In this episode, which is part of our Women in Civil Engineering series, I talk to Denise Carter, P.E., the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at Greenman-Pedersen, Inc (GPI). Denise leads and implements business strategy across the entire organization, integrating GPI operations and services to optimize staff, organizational development, and growth opportunities. In this episode, Denise talks about how to build confidence in your career, especially in a leadership role, and how it can drastically increase your success as an engineer.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Denise:
- At what point in your career did you decide that you wanted to go into management?
- Management and leadership roles require skills that are not taught in engineering school. How did you (and how do you) build these skills?
- How did you build the confidence you needed to take on the leadership roles you have taken on?
- Can you advise younger female civil engineers who have big goals and aspirations and who want to build confidence?
- Can you talk about your new position of Chief Strategic Officer — when did you take on this role, how did it happen, and what does this role entail?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About How to Build Confidence as an Engineering Leader:
- Try to do everything you can at the company you work for. It will teach you important lessons about how the company works and what options are available to you. It will require you to stretch in many ways, gain diverse experience, and will broaden your skill set. As you grow, you will get more opportunities to move toward a career in management.
- Leadership and management roles require skill sets that are not taught in engineering school. Find mentors in management roles who have these skill sets and learn as much as you can from them. Get involved with professional and technical societies. They provide opportunities to serve the industry, practice your communication skills, take part in organizing and coordinating, and take on leadership roles.
- If you wait until you are fully confident in something before saying yes to an opportunity, it will be tough to move forward in your career. To evolve and change in your career, you must sometimes take a leap of faith. Remember that anything in a company is always about the people. Learn to trust yourself and your team, and do not try to be perfect. As soon as you aim for perfectionism, your confidence will be blown out the window.
- If you are a femal engineer who wants to get into leadership positions, you should build your cabinet and find your mentors. Be on the lookout and find people that you know and respect. You can have many mentors who have diverse skill sets so that you can get different perspectives on things. If you get opportunities that are somewhat different from what you are used to, accept them, even if you are not 100% ready for them. Get actively involved with technical groups like the WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar).
- When starting a newly created role in a company, like a CSO position, it will be a lot like transitioning to a management role. You can expect there to be many changes and new things to learn. It will engage many different aspects of your career in terms of skill sets and development that you have accumulated. You will have the opportunity to collaborate and work with the senior management across the organization.
More Details in This Episode…
About Denise Carter, P.E.
As GPI’s CSO, Denise leads and implements business strategy across the entire organization, integrating GPI operations and services to optimize staff, organizational development, and growth opportunities. Leadership development and technology innovation will also be focus areas as part of this newly created role.
Books Mentioned in This Episode:
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We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on how you build confidence as an engineering leader.
Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success