TZL 1346 (web)



Better together: Karen Jenkins Co-founder and managing partner of Shear Structural (Chamblee, GA), a 100 percent women-owned and women-managed structural engineering firm.


J enkins has more than 30 years’ experience in structural engineering and design. A licensed engineer and architect, her background in both disciplines gives her a unique perspective for solving problems and understanding client needs. Her experience includes the design of corporate headquarters, mission critical, laboratory and research facilities, educational facilities, faith-based buildings, and a wide variety of adaptive re-use projects. “At Shear, we know we are better together because of our differences,” Jenkins says. “We value the depth of experience and focus that comes from diversity. I don’t think our firm looks like most structural engineering firms. The obvious difference is we are a women-owned and operated firm. We strive to maintain diversity in our group when we are recruiting and interviewing potential team members.” A CONVERSATION WITH KAREN JENKINS. The Zweig Letter: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely?

Karen Jenkins: We didn’t really have a telecommuting policy beforehand. We had flexible scheduling, so sometimes employees would work part days at home when necessary, but we had nothing formal in place. Overnight we moved to working 100 percent remotely and implemented daily video check ins and weekly calls, along with regular project discussions. It’s been a relatively smooth transition as we had a lot of the tech already in place to work remotely, just had never tested it out fully. TZL: Shear Structural was founded by three women. Can you tell us a little about how you got connected and what the impetus for starting the firm was? KJ: I had a professional connection through networking with Malory Atkinson, one of my current business partners. She was instrumental in bringing me into the firm she worked with to start a structural division in a primarily civil engineering firm. Holly Jeffreys, who is my other business partner, worked with me at that firm as a senior engineer on my team. Malory had left the firm by that time, but we stayed in touch, meeting regularly to


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