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Exclusive interview with Denis Tremblay, Tetra Tech

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Denis Tremblay & Tetra Tec

Denis Tremblay is General Manager of the Energy Unit of Tetra Tech in Canada – which boasts more than 600 professionals in 12 offices from coast to coast. He has also been a member of the board of directors of BPR, a Tetra Tech subsidiary, since 2009.

Mr. Tremblay is President of the Association de l’industrie électrique du Québec, the province’s electrical industry’s professional association. He was also President of the energy committee of the Association des ingénieurs-conseils du Québec (Quebec’s association of consulting engineers), and member of the Board of Directors of the École Polytechnique de Montréal foundation and of the Institut en génie de l’énergie électrique.

Prior to joining Tetra Tech, Mr. Tremblay had worked for Alcan (now Rio Tinto Alcan) in the Electric Energy division, as a senior partner in a consulting engineering firm, and on the management of TransÉnergie, a division of Hydro-Québec, where he became the Head of Expertise and Technical Support.

ISO Focus+ : With 330 offices worldwide, Tetra Tech operates in a number of countries and its work teams vary in size depending on the project. How has international standardization contributed to your global activities ?

Denis Tremblay : Tetra Tech is a multinational company working on all continents. It is experienced in the management of every kind of project, from the smallest to the largest. Efficient processes are in place to achieve the desired outcome. Tetra Tech, for example, relies on standardized management processes and adapts them to meet the specific needs of each project. A large project may require specific processes, whereas similar principles can also be applied to smaller projects.

Standardization is important to Tetra Tech. While it’s true that standardization is more visible in the manufacturing sector, particularly in terms of achieving product compatibility to gain access to new markets, it is also fundamental to the engineering sector.

Just as barriers to market entry in the manufacturing sector can be costly, our customers in the engineering field also have stringent quality requirements, which they link to specific standards, and to which they want us to conform. And when a company makes the effort to meet an International Standard, the payoff is great.

ISO Focus+ : What measures does Tetra Tech take to remain competitive in the global marketplace and how do International Standards create added value ?

Denis Tremblay : The competitiveness of a company like Tetra Tech is achieved via access to new markets. Standardization acts as a natural gateway that facilitates this access into the marketplace.

International Standards serve as a bridging mechanism. They constitute a tool for a company, enabling it to overcome barriers and gain greater market access. The more standards are used, the greater their level of competitiveness. This, in the end, gives the ultimate client a big payoff in terms of cost savings.

World-recognized practices open the path to expanding markets. It is only natural that there should be an established link between these practices and accessing a greater number of customers in different parts of the world.

Engineering can’t avoid globalization. Expanding into global markets allows companies to implement recognized practices and common standards, particularly with respect to terminology and processes.

ISO Focus+ : The success of businesses like Tetra Tech also results from innovation in the development of products and techniques. Why are standards important in this process ? How do the engineering sector in general and Tetra Tech in particular benefit from ISO standards ?

Denis Tremblay : We are always on the lookout for the most recent innovations developed by university and laboratory research programmes. Standardization, at times, may be seen as a brake on innovation. However, when innovative techniques are globally recognized, they can be accommodated and integrated into the marketplace. Standardization therefore allows for the rapid expansion of new practices resulting from innovation.

ISO Focus+ : What new International Standards would you like to see included in ISO ? What fields could ISO concentrate on ?

Denis Tremblay : ISO already covers a number of fields related to our area of expertise. However, several aspects are becoming significantly important in our business practices, such as ethics and governance. ISO, for instance, could certainly suggest a governance model that would be better adapted to tomorrow’s commercial environment, as was the case for quality management, risk management and environmental management.

ISO Focus+ : What kind of sensitization and capability reinforcement actions would you recommend to ISO and its members so that small or medium-sized businesses could take advantage of International Standards ?

Denis Tremblay : Each company has its way of growing in response to opportunities it is presented. What’s clear is that companies wanting to expand –through access to new markets or increased market share – must inevitably follow/adopt common standardized methodologies. International Standards function as an anchor point that allows companies to have a common framework.

You can look at the process through which new International Standards become integrated from the point of view of the individual, or through the company’s customer relationships. The individual/professional must have an open mind on International Standards and be aware of their existence. However, to reinforce the use of International Standards in companies, client relationship is often key. The introduction of International Standards most often occurs because of clients, which create the incentive for companies to conform.

About Tetra Tech

Tetra Tech

Tetra Tech is a leading provider of consulting, engineering, programme management, construction management, and technical services. The company supports government and commercial clients by providing innovative solutions to complex problems focused on water, environment, energy, infrastructure, and natural resources. With more than 13 000 employees worldwide, Tetra Tech's capabilities span the entire project life-cycle.

In Canada, Tetra Tech is a front-line player in consulting engineering, technical services, construction and project management. With more than 50 offices from coast to coast and in the Canadian North, the company provides a multidisciplinary approach that is equal to any challenge throughout the project life-cycle.

The Energy Unit of Tetra Tech in Canada covers the fields of transportation, distribution and renewable energy, hydropower and dams, nuclear and large projects and construction management.

Denis Tremblay
Denis Tremblay
General Manager, Energy Unit
Tetra Tech
Canada