If you’ve had the opportunity to connect with Ashley Nelson, PE, Transportation Project Manager at ISG, you know that she loves to work hard and play hard. In this month’s Employee Owner Spotlight learn how Ashley discovered the transportation sector after the 2008 recession and how she melds her personal and professional development goals to be the best version of herself.
I have been fortunate to be blessed with some amazing mentors throughout my career. There is one particular conversation that marked a turning point in my relationship with a former project manager, Tom, from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), who I still call on for advice. It was early in my career and the market had crashed. I went from designing high-rise buildings to major road reconstruction projects. I identified a trend in construction errors that I thought could be avoided and decided to bring the information to Tom, the Department’s Project Manager at the time. He came across as very busy, very direct, and very intimidating, but he made himself available and would listen. His response to my discovery was something like, “You’d better be right”. I remember saying to him, “You are very intimidating, but…”. His reply, “I don’t mean to be”. To this day I still think about his response.
It was at that moment I realized he was human, and our day-to-day interactions were shaping my professional development. Tom became my project manager at WisDOT and agreed to be my mentor down the road. I think he appreciated that he had met his match with someone who would be as frank with him as he was with others. I cherish that about him and continue to learn from his style and professionalism every time I see him. He provided an outlet for me to ask anything—regardless of how “out there” it seemed. I’ve had great success with out-of-the-box thinking and asking game changing questions. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to ask had I not been mentored and challenged by Tom.
Hands down, the culture. I didn’t know how important culture was until I worked at ISG. Every other place I had worked was a job—here it’s an experience. People are incredibly kind and helpful. There have been numerous times when I have gotten off calls with individuals and just smiled for their kindness, expertise, and willingness to share their experience and knowledge. ISGers are extremely humble. I rarely come across people with a “know it all” attitude. Instead, people are comfortable in their position and are okay saying, “I don’t know, but here’s who you should talk to”. It has taken the pressure off of trying to be the best to focusing on being the best me, and leveraging our collective strengths to be the best we. This is one of the coolest teams I’ve been a part of; boots and all!
I earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering with an emphasis in structural design. Right out of college I was hired by the top structural engineering firm in Arizona. I quickly became the “go to” engineer for elevated post tensioned slab designs for high-rise buildings. A year later the economy crashed and within six months I was laid off. In retrospect it was a blessing as my father’s health was failing and I began to look for jobs closer to home. I interviewed for a large construction project that would last 10 years and offer some career stability. Two owners were on the call—one being from Arizona and aware of my highly regarded high-rise building designs; so I got the job. Later on, I was hired directly by WisDOT to design a mega project in-house and the rest is history.
I read a lot of books to expand my knowledge on relationships and organizational skills, time management, and professional development. I’m intrigued by why and how things work and continuously search for ways to improve. I also have mentors in all aspects of my life—health and fitness, parenting, relationships, and professional. I’ve always believed that you can’t segment your growth; you need to grow holistically or you’ll be held back by areas you aren’t addressing. I’ve made it a point to focus on all areas and live a purpose-filled life that will continue to expand for years to come.
Hanging out with our two kids and three dogs, picking on Dan, CrossFit, soccer, downhill skiing, swimming, running… I enjoy being outdoors when Wisconsin gives us those amazing days!
Be the best me.
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