parametrix inspired people blog

Insights from the Women of Parametrix

3-24-2021

March is Women's History Month. To celebrate, we asked the women of Parametrix about their greatest accomplishments, who inspires them, how the industry has changed, and advice for other women in the A&E industry. Read their responses below.

Jessie Rykels-Wilson

Jessie with her mom and two kids

Jessie with her kids and her mom.

Tell us about a woman in your life who has inspired you.

My mom, Sharon, is my biggest inspiration. She graduated from Montana State with an electrical engineering degree, earned her master’s degrees (EE & MBA) from MIT, and spent her career as a Boeing executive. She is impressive on paper, but more so in person. At work, she never shied away from an uncomfortable conversation and as a result saw the teams working under her excel and grow. At home, she never missed a school or sporting event and was always at the dinner table. She leads by example every day, never dwelled on the challenges, but focused on solutions.

What advice do you have for women starting out in the A&E industry?

You are your best advocate, don’t be afraid of difficult conversations or hearing the word “no”.  Speak up in meetings, speak up at happy hours and sit at the table. 

 

Jenna Anderson

Jenna with her two kids

Jenna with her kids.

What do you consider the greatest accomplishment in your career?

My greatest career accomplishment has been finding my voice and understanding my value. I used to be more shy and afraid to speak my opinion. Throughout the years, I’ve had a lot of wonderful mentors in my work and personal life who have empowered me to keep growing and pushed me to reach my potential. As my career progresses, I hope I can help others recognize their value as well.

 

Rhiannon Sayles

Rhiannon with her mom in front of Pike Place Market

Rhiannon with her mom.

Tell us about a woman in your life who has inspired you.

My mom has inspired me in so many ways over the years. She is the one who knows me better than I know myself, has always had my back, and always knows what to say to me. She has expected the best from me, and pushed me at times, and because of that I will always try to make her proud.  I still remember sitting in the car with her when I was about 14 years old talking about what a civil engineer is and why that might be a good career choice for me. My mom is a very strong woman and has taught me to be independent and go after what I want. I would not be the engineer I am today without the support of my mom.

What advice do you have for women starting out in the A&E industry?

The advice I have for women starting out in the AEC industry is to be confident in yourself and your work. It can be easy to feel like an imposter as a female in an industry that is male-dominated but don’t let that set you back. Use your voice and remind yourself that you have a seat at the table for a reason.

 

Susan Devine

Susan with her partner on a hike in the mountains

Susan with her partner.

What do you consider the greatest accomplishment in your career?

I try to continually evolve my career in order to learn more and be able to provide our clients with the highest possible value. Parametrix has supported me in this journey, from marketing coordinator in 1991 through project, program, and division manager roles. I’m currently attending law school (on-line), in pursuit of my Masters of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law to better serve our tribal clients and communities. The continual learning and ability to apply it to my career on behalf of our clients is my greatest passion.

Tell us about a woman in your life who has inspired you.

When I started at Parametrix, there were not many women in technical roles. In fact, I was the first woman in the Sumner Transportation Group in the mid 1990’s, leading our public involvement efforts. Not long after that, I met Kathleen Cassou. Kathleen was and is a trail blazer for women in the A&E industry, particularly in survey (one of the first women in Washington to become a Professional Land Surveyor). She was inspiring as a professional, an expert, and a working mom. I’m glad to call her my friend and mentor and continue to call on her today for advice and guidance.

What advice do you have for women starting out in the A&E industry?

Anything is possible! Seek out mentors, challenge yourself to try new things, and take risks. We are all doing something for the first time, and we all make mistakes that we grow from. Don’t be defined by gender – be known for your excellent work, your reliability as a team member, and speak out up meetings. Lead by example and don’t apologize for big ideas.

How has the A&E industry changed for women in the last several decades?

The A&E industry has been my home and my calling for 30 years. In some ways the changes are huge – we see much more diversity in our teams, and women not only practice in technical, professional, marketing, and financial fields, they are leading the charge. As consultants our job is to advise our clients, bring innovative solutions, and provide real value to the projects and the communities in which they are built. There is space in the A&E industry for everyone to be successful, and it is our responsibility to help new generations of consultants to achieve their career dreams.