tremely grateful for the training I received at Booz and the exposure to some of the most interesting clients at Jacobs. I’ve also met and worked with some of the most talented people in the industry. When I was approached with the opportunity to build a strategic con- sulting group from the ground up within Woolpert, I thought it was the perfect time in my career to do it. I’ve loved the entrepreneurial environment and really appreciate the fact that senior leadership sees the value that strategic consulting brings to the firm as a whole. C+S: Woolpert CEO & President Scott Cattran recently said his top priority is firm longevity, shareholder value, and employee happiness. What’s the big cultural difference you are experiencing between Ja- cobs and Woolpert? EH: Firms (large or small), are ultimately a collection of people and shared values. Woolpert presents an exciting opportunity to be im- mersed in an engaging and innovative culture that actually “walks the walk” with respect to employee engagement and career values.
EH: To be honest, I can’t think of challenges or triumphs in my career that I can specifically attribute to being a woman. Since day one I’ve been surrounded by very talented men and women and don’t feel like I’ve been treated any different because of my gender. So, perhaps as we participated in Women’s History Month in March, part of my message to women who are thinking about a professional career in technical disciplines is two-fold: don’t accept a situation that suggests gender is a factor, and surround yourself with mentors (men and women) who share that view. Beyond your immediate work environment, profes- sional organizations such as the National Institute of Building Sciences offer fantastic opportunities to develop your professional network. C+S: You have a BS in Environmental Science and Marine Biology from the University of New Hampshire. This is not the most popular degree in the collegiate world. What drew you to this field of study? EH: As a child I wanted to swim with dolphins. I loved to SCUBA dive and snorkel and anything that had to do with the ocean. After a year or two of higher-level biology, physics and chemistry classes, I knew I was a better fit in the business world than the lab. At UNH, the environmental science curriculum included economics, business, writing, and public speaking courses. This well-rounded curriculum really set me up for success in the business world. C+S: At some point you did FAA environmental work in Alaska. Did you see any bears? The Aurora Borealis? Mountain tops and salmon spawns? EH: No bears or Aurora Borealis, but we did run into a very large moose on a midnight hike. Alaska is one of the many gorgeous loca- tions this job has taken me to. C+S: Any final thoughts? EH: Work-life balance is possible. Both myself and my spouse, Jim, have professional careers and have managed to find a rhythm and tempo that fits our family – daughters Maddie and Caroline, and a rescue lab named Deacon – that allows us both to be engaged with our children, and to concurrently pursue individual passions such as traveling and running. Don’t give up on the idea that work-life balance is an achievable goal!
C+S: When you were named to the NIBS Facilities Committee, you talked about the fact that you are not an architect, engineer or de- signer. How has this outside perspective shaped your career? EH: This perspective has proved to be a strong asset within NIBS and more broadly across my career. Diversity in experience and training allows our team to bring a more comprehensive approach and solu- tion to each problem. Individual disciplines or practice areas such as architecture or engineering bring a strength in that area, but not always a broader view of the economic, operational, environmental and social values. Integrating all those areas of expertise inherently provides a better outcome. C+S: You have risen to the top in an AEC industry that is still dominat- ed by men. As a woman, what were your greatest challenges and your greatest triumphs? What is your message to women who are thinking about a career in engineering?
RICHARD MASSEY is managing editor of Zweig Group publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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