There are people we meet in the course of our lives that have an impact on the decisions we make, sometimes without us even realizing. One casual conversation can spark a new passion and lead us on a different trajectory. This is exactly what happened to two engineers at our Montreal office – Pietro Guerra and Manuelle Croft.
For both, meeting their mentor, Claude Hudon, an engineer with 46 years of experience in consulting engineering, was something that changed the course of their lives.
The Italian-style dinner that started it all
Pietro was 13 when he first met Claude, whom his father had invited home for a traditional Italian dinner. “Claude was talking to my dad about his work as an engineer and I thought to myself that it was the career for me,” says Pietro. When Claude later learned that Pietro had earned his degree in engineering, he contacted him and told him, “I can help you find a job if you’re interested.” From that moment on, Pietro always knew Claude would be there for him. “He quickly took me under his wing. He always told me that if there was something he could help me with, he’d help me. For me, Claude is much more than a mentor – he’s a friend and confidant,” says Pietro.
Pietro worked alongside Claude for the first three years of his career. Claude taught him about the working methodology used by engineers in the consulting industry, something rarely taught in school.
Shortly after his appointment to a management position at EXP, Pietro asked Claude to join his team. “I needed his experience to help build a team and support the development of a strategy. Claude has often told me it’s important to surround myself with good people, which is what I did by asking him to come work on my team,” he explains. To this day, Claude serves as a point of reference for Pietro. “When I have important decisions to make, I consult him for a second opinion. I call him il consigliere, which means the consultant in Italian.”
Making time to take her time
Manuelle says she first met Claude when he joined EXP. She had already met her colleague on a number of occasions while working as a LEED coordinator, but it wasn’t until a few years later that she really turned to him for help. “When I became a project manager, I had a lot of new information to quickly integrate and master. This included learning how to prepare proposals, solve problems, and deal with technical, administrative and interpersonal issues on a daily basis. At one point, Claude shared a quote that made me think and reassured me: Ce qui se conçoit bien s’énonce clairement, et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément (whatever is clearly thought out is clearly said). It was like he was telling me that it’s okay to take time to get a thorough understanding of a subject and to put my thoughts in order, even in a fast-moving environment,” says Manuelle.
Following his path
For Pietro, Claude has had a major impact on his career path and trajectory. “That’s what Pietro says. I was surprised to hear it at first, but after thinking about it, I suppose that’s the case,” Claude admits, his eyes filled with pride and emotion. According to Pietro, he only recently realized the full impact that Claude has had on his career and the person he has become. “When I was offered the position of vice president, strategic development, I wanted to talk about it with someone who knew me well enough to give me advice on the benefits and challenges that would come with this role. I think at that moment, he also realized how much he could influence the way I think and my trajectory,” he says.
Manuelle sees Claude’s influence like a gust of wind blowing in her sail, sometimes making her slightly change the course she’s sailing, but always pointing her towards the destination she set out for. “Claude has made an impact on me, but I continue on my own path in light of his advice and the ideas he sparks in me,” she concludes.
Mentor: Claude Hudon, P.Eng. | Building System Engineer | Montreal, QC
Mentee: Manuelle Croft, P.Eng., | LEED AP O+M, RCx, BCxP | Project Manager, Green Buildings | Montreal, QC; Pietro Guerra, P.Eng. | Vice President, Strategy Development, Buildings + Industry | Montreal, QC
*Originally published in EXP’s Expresso: Mentorship