Career Story: Project Manager For A Power Company

Project Manager For A Power Company

Job Title: Project Manager

Type of Company: My company develops and operates power plants that generate power by burning solid waste.

Education: BA, Civil Engineering, University of Vermont •• MA, Geoenvironmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts •• MA, Project Management/Leadership, Northeastern University

Previous Experience: After college, I worked for an engineering consulting firm as a field engineer on several civil/environmental construction projects. After a year of this, I was promoted to staff engineer and later project manager at the same company. After five years, I changed companies to become a regional engineer for one of my industrial clients. I have been with this company for about ten years and am presently a corporate engineer serving over 20 power generation plants across the U.S.

Job Tasks: I am a member of the corporate engineering department at my company. The department consists of about 10 engineers. In my job, I primarily manage development, permitting, and construction projects at my company's existing facilities or at new facilities we are trying to build.

I spend roughly 40% of my time on financial issues like creating cost budgets, tracking ongoing costs, and forecasting upcoming costs; 30% managing and reviewing work by engineering consulting firms that we hire; 20% working with state and local regulatory agencies on permitting and compliance issues; and 10% managing internal human resources.

In a typical work week, I travel to two or three different plants that we operate. The main sites I am currently working on are located in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but I have also worked on extended projects in Florida and Maryland. I will generally be in my base office only one day a week.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I can use my engineering skills such as logic and organization to develop strategic plans for building new facilities, permitting new practices, and solving equipment problems. I also get to travel to many facilities and work with experienced, talented, and motivated people from all over the U.S.

Ours is a publicly-traded company and one of the worst parts of my job is having to cut costs or jobs in order to appease our stockholders, even though the company is still quite profitable.

Job Tips: While getting my undergraduate degree, I wish I had also taken some business or finance courses. It would have been very helpful to an entry-level engineer to have a better understanding of key terms in the business language right from the start.

During your undergraduate years, I recommend getting an internship or summer job at a company in the general industry or business sector that you are interested in. This experience is highly regarded on your resume when looking for an entry-level position.

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