The Ripple Effect : Q&A with Senior Project Manager Renee Groskreutz

What sparked your passion for working in the water industry?

I had been drawn to civil engineering from a young age because I was fascinated with infrastructure. I noticed and appreciated the power, water, roads and bridges that supported the different communities where I grew up. I have lived in Texas, South Carolina, Ohio, New York, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina and of course, California – each state bringing its unique approach to tackling infrastructure challenges.

More specifically, my passion for water sparked in college when I realized the sciences I am interested in, such as chemistry, biology, and physics, are all a part of water treatment. It’s been incredible to be a part of such an exciting industry and serve a greater purpose of stewardship and sustainability.

Tell us about your professional journey with Jacobs.

Interestingly, it almost feels like Jacobs has been chasing me my entire career. My first job was at Sverdrup Civil, Inc in St. Louis. Right after I left to pursue my graduate degree in California, Jacobs acquired Sverdrup. Similarly, after completing my master’s degree, I joined CH2M HILL, Inc. in our southern California office, which Jacobs acquired during my career break to raise my family.

Once I decided to return to the water industry, I knew that it had to be with Jacobs. I called my colleagues at Jacobs, and it felt like returning home to great people and work. I finally let Jacobs catch me; I’m so glad I did.

What is the favorite part of your current role?

The people. I greatly respect my colleagues and our clients’ incredible intellect, integrity and drive. As project manager and deputy program manager, I have the honor of building teams and empowering individuals. In water projects, we face real-world problems such as drought and the sustainability of these communities. It’s my job to identify, engage and motivate each team member to solve problems creatively and efficiently while building trust, clarity and understanding as a team. I am proud to work in the water industry in southern California at this time and with these people.

What makes a good program manager?

There are three things a good program manager needs. First, they need to be a clear communicator. Active listening is essential. They need to know what questions to ask and how to give timely, informed and thoughtful responses.

Second, they need to be respectful and respected. Each challenging discussion and every milestone achieved can build trust. Bringing a positive and encouraging attitude can lift the team and create space for innovation and creative solutions.

Finally, they need to be calm and strategic. Projects can encounter challenges throughout their lifecycle, and it’s our job to take those storms and turn them into calm seas. Program managers should respond rather than react, engaging the team to manage risk, deliver on schedule and celebrate every win along the way.