The woman driving one of New Zealand’s biggest roading projects has been named Project Manager of the Year at a prestigious awards ceremony.
Mercedes Santos, a senior project manager with the NZ Transport Agency in Hamilton, won the accolade at the annual Project Management Institute of New Zealand awards night earlier this month (Thursday Sept 4).
Argentina-born Ms Santos has been a member of the Project Services team for more than three years and has managed the Ngaruawahia, Hamilton and Huntly sections of the Waikato Expressway.
The $200 million Ngaruawahia section opened on time and under budget late last year. Ms Santos has also successfully overseen major alterations to the designation for the $420 million Huntly section and managed to get the project ready for tender – another major undertaking.
“The award was a huge surprise for me, and I’m so pleased to get this recognition,” Ms Santos said.
“But we are a team at the Transport Agency and big projects like the Ngaruawahia section aren’t built by one person. So I’d like to thank all those people I have been working with – inside the Transport Agency and outside, including stakeholders and our consultants and contractors.
“I love my work and feel privileged to be involved in such a challenging and important project like the Waikato Expressway.”
Ms Santos has a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) degree from Buenos Aires and a Masters of Engineering Management (Hons) from Auckland University.
She is a Chartered Professional Engineer with both the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ and Engineers Australia and holds a PMP certification.
She started her career in the water/wastewater sector 11 years ago in Buenos Aires. She moved to New Zealand eight years ago and was involved with design and construction of water and wastewater pipelines and pump stations and became increasingly more involved with project and contract management.
Ms Santos has been working for the Transport Agency since early 2011 and last year completed an Emerging Leaders programme within the agency.
The Transport Agency’s Waikato Project Services manager, Peter Simcock, said Ms Santos thoroughly deserved the award and he praised her for her commitment and outstanding achievements in managing major projects.
“She has shown a high degree of professionalism throughout, putting her sound knowledge of project management skills and techniques into practice, and combining this with her natural talents in the area of communications and stakeholder engagement and management.”
He said she had worked very hard to develop and maintain the best project outcomes.
The judges at the Project Management Institute described Ms Santos as a “true team player.”
“… and has proved herself to be a capable leader and a very highly competent professional who has successfully delivered projects through all phases, receiving very positive feedback from clients, customers and colleagues.”
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