parametrix inspired people blog

Meet the Leadership Team at Parametrix: John Willis, PE

Courtney Purdin | 6-02-2017

Meet John Willis, PE.

Willis_John_17LRJohn is the Senior Vice President of our Oregon region. He has been with Parametrix for just about two months now. He has over 20 years of experience in transportation engineering including transit, urban corridors, aviation, and maritime. 

I sat down with John to ask a few questions about his experience, personal life, and get his advice for others wanting to follow in his footsteps. Read his responses below.

What did you go to school for and where did you graduate from?


I went to school for Civil Engineering and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University and a Master of Science degree from University of Illinois.

How did you get into this line of work?


When I was on a campus tour at OSU I was asked if I was interested in engineering. I wasn’t really sure what engineering was but I said yes anyway. I am happy I made that decision.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on in your career so far?


The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail has been my favorite project so far because of the amazing team that I got to be a part of. The team was built just right so that there was that “magic.” We all came together and were focused on a common goal. The end result was fantastic.

What is your favorite thing about your job at Parametrix so far?


What gives me the greatest enjoyment at work is creating opportunities for others to grow their careers by stretching their capabilities. I enjoy mentoring staff and engaging in my own professional development as a mentee.

I am really excited to be a part of a firm that has all the people in the industry I want to work with. We have a great combination of people and we’re experiencing a lot of growth, which is really exciting.

What does a “typical” week look like for you?


I’m not sure I can say this is a typical week but an ideal week would include working on pursuits, mentoring mid and junior level staff, and spending time with clients.

Tell me about your family.


I have been married to my wife, Sally, since 1994. She’s the world’s best wife and mom. We have two kids. My daughter Samantha is a civil engineering student at OSU. My son Myles is in high school and plays soccer with the state championship team. We have a cat named Rachel and we recently added a puppy to our family – Shadow – a 4 month old labradoodle. We currently live in Lake Oswego, OR but I have previously lived in Kirkland, WA, Urbana, IL, and Memphis, TN. I grew up in Lake Oswego and as the younger of two children I spent almost my entire childhood outdoors.


What hobbies do you have?

I enjoy doing anything outdoors (one of the reasons I love the PNW) – skiing, hiking, and cycling are a few of my favorite outdoor pastimes. I also remodel houses on the side. I wouldn’t say I “flip” them because it usually takes me a while. I also enjoy dee-jay’ing.

What experiences have helped shape your leadership skills?


I believe that the recession really helped me become a better consultant and leader. During that time I shifted from a seller-doer role to operations and really had to pay attention to the market as well as the livelihoods of people. From that experience I learned how to be more direct. I also learned a lot about the financial side of what we do as well as how important client relationships are.

What advice would you like to give to someone starting out in their career?


There are a few pieces of advice that I would offer. First, get to know yourself – understand your work style, behavior, personality, etc. The next is to always be curious. Learn to listen (clients demand that we are good listeners). Also, be flexible. Consulting requires the ability to adjust to different projects and clients.

If you could do anything in your career differently, what would it be?


I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve had in my career, both good opportunities and difficult ones. The only thing I might do differently would be appreciate things more while they’re happening.

The opportunities I’ve had have led me to Parametrix and I’m thrilled to be here. I can already tell that this is a great place to be.