Off to the US as part of Tetra Tech Leadership Academy

Brisbane-based principal urban designer Melissa Drake has been selected to join Tetra Tech’s Leadership Academy, hot on the heels of RPS becoming a Tetra Tech company.

Melissa is one of 38 participants (and only RPS employee from Australia) selected for the year-long Tetra Tech professional development program. She recently travelled to Arlington, Virginia in the United States to begin the syllabus.

We sat down with Melissa to find out how it all came about.

Tetra Tech Leadership Academy 2023 participants

Tetra Tech Leadership Academy 2023 participants.

QRPS became a Tetra Tech company in January this year – how long after did you learn that you’d be taking part in Tetra Tech’s Leadership Academy?

A few weeks after RPS became a Tetra Tech company, I was told I had been nominated for the program. It’s definitely one of the benefits of joining a new company – that there are more opportunities for development. I just didn’t think I’d be selected for something like this so quickly!

It was great surprise and an absolute privilege to receive an email from Tetra Tech’s CEO Dan Batrack in March telling me that I’d been selected. And then, before I knew it, I was in the US participating in the first module in May.

QTell us a little bit about the program

It is Tetra Tech’s internal professional development program for emerging leaders. The company hand-picks around 40 people across all of Tetra Tech operating units worldwide – which now includes RPS. That’s a pool of more than 27,000 employees!

The cohort consists of people who are at a similar level in their careers – and the program aims to equip you with the necessary tools and skills to take the next step - and for many of us, into more senior leadership roles.

You participate in three modules across the year. The first was in Arlington, the second module is conducted online, and the third and final module will be in Pasadena, California in September.

Melissa Drake (far right) with Tetra Tech Leadership Academy group

Melissa with her Tetra Tech Leadership Academy colleagues.

QHow did you go in Arlington?

It was such a rewarding experience – both the learning and meeting new colleagues.

The first module focused on the topic of people, and covered leadership, time management, how to effectively manage people, and recruitment.

Plus, it was an opportunity to make connections with colleagues from across the globe. And there were some seriously impressive and inspiring colleagues there too. I learnt a lot about Tetra Tech and the diverse services and sectors it covers. Someone in my group was an AI specialist, which was cool. It was interesting to hear about the breadth and depth of work and experiences.

I also snuck in some sight-seeing while on the East Coast and spent a few days in New York. Stand out highlights include the High Line, Hudson Yards, Little Island and The Wharf DC!

QHow important are these types of career development programs?

I think they are extremely important for a range of reasons. By putting people from different parts of the business together it helps strengthen networks and create collaboration opportunities too. I met so many people who could potentially help on projects back in Australia.

I also think these types of programs say a lot about a company’s culture. I feel extremely lucky to work for an organisation that invests in its employees.

RPS has been a great place to work. I’ve had some amazing mentors and colleagues – and I think, now, being part of a larger company in Tetra Tech will offer new and exciting opportunities too.

Melissa Drake's photo of The Wharf in Washington

Melissa also fit in some sightseeing, doubling as inspiration for the urban designer. Here, Melissa captures Little Island, New York.


We are always looking for talented people to join RPS, A Tetra Tech Company. Please check out our current opportunities

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