Why I chose to work overseas and what I learned along the way

August 24, 2017 Douglas Bryan

Travel? Intrigue? Cool projects? Douglas Bryan explains how an overseas work adventure helped his career in his #MyStantecStory


When I first saw the posting for Doha, I thought of what my former mentor once told me: “Always keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities.” So I emailed my mentor, who admitted that Doha wasn’t the kind of opportunity he’d been referring to, but “why not consider it?”

My thoughts exactly. However, was this international posting good for my family? My wife, Jennifer, and I had two children under three, and the Kelowna office was close to both our extended families. Moving to the Middle East was a huge deal.

When I first approached Jennifer about Doha, I didn’t even know how to pronounce the name of the country Qatar (hint: sounds like cutter). But the possibility of adventure drew us both. So we visited Doha for a week. Although disappointed that the city had no metro or public buses, we were pleasantly surprised at how safe it was. And while some might worry about taking young children abroad, I thought, “The kids aren’t in school yet, now is a good time to explore another culture.”

So I moved to Doha in May 2013. After working through the immigration process, the rest of my family followed in August—not the best time. The temperature hit 46⁰C (115⁰F) with 75% humidity.

But we had committed to living in Qatar for at least two years—and then stayed for over two and a half. During that time, I worked on amazing projects, including the world-class King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Saudi Arabia, and the National Center for Cancer Care & Research and the Naufar Wellness and Treatment Sanctuary in Qatar. 

Although we planned to return home to Western Canada, our Buildings Group senior vice president Leonardo Castro (Calgary, Alberta) convinced me that if he moved to Toronto, I could support Stantec’s growth in international markets. So my family and I relocated there in September 2015.

Working in the Middle East is not as difficult as it seems. Our clients there are always looking for the world’s best. They want international best practice; Stantec can definitely help them with that.

Looking back, I feel like I’ve made good use of, and benefited from, Stantec’s Career Development program. To those who want to be leaders, I suggest they taking part in development programs like mentorship and Stantec’s Emerging Leaders. Use tools like these. Find your own career path. Don’t sit back and wait for it to find you.  

So, my advice in a nutshell? Don’t just look at the risks; look at the opportunities.

About the Author

Douglas Bryan

Though a longboarder and Pecha Kucha enthusiast, Douglas Bryan, principal, is more well known for his business development skills. He supports client relationships and the pursuit of strategic opportunities in our sectors, and he’s locally focused on clients and account managers within the Buildings Engineering and Architecture teams in Toronto.

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