In this episode, I talk with Lisa A. DiGerolamo, P.E., a Senior Vice President at Paulus Sokolowski and Sartor, LLC (PS&S), who is known for her outstanding expertise in civil engineering and land development, about her incredible journey navigating the landscape of engineering as a woman, embracing challenges with resilience and wisdom.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Lisa:
- In male-dominated fields, what specific challenges have you faced in your career as a woman, and can you share some of your personal experiences in embracing challenges and overcoming these obstacles?
- What are some advantages of being a woman in engineering?
- Can you share insights about mentors or role models who have had an impact on your career in engineering?
- Have you ever had a mentor who provided advice, but also acted as a sponsor and spoke on your behalf?
- Could you talk about a specific project in your career that you’re proud of and what made it stand out?
- How does your involvement in this project showcase your contributions to the field and highlight the broader impact of women in engineering?
- What can organizations do to make engineering more inclusive and diverse for women?
- Can you share strategies or insights for women aiming to excel in engineering?
- What is your vision for the future of women in engineering?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Embracing Challenges and Shaping the Future as Women in Engineering:
- Starting as a woman in engineering, handling male-dominated workplaces can be tough. Acceptance differs, with some sticking to the norm while others give you the side-eye. Picture this: you’re the only woman in a massive corporate meeting with 20 guys, and a latecomer strolls in, saying, “Good morning, gentlemen.” Afterward, she apologizes, recognizing how unusual it is to bump into another woman in the professional scene.
- A significant advantage is the ease of handling discussions, as men often find it challenging to get into heated arguments with women, promoting more constructive dialogue. Another benefit, especially in the early career stages, is being underestimated, turning it into a strategic advantage for a sense of empowerment and an upper hand in professional situations.
- Lisa’s standout mentor wasn’t a typical guide but a client who offered more than technical advice. Beyond the technicalities, they delved into corporate dynamics, communication finesse, and effective presentation skills. Lisa realized that excelling as an engineer meant mastering not only the technical aspects but also navigating collaboration and communication intricacies.
- Public recognition from supervisors is key to career growth. When your boss introduces you, highlighting your skills, it boosts confidence and opens doors professionally. Being acknowledged within the company reinforces a sense of achievement and is crucial for career success.
- In downtown Yonkers, NY, a hidden river beneath a parking lot was transformed into a vibrant park, complete with ponds and a fish ladder. This ambitious project not only revitalized the area but also had significant environmental benefits. It provided the community with a peaceful space amidst the urban landscape, earning recognition from sources like National Geographic. Successfully balancing the challenges of managing water flow in a public setting, this project represents a career highlight for Lisa, showcasing creativity and public impact.
- This project illustrates how an engineer can undo past interventions, like replacing a parking lot with a beautiful natural environment using hydrology and hydraulics expertise. The passion lies in recreating nature and improving water quality. It’s not just a personal accomplishment but sets a precedent for similar positive changes elsewhere, showcasing the impactful role of engineering in environmental restoration.
- Though progress has been made, there’s still work to do in getting more women into engineering. Encouraging young women to embrace math and science is key, and organizations can play a role by offering support and mentorship. The goal is a balanced 50%, and creating an environment where women feel empowered in their engineering careers requires ongoing commitment from companies.
- For women to excel in engineering, determination is key, even in the face of inevitable challenges. Embrace resilience, keep practical gear handy, and don’t hesitate to question and challenge ideas in this collaborative field. Being a woman in a male-dominated space shouldn’t hold you back. Actively participate and contribute your unique perspective.
- A 50/50 representation of women in engineering is a goal for a brighter future. Women’s unique perspectives bring fresh angles to everyday challenges in designing buildings, parking lots, parks, and more. Their impact on the field is significant, and achieving this balance is not just a milestone but a catalyst for innovation and diverse viewpoints.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest: Lisa A. DiGerolamo, P.E.
Lisa A. DiGerolamo, P.E. is a Senior Vice President at Paulus Sokolowski and Sartor, LLC, renowned for her expertise in civil engineering and land development. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from Montclair State University. Lisa is a licensed Professional Engineer in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, and she received the ASCE North Jersey Branch Civil Engineer of the Year award in 2020.
In her role, Lisa oversees a technical team of approximately 50 professionals across multiple locations. Her extensive experience includes managing diverse projects, from pharmaceutical and corporate clients to residential, retail, warehouse, commercial, and public improvement agencies. She’s known for her in-depth knowledge of environmental permitting and is a recognized expert in hydrology, floodplain assessment, stormwater management, and stream modeling.
Notable projects under Lisa’s leadership include the transformation of the Sawmill River into a vibrant public park in Yonkers, New York, and the development of a 240,000-square-foot community shopping center in Clark. She successfully managed challenging projects, such as the Lakeside at North Haldon townhouse development and improvements for Federal Business Centers. Lisa’s contributions also encompass road realignment and freshwater wetlands permitting. Her exceptional leadership and contributions have solidified her as a valuable asset to her firm and a prominent figure in the industry.
About the Host: Tiffani Teachey
Tiffani Teachey is a Sr. Mechanical Engineer, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) advocate, TEDx international speaker, and international best-selling author of the children’s book “What Can I Be? STEM Careers from A to Z,” the STEM Crew Kids Adventures series, and three empowerment books. She is the host of the Read It Right Radio Show on WDRBmedia. Tiffani is the owner of Thrive Edge Publishing and owner/publishing consultant of Inspired Authors Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering as well as a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management, both from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is currently a Leadership Studies Ph.D. student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
As an engineer with more than 19 years of experience, Tiffani has a passion for inspiring the next generation to engage in STEM careers. She was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and enjoys traveling and being a youth mentor. For more about Tiffani, visit her website at www.TiffaniTeachey.com. Check out the free STEM gift – 10 STEM Scholarships & Organizations e-book at www.stemistheway.com.
This Episode is Brought to You by PS&S
PS&S is an award-winning “one-stop shop” of architecture and engineering excellence. The depth and breadth of their expertise have helped PS&S grow into a firm offering multi-disciplined, full-service architecture, engineering, design, environmental, and surveying consulting services.
They offer a single source for planning, design, and regulatory compliance services on diverse projects across several market segments, including education, energy/utilities, hospitality/entertainment, infrastructure/public improvement, real estate, and science/technology.
Having proudly served a sophisticated client base operating in numerous industries, they know the importance of developing on-time, cost-effective, and high-quality solutions to the most difficult challenges. For more information, visit psands.com.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you can share on how you are embracing challenges and shaping the future as a woman in engineering.
Please leave your comments, feedback, or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Host of the Women in Engineering Success Stories from STEM Professionals Podcast