08/22/2014 09:57 am ET Updated Oct 22, 2014

Women in Business Q&A: Jacinta McCann, ASLA Executive Vice President, AECOM

Jacinta leads the landscape architecture, masterplanning, urban design, and environmental planning practice within AECOM, a Fortune 500 global planning, design, engineering, environmental, and construction firm. She is responsible for 1,700 people throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia.

Jacinta's career spans global practice in urban community planning and landscape architecture dating from 1981 in Australia. She has worked on transformational projects at all scales ranging from the Sydney Olympics -- heralded as the first green Olympic Games and encompassing the largest brownfield cleanup undertaken in Australia --to public realm planning and design as an integral part of urban regeneration programs such as at Mission Bay in San Francisco, Fort Bonifacio in Manila, and Nova Luz in Sao Paulo.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My leadership skills have developed through being exposed to remarkable people during my career who were generous enough to share their insights and values. My parents were both excellent role models, intelligent, positive, encouraging, and supportive of my interests. My education at an all-girls convent reinforced my belief that women can accomplish anything that we set out to do. This was drilled into us throughout high school and provided me with confidence to go at whatever I thought was important without flinching. A strong focus on teamwork developed through playing competitive sports and being in a symphony orchestra for 20 years has translated into my professional life.

How did your previous employment experience aid your position at AECOM?
I worked for the first 10 years of my career in a multi-disciplinary architecture firm. My familiarity with integrated practice and cross-disciplinary work provided an excellent foundation for working in the AECOM platform.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at AECOM?
Highlights include exposure to many brilliant people who continue to inspire me, whether from the standpoint of technical excellence or leadership skills. I continue to learn from these people. Challenges include maintaining focus and setting priorities within a very dynamic and complex large company setting.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
When I go home I try to really be at home mentally. I also try to be at home on the weekends which I view as my personal regeneration time.

What advice can you offer women who are working in a typically male dominated industry?
Be confident and speak up. Don't let the men talk over you.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Maintaining career momentum while having children.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's 'Ban Bossy' campaign?
She's right, a woman will be called bossy while a man is called decisive. Though I think that there are plenty of outstanding women leaders who never attract the label "bossy."

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship has been critical to both my professional and personal life. I have been fortunate to have numerous mentors, most of whom are probably unaware of the degree of influence that they have had on me. They range from teachers and academics, to my early supervisors, to wise women and men who have seen a lot more of life than I have.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Angela Merkel for her excellent judgment and her ability to focus with determination on getting results. She commands enormous respect and is a powerful leader, yet achieves it with a sense of humility.

What are your hopes for the future of AECOM?
To continue to make the world a better place through provision of infrastructure that shapes cities and protects our natural resources. To have our people be proud of what they do every day to advance our mission.