team members spread out across both sides of the Tasman, she also plays an active role in supporting and coaching Stantec’s local leaders as they embrace digital enablement.

One of our three ACE New Zealand Emerging Leader Award finalists for 2022, Louisa is eager to show women who are building a career in consultancy that it is possible to have both ‘a seat at the table’ in terms of career, and a family.

We caught up with Louisa to learn more about how she’s helping Stantec to build smart digital solutions into its business.

Why do you think it’s so important for professional services providers to be digitally enabled?

In all honesty, I think we can't afford not to be. With the level of demand on infrastructure and utilities competing with tightening budgets and rising public expectations around service levels, we have to do things smarter.

If we can take advantage of all the disruptive technologies that are making themselves available to us, we’ll set ourselves up to deliver more impactful solutions. We’ll also be able to plan further ahead because we're using bigger data to make smarter, intergenerationally-focused decisions.

What opportunities are there for consultants to be more digitally enabled?

My dream and my hope, which I’ve shared with many people, is for everyone to be digitally enabled.

I think that success in this area actually looks like there being no need for dedicated digital teams, because everyone is able to do digital tasks themselves. The reason I believe that is because, when you're looking to create an automated solution – for a network model for water or transport, for example – the best people to automate that solution are the specialists in that field.

For anyone starting out in their consulting career, I would say that if you have any interest in digital tools, then start learning about them. You don’t have to be a coder – there are other types of digital solutions that can help you. Visual programming, for example, is a step above coding that offers component-based modelling rather than requiring line-by-line code to be entered. Using this kind of tech means anyone can automate tasks much more quickly.

From an employer’s perspective, by empowering your people with digital training and support, you give them the capability to innovate. And who knows, they might make something that changes the world!

For firms just starting their digital journey, what advice would you give?

The most important thing is to have an achievable strategy and, within that, focus on having the right foundation and culture to enable success.

While big, shiny digital projects might seem exciting, taking the time to put the right leaders in place and a getting clear understanding of what your clients need is vital to a successful strategy.

Organisations also need to develop the right incentives around digital innovation – don’t just tell people they need to start innovating, let them know that they’ll be acknowledged and rewarded for contributing.

What does leadership mean to you?

I think leadership is about building trust, and growing a group and a direction, based on a collective intake of ideas and perspectives. I think a leader is really someone who can pull together a story or a voice, whether that be a group of 4 or 400 people, a project team or at an organisation level. It’s someone who can help tell the story of the direction we want to go and do that in a way that brings others on board.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

I love my job! I get to work with the best people across all sectors of Stantec. On a daily basis I get to hear about so many interesting projects, from designing new hospital wings, drones that make safety assessments, analytics that predicts flood risk to communities, through to how we’re doing environmental impact assessments and I get to watch my group deliver incredible digital solutions that make better outcomes for communities.

Why did you apply for the Emerging Leader Awards?

I really wanted to get the story of my career path across, as I’m really fortunate to have had it. I also think it’s relatively unique, it’s not a pathway I got to see when I was younger. Now aged 34, with three children, both public and private sector experience and having worked internationally, I lead a team of 31, shortly to become and a community of hundreds. I think it is a cool story - especially for other young women to see, as maybe it will influence their sights in terms of what their career might look like.

I think it is really important to tell that story that you can have a family, you can have a seat at the leadership table and make huge change, while still finding balance. Hopefully that influences others and then I’d love to see those people then influence my daughters.

What would you say to anyone thinking of entering next year?

Do it! The application process is an amazing opportunity to look back on your career and hear what others have thought of your interactions with them, and your leadership style. And don’t be nervous to ask people to support you with your application, because they absolutely will.

Louisa is one of three finalists for the 2022 ACE Emerging Leader Award, the winner of which will be announced at our Awards gala dinner on 2 September, as part of Conference 2022. Keen to celebrate with us? Find out more here

The ACE New Zealand Emerging Leader Award, sponsored by Tonkin + Taylor, recognises individuals who have a passion for leadership in the consulting sector, show a commitment to developing themselves, and demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities in their work and in their communities.