In this episode, I talk with Indhira Figuereo, Senior Vice President and National Aviation Market Leader at WSP USA, about her journey in civil engineering, focusing on aviation. She talks about managing busy aviation spaces and balancing technical work with customer service and business development, and emphasizes the need for aviation sustainability in infrastructure projects and effective communication with various stakeholders.
The video version of this episode can be viewed here.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Indhira:
- After two decades in civil engineering, especially in aviation, what inspired you to enter this field, and how have you seen your career evolve over the years?
- Can you provide insights into the most challenging and rewarding aspects of managing high occupancy utilization spaces and aviation projects?
- How do you balance your technical duties, the necessity for top-notch customer service, and the requirements of business development?
- How have you integrated aviation sustainability and resilience into your infrastructure projects, and can you provide specific examples?
- How do you navigate and ensure effective communication and alignment in diverse environments when coordinating with multiple agencies and stakeholders?
- What has been your experience as a woman in the traditionally male-dominated field of civil engineering, and what advice do you have for young women aspiring to enter this industry?
- What trends or innovations have you observed that are shaping the aviation industry, specifically in terms of infrastructure?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Achieving Aviation Sustainability with Design, Technology, and Collaboration:
- In the high-stakes world of aviation, where airplanes cost millions, the navigation industry requires exorbitant insurance, making it uniquely exciting. Traditionally male-dominated, the field is witnessing a positive shift with more women, including CEOs, entering the scene. Beyond gender dynamics, advancements in technology and expertise have transformed how airport projects are executed, presenting new challenges, and making aviation work more engaging than ever.
- Managing high-occupancy spaces like airports poses a significant challenge in maintaining customer satisfaction during construction, as seen prominently in projects like LaGuardia Airport. Navigating traffic issues and aligning diverse teams with different backgrounds and knowledge further adds to the complexity. The ultimate reward comes from seeing completed projects, like flying out of terminals or using roads designed earlier in one’s career.
- Balancing a demanding professional life and family commitments is a significant challenge. Building collaborative client relationships, drawing from past experiences, and managing frequent travel in the aviation role add complexity. A supportive team and family are crucial in finding harmony, with the need to balance priorities rather than striving for a perfect equilibrium between work and personal life.
- In approaching aviation sustainability and resilience in airport projects, strategies vary based on the project type. Design-oriented projects focus on innovative construction methods, such as optimizing slopes for energy efficiency, aiming to minimize environmental impact. Program management gives priority to sustainable procurement methods and building a forward-thinking team for enhanced efficiency. In master planning, the goal is to envision the entire airport layout, strategically place facilities, and prepare for future technologies, ensuring efficient operations and adaptability.
- Starting conversations with stakeholders early in the process, well before their specific involvement is needed, is crucial for success. Early engagement not only facilitates efficient decision-making and relationship-building but also ensures stakeholders are well-informed and feel part of the team. This approach has proven to be highly effective in achieving successful outcomes.
- Navigating the male-dominated field of civil engineering as a woman involves overcoming stereotypes and biases. For aspiring women, excelling in expertise, standing firm in beliefs, and presenting ideas with a strong yet professional demeanor is crucial. The journey may be challenging, but the focus is on excelling in work and holding one’s ground without compromising principles.
- Airports globally are transforming to meet evolving passenger expectations. Innovations prioritize streamlining experiences, from reimagining baggage drop-offs to incorporating biometrics and facial recognition in the check-in process. The focus is on enhancing customer experience with features like advanced food ordering and wellness centers. While aircraft fueling advancements are in progress, the immediate innovation spotlight is on making the passenger journey more seamless and enjoyable.
More Details in This Episode…
About the Guest: Indhira Figuereo
Indhira Figuereo Blaney has over 20 years of experience providing planning, design, environmental, program/project/construction management, and business development services for aviation, marine, highway/bridge, building facilities, and transit projects. Her experience includes the management of high occupancy/utilization spaces, multi-agency and stakeholder coordination and engagement, resiliency, sustainability, and federal and state grant funding compliance. Indhira also has extensive experience in the planning, design, and construction of international transportation and infrastructure projects in countries such as Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Indhira provides leadership in business development working together with local, regional, and national leadership. She focuses on delivering exceptional customer service to our transportation clients, managing the customer experience, maintaining quality control, and overall technical responsibility. Indhira provides support to national and regional markets, helping to provide resources, technical skills, business development relationships, and quality.
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 has 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 achieving aviation sustainability with design, technology, and collaboration.
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To your success,
Host of the Women in Engineering Success Stories from STEM Professionals Podcast