At MetroQuest, every member of our team gets excited about exceptional public engagement! Today, we introduce you to one of our very passionate MetroQuest All Stars: Chris Gravel! Chris is our most senior Account Manager. For seven years, he’s shown a genuine interest and obsession in the public outreach projects of his clients. Let’s get to know Chris a little better…
Chris, can you give us the 10,000-foot view of your role at MetroQuest?
As we’ve grown as a company, I’ve had the privilege to work with many government organizations, ranging from small towns, to cities, to State Departments of Transportations. I’ve also been involved with developing relationships among many of the industry’s top Planning and Engineering Firms, including: Kimely-Horn, AECOM, and Michael Baker, to name a few. I love discussing their outreach efforts and strategizing so they can achieve outstanding public participation outcomes.
Before you joined MetroQuest, what was your background?
I previously worked for Canada’s premier engineering and information technology firm as a Business Development Manager in a division focused on providing Earth Observation products and solutions to clients who were largely focused on resource and environmental monitoring. I had the pleasure of working with clients from around the globe and hone my sales, project management, and operations skills in a highly complex, competitive environment.
You’ve seen so many successful public engagement projects over the years. What are some of your favorite elements, common among these projects?
Truly hearing and understanding what the public is saying – that’s the success common among MetroQuest subscribers. Many of our clients end up with a tremendous amount of meaningful data following their MetroQuest survey. It gives them a platform to reach the voices that are normally not heard: people who are too shy to speak up in public, or who are too busy or unable to get to public meetings, or even those who are minorities and typically underrepresented at public events. Hearing the reaction of clients when they see greater participation and diversity in their results than they are used to is exciting for me! Clients that hear progressive and diverse ideas, and are willing to incorporate them as opposed to just accepting the status quo, those are the projects that I feel are most successful and likely to meet the long-term needs of their communities.
What advice would you give to government agencies and consulting firms about their next public engagement project?
Two things come to mind. We’ve seen great success with clients using social media ads to get their survey publicised – it’s easy and it’s cheap. Another fantastic strategy is to create a share kit for your stakeholders, media, and local partners with the message and branding you want to get across. These share kits should include template emails, social media posts, images, and whatever else you think would be valuable in getting your message to others. Share kits make getting the word out easy – others can engage and promote your MetroQuest survey by simply cutting and pasting the details.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m very passionate about staying active and spending time outdoors. We are blessed in Vancouver to have amazing access to nature and favourable weather. I ride my bike to work every day and am also an avid Mountain Biker. I can also be found paddle boarding, skiing, or hiking with family and friends.
You are passionate about cycling, the environment, and sustainability. How are you able to draw from these passions and utilize them in your role at MetroQuest?
I’d say most of our clients are dealing with challenges around mobility, the environment, and driven by a desire to make their own communities more livable and resilient. These ambitions speak directly to my passions that I try to advocate for in my own community. I see MetroQuest as being one way to help empower better conversations around community and how we move around the globe. I am lucky to be able to work with like-mind clients who value the voice of the public.