December 6, 2023 By Elizabeth Bate
“I mean, it’s an honor. I feel a little bit like I have impostor syndrome,” Mat Kavanagh laughs when he’s asked about being named on of Rock to Road’s Top 10 Under 40.
It’s just 8:30 a.m. in British Columbia when Mat Kavanagh sits down to talk about his work, but he’s already been up for hours. With a young child, and a position as Lafarge Canada’s sustainability and environment manager that’s ever-changing, Kavanagh is up early.
“My favorite part about the job, without question, is the diversity of it,” he says. “I mean, working for Lafarge and just as, as an environmental manager overall, it gives you opportunities to work in ready-mix, concrete aggregate mining, major mines work at the cement plant, work in asphalt plants, so every day is, is truly different.”
Kavanagh believes being able to get a little bit of expertise and all the disciplines helps him to create “synergies” between the different groups and join experts from different areas.
“Bringing people together, keeping the diversity alive, and getting to put my hands are chosen many, many pots, is what makes it such a great position,” he says.
Kavanagh, who says he’s privileged to be one of the few in the industry working in the field he went to school for, joined Lafarge after years as a consultant in Alberta. He considers himself lucky to be able to work on projects that allow him to be proactive about making a positive impact on the environment.
“I find with environmental consulting, a lot of the time the consulting firms will get a call when something bad has happened, or when they did something down that is that is contaminated. Moving to that in-house consultant role helps us be proactive and eliminate those things from even happening in the first place,” he said.
“Originally, I just wanted to do something in environment to stay outside because I love the outdoors. It just rolled into ‘hey, what can I actually get out and do and be more proactive about preventing contamination, making sure we have sustainability targets and making sure that as a major industrial company we’re reducing our environmental impact.”
Kavanagh says the key to being able to make that impact and do his job well has been making connection between different groups of people and leveraging their expertise to create a result that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
“I think what makes me relatively useful at my job is that relationship building and the ability to actually put teams together. I’ll be the first to admit if I don’t know something, but I always try and find someone that does know and loop them into the conversation. I think leadership style is really just keeping things open.”
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