Current Student Credits EMDC For Promotion

Melissa Meade (EMDC ʼ22) oversees 10 teams in her new role at Woolpert, where she uses leadership techniques and organizational skills she's learning in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction program.

Melissa Meade (EMDC '22)Melissa Meade had worked in construction and design for more than a decade when she enrolled in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program. Now about halfway through the program, she appreciates being able to collaborate with professionals, share her own personal experiences in the field, and learn from other students and the class material.

Meade (EMDC ʼ22) applies the knowledge gained in EMDC at Woolpert, an architecture, engineering, geospatial, and strategic consulting firm, where she's worked since 2016. Included in her Woolpert portfolio is the refurbishment of the Bushnell building in Springfield, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers obtained their patent for the airplane in 1906.  

Earlier this year, Meade was promoted to discipline leader in Woolpert’s Buildings Engineering sector. She recently discussed her new position and how the program continues to help her grow.  

What do you do as a discipline leader at Woolpert?

I manage our civil, planning, landscape architecture, sustainability, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, communications technology, and fire protection teams. My job is to facilitate collaboration so we can provide our clients design and construction documents for their projects. I get to work with some of the best architects, engineers, designers, planners, and people in the industry. We work on projects all over the world. I like to say that as engineers, we help turn dreams into reality. 

You are taking courses while still working full-time. How has your EMDC education helped you in your career?

I credit my recent advancement in my company to the executive leadership topics we have been studying in the EMDC program. I’ve implemented leadership techniques, communication skills, financial understanding, and knowledge of the bigger picture strategies I've been learning in class quite a bit over the last year – and my C-suite has noticed.

Why was it important to study executive management?

Executive management is about thinking macro-level and being able to see further than the details at the project level. As an engineer, it is easy to get caught up in the calculations, physics, equations, and models in a design, but business success isn’t built on those things. Business success is built on leadership, financial understanding, and maintaining a great culture at your firm. Through studying executive management I’ve been exposed to these topics and been given tools that I can use to continue to grow.

What communication strategies do you use to ensure you get your message across clearly to your co-workers and clients?

Collaboration across disciplines and across markets is key to project success. The first step to successful communication is to understand the style of the other person and to shift your own style to match theirs. I lead a very diverse group and we work on all sorts of projects, from aviation and military bases to elementary schools and utility plants. Each of our engineers is unique and each of our clients is unique. Personal flexibility is key to successful leadership.  

How do you keep all the different projects organized and ontrack?

One organizational strategy I use is to present information not less than three times, while making sure it is presented in a different format each time. For example, when rolling out a new design to a client, first we hold an online video meeting with a virtual walkthrough, then we highlight the changes in a diagram, and then we follow up with one-on-one phone calls. At first this can seem like a lot of effort, but I have found that when you present your message across multiple personality methods, there is less confusion and fewer questions after the fact.

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