The AI Interview – Kirsten Bowen

Associate Vice President, Surface Transportation Lead Great Lakes: Michael Baker International

Mrs. Bowen’s experience includes the design of surface transportation projects, ranging from short subdivision roads to major interstates and railyards. Her project responsibilities have included project manager and project and design engineer for urban and rural roadway reconstruction and rehabilitation projects, municipal engineering projects, bridge rehabilitation projects, maintenance of traffic, traffic control, drainage, bridge inspection, pavement design, rail design, intermodal facilities, classification yard, right-of-way, and subdivision layout and design. Kirsten was recently honored as the 2016 Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Member of the Year for her ongoing involvement in the organization, as the Central Region Chair, member of the WTS Advisory Board, founding President of the Northeast Ohio Chapter and current programs chair.

American Infrastructure: How have you worked toward providing careers for women in transportation this past year?

Kirsten Bowen: In 2017, I had an integral role in both the Highway and Bridge and Rail and Transit practices for Michael Baker International. As part of the work I have done the last few years managing a variety of projects and coordinating with the highway, bridge and rail folks across the company, I have been in a position to aid in the advancement of some of my colleagues by providing them with opportunities that they may not have had if we were not working together. This includes helping them to develop their project management skills, introducing them to clients, and advocating for them when opportunities arise that they may not be considered for otherwise.

AI: How can other companies learn from your example of recruiting women for jobs in transportation?

KB: To be successful in any field, you need to build relationships. That is one of the advantages in being a part of WTS, you are building a network of fabulous women (and men!) that are motivated and accountable. By participating in the organization, you have access to all of these folks. I met quite a few of my close Michael Baker colleagues at various WTS events over the years while they were working for different companies. I also like to recruit from colleges. I am on the board for the Case Alumni Association and as a graduate of Case Western Reserve University’s School of Engineering, I like to give back when I can by participating in the Engineer’s Week Banquet, the Dean’s ShowCASE, Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable, and Scholarship events that allow you to meet potential co-op students or entry level engineers.

AI: What projects are you most looking forward to in 2018?

KB: I have been working on the Lakefront West Project (Cleveland’s West Shoreway Boulevard Improvements) since 2006. The third and final construction project will be completed in July 2018. I am extremely excited to see the final product. Working on this project from the preliminary engineering study through construction has been really rewarding. I am not sure what my next big project is yet, so I am looking forward to a new challenge.

AI: What is your current role with WTS and what was the highlight of serving as the president?

KB: My current roles are: Member, WTS International Advisory Board, Past Chair, Central Region Council and Director, Northeast Ohio Chapter (Cleveland). I am currently considering nominating myself for a position on the International Board. I was the founding president of the Northeast Ohio Chapter, so that was definitely a highlight. The Chapter’s 10 year Anniversary is in 2018 and we have had steady growth in membership, partners and participants over the last 10 years. I am really excited to see what the next 10 years bring.

AI: What’s the most difficult aspect of your job as Surface Transportation Lead for the Great Lakes Region?

KB: I would say the most difficult part of my job is balancing managing projects with all the travel and demands of managing clients, proposals, coordinating with colleagues, attending a lot of meetings, participating in professional organizations and helping my husband raise our special needs son. He is very supportive and I don’t give him enough credit.

AI: What is your proudest career achievement thus far?

KB: I am proud of every milestone I achieve as I have had to work really hard to get where I am; however, I do have to say that winning the WTS International Member of the Year award in 2016 was pretty high on my list!

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