Maegan Mansfield

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Sr. civil engineer, P.E., Veolia

Age: 30

Education: Master's of science in civil engineering, minor in mathematics, University of Kentucky.

Some of Mansfield's professional accomplishments include:

n Geotechnical designer, HDR Engineering, engineer-in-training (4 years).

n Geotechnical engineer, HDR Engineering, professional engineer licensure (2 years).

n Engineering project manager, P.E.- city of Paducah (2 years).

A few of the organizations she has been involved in:

n United Way, vice president, president-elect, president 2020.

n Charity League of Paducah, bargain fair chair, vice president, president.

n HDR Foundation ambassador, assisted in obtaining 100 year anniversary grant for LOTUS.

What is the biggest challenge for a young leader in today's workplace?

I believe the biggest challenge young leaders face is creating and maintaining a well-rounded balance. Young leaders tend to be naturally poised with ambition and dedication, which results in commitments to multiple arenas within the workplace, community, and family. Coworkers and peers often recognize leaders as dependable and reliable, which brings on many opportunities, quickly. Choosing areas of focus can be the most challenging proposition for individuals who seek to help others and succeed. Throughout my career, I have learned that you can attempt to take on the world, but in order to truly leave an impact, you must focus and dig deep on the opportunities you are working on--and everything in life--is just that, an opportunity.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

One characteristic every leader must possess is the ability to effectively communicate. In order for big ideas to come to fruition, it often takes many people at the table. Every project takes multiple people, angles, and interests in order to achieve the desired deliverable. Rather that be projects at work, or initiatives in the community, there is true power in collaboration. Maintaining a clear and concise approach comes through significant communication with others. I am passionate about organizations communicating with those they serve, so that we can better deliver tangible results for those in need. You have to know the need well, in order to answer with a solution.

As a civil engineer, I have worked on several multi-million dollar projects that are often laced with unknowns, tight schedules, and even tighter budgets. Whether it be designing Bluffton Parkway Flyover near Hilton Head, South Carolina or managing the final phase of construction for Paducah's transient boat dock, in every project the numbers and deadlines are only successful if people are communicating well.

During my time working for the city of Paducah, I attempted to make communication my top priority for every project. Specifically, the most challenging project I have managed was the construction renovation of City Hall. Not because of the price tag or the schedule, but because of the amount of people that contributed to the project. The $4.3 million project had many communication needs, as the "project team" consisted of staff working inside of City Hall during construction, elected officials, the general public, and the design team. Without effective communication, successful delivery of the project would have been jeopardized. During every challenge and unknown we discovered, it was my top priority to make sure everyone affected had a role in determining our solution.

I also think of communication being essential from an indirect perspective. When my 10-year-old cousin, Paxton Beck, asked what had to be done in order to install sidewalks from his house in the city to Clark Elementary School, so that he could walk safely to school, I thought of communication being just as important to him, as it was to the projects I managed. Paxton and I walked together from his house to 38th Street, going over every detail of what it would take to add sidewalks. We spent a lot of our time discussing the communication that needed to occur in order to determine the solution to his question. My goal was for him to know that while his interests were warranted, there were many different interests to consider. Paxton spent the next few days asking his neighbors their opinion on adding sidewalks, and I know we both learned a lot in terms of leadership, together.

As I have transitioned to my role at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant site, I have carried every experience with me, as we work on some of the most technically challenging projects our area has to offer. While as engineers, one of our jobs is to deliver the "math" behind a design, I would argue that being able to communicate our intent to the project, is equally as important as an effective design. Our designs are only achievable if we can accurately navigate how to safely perform the work with costs and schedules in mind.

These collaborative experiences have defined me heavily as a leader, and often resulting deliverables are far greater than one mind could ever imagine alone.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

My growth and development as a leader is multi-faceted. I have a tendency to channel energy into organizations where I can find passion. My drive and ambition is oriented around the ability to make a difference with the strengths God has given me. I believe making a difference is important through my faith, and seeing my growth in doing so, is always surprising. My plan is simple, if I see a way I can contribute, I want to be involved.

I grew up watching one of our community's leaders constantly striving to make a difference for our area's infrastructure, emergency services, and veteran affairs. At the core of his ability to make a difference was caring for every relationship he had. Those relationships meant far more than any award or accolade he ever received. My goal as a leader is to mimic what I grew up watching, which was leading through investing in others. For me, that means investing in my family, my church, non-profit organizations, and my workplace. I have always told my employers, my satisfaction in working for them is when all of those priorities easily intersect; which I believe is paramount in order to lead well.

Most importantly, being a wife, a mom to a little girl who packs life with a punch, and soon to be baby boy, has developed my leadership skills beyond what I could ever comprehend. They are my "why" and I try to see them in everything I do.

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