December 4, 2005Her job: Vice President, Landfill Projects Group, SCC Americas
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I work with landfills to collect the landfill gas and utilize it as an alternative energy source. I am a project developer, which means my company identifies, finances and manages the projects. We oversee engineering and construction firms and ensure that the projects meet the regulatory requirements.
Why did you choose engineering?
Math and science were always easy and interesting for me. I initially chose engineering as a way to eventually pursue a medical degree. However, I learned along the way how much I love to solve problems and that's what engineers do. I wanted to work outside and be able to work on a variety of projects. Engineering offers a lot of flexibility.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I attended Washington University in St. Louis for my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering with and Environmental minor. While I was working full time, I attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston for an M.B.A. with a concentration in Finance.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
My career has been very diverse - and proves that with an engineering degree you can do anything. In consulting I designed various things such as landfills, roads, waterways, sports complexes, etc. I wrote reports and a workbook and provided training on these. In industry I managed large projects. Day to day activities included hiring other engineers to provide services, overseeing construction activities, overseeing budgets and managing environmental relations with local, state and federal agencies. I have been involved in human resources activities, career consulting, and training initiatives. I was also very successful in a sales role as an account manager with the general goal of keeping the customer happy. I moved from that position to an operations role where I managed the day to day activities of a facility. From there I led the engineering and environmental compliance for a company. Now I am in a role that combines my sales experience with my high level engineering experience. Regardless of my title or position, my day at work has consistently been the same. I spend a lot of time on the phone and in meetings. I review data that others provide and make decisions about how to move forward or who to hire that can help us move forward. I have a lot of flexibility, but that comes with a lot of responsibility. I have to make the right decisions in a timely fashion. I have to be responsive to a variety of people. I spend a lot of time planning and strategizing about how to achieve success and executing our plan. Most importantly I have fun. I enjoy my co-workers and what I do.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
Solving problems by creating and implementing systems that make life better for people.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
The classes were so challenging, but the reward was knowing that I can do anything that I want to if I set my mind to it.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am the oldest of four children. My father is an engineer and my mother is a teacher. I have been married for 13 years to another engineer who became an attorney. We have two children - a boy and a girl.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My parents have always played a large part in the choices I have made - not because they told me what to do, but because they shaped me into the person that I am.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I like home renovations, playing golf, and playing with my children. Being involved in the Society of Women Engineers has been an important part of my professional development. My favorite thing to do is lead workshops and provide training to help others enhance their professional development. Because of this, a friend and I own a training company, 825 Basics (www.825basics.com), that provides workshops and individual programs to help others succeed in their careers.