Like many highly successful individuals, Maxine Hill, Vice President at WSP USA, was initially inspired by her boss and mentor at the beginning of her career, when she was a Civil Engineer at a small Construction Company in the UK. Early on, her boss shared what he believed to be the most important aspects of his job. Not schedules, budgets, or work, but rather the job of motivating individuals, no matter how busy he was or how bad of a day he had. He strongly felt that if your people were happy and motivated, your projects would go well.
You may be thinking that this supposedly ‘old fashioned’ advice only pertains to Project Management at the micro-level—for smaller, self-contained projects, but that is not so. According to Maxine,
“I’m currently working on a $4 billion, 6-year mega project—designing and building one of the largest transportation and infrastructure projects in the US—and those principals I learned early on are still very much applicable today, and every day.”
In her current role, Maxine is involved with ongoing cost management, status, and design meetings, but much of her time is also spent listening, trouble-shooting, and ensuring that the multiple projects she manages are proceeding according to plan. Her ‘mega-project’— replacing New York’s LaGuardia Airport Terminal B and its associated infrastructure—is multi-faceted and includes designing and constructing various components simultaneously.
In her Keynote Speech at IPM Day 2017, Maxine will be presenting The Unwritten Rules of Project Management, expanding on those so-called soft skills that are instrumental in delivering project excellence.
There’s no question that in the transportation industry, projects are getting bigger and more complicated, as well as incredibly fast paced—and with that comes more risk. In terms of change management, mitigating that risk has become increasingly important to the Project Management role. To deliver successful projects and motivate others to do so, Maxine feels that her job is orchestra leader, teacher, parent, and counselor—so she whole-heartedly subscribes to the principals learned early on.
While her job requires local and regional knowledge, Maxine also takes advantage of WSP being a global company. According to Maxine, “The benefits that WSP brings to the table, include collaboration and global networking, as well as technical specialties, such as aviation design.” These make handling complexities of her job feasible and enjoyable.
Maxine, who is British, came to the US five years ago to work for WSP, formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. She has a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering, initially working for a construction company and later moving to the owner side of the business at Siemens. Prior to moving to the US, she managed engineering projects for Jacobs in the UK. Maxine managed her first construction site at age 27. Today, she has approximately 400 people who work under her guidance at WSP for the LaGuardia mega-project.
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