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Q&A: Talking with Jacobs’ Ohio AstraZeneca Retrofit Team

Powerhouse trio, Jacobs’ Lindsay Gerding, Mayme Brusoe and Amy Gardner talk career, their project with AstraZeneca shaping a potential COVID-19 vaccine and what they enjoy about being part of #OurJacobs.

Jacobs has partnered with AstraZeneca to provide engineering, procurement and construction to modify an existing manufacturing process to support the formulation, filling and packaging of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

In honor of International Women in Engineering Day, we’re connecting with our team of thinkers, dreamers and doers around the world to showcase the work we do every day to #ShapeTheWorld.

We connected virtually with members of our Ohio AstraZeneca retrofit team – powerhouse trio Jacobs Program Manager Lindsay Gerding, Life Sciences Manager of Construction Mayme Brusoe and Project Controls Manager Amy Gardner – to talk career, their project with AstraZeneca shaping a potential COVID-19 vaccine and what they enjoy about being part of #OurJacobs.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

Lindsay:My favorite part of my role is working in a large, dynamic talented team that takes an idea and transforms it into a solution. I love seeing the ideas on paper come to life through construction. It is even more fulfilling that the solutions our business unit delivers influences the wellbeing of the world.

Mayme: For me, it’s helping interpret what the needs are to help make a path forward for the team to accomplish the project. To help remove barriers and drive towards completion. Interaction with all the varied team members from the craft workers on up to the client teams is what makes the job fun.

Amy: I’m a numbers person, and I love manipulating and analyzing data in order for it to tell a story.  Being in Project Controls also gives me the ability to have a holistic view of a project, working with the technical disciplines, project management and the client.

We’re publishing this article in honor of International Women in Engineering Day. What inspired you to pursue a career in STEAM?

Lindsay:  I’m fascinated by problem solving. A career in STEAM allows me to utilize this passion coupled with my engineering education to tackle the world toughest problems. My work is generally fast paced so I am continuously introduced to new challenges.

Mayme: I didn’t set out for a career in STEAM, I kind of fell into it by way of serving an electrical apprenticeship after graduating from college with a Liberal Arts degree in the middle of a recession. It’s provided me with varying opportunities both in career growth and travel throughout the U.S. and a posting to South Africa.

Amy: I grew up loving science and math, and have always enjoyed problem-solving and building-type activities. As I was applying to college, engineering seemed like the most logical choice.

This year’s #INWED theme is #ShapeTheWorld – you’re all working on a timely project with AstraZeneca that very well may shape the world of tomorrow– tell us a bit about what you’re each working on.

Lindsay:My specific role as Program Manager is oversight of the entire project to ensure we have resources properly allocated to meet our fast track schedule with the foresight to identify and mitigate risk to enable safe, quality completion while on time and budget. My role is about connecting the dots within the team and to keep a pulse on the big picture. I’m ultimately accountable for the overall project success and client satisfaction.

Mayme: As the Construction Manager, it’s my responsibility to guide and lead the Jacobs construction management team and subcontractors to successfully interpret and install/build the design. I’m responsible for a safe, timely and budget-conscious construction execution. I provide the execution strategy, help problem solve and set the priorities for the team.

Amy: I’m the Project Controls lead and am focused on forecasting Jacobs’ overall project spend against budget. I track our weekly spend compared to plan and analyze our trends to forecast what adjustments we need to make now in order to deliver the project within the budget approved by the client.

It’s inspiring to see a powerhouse of women in STEAM leading such critical work. How did the project team come together? Was the inclusion angle purposeful?

Lindsay:Due to the speed of this project, the team came together very quickly based on experience with this particular site/customer and skillset. It was after we were in the full swing of execution that I stepped back and recognized our project leadership team was a 100% diverse (gender, race, ethnicity, veteran status, ability.) So was it intentional on this project, no; but it speaks volumes about how diversity is evolving in the firm to allow this to be organically achieved. Also, what we consider as diversity has expanded beyond just gender and race.

Mayme: The way this team was developed is how we need to think of diversity in our teams – it’s an organic by-product of picking the right skillset to accomplish the tasks at hand.

If you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?

Lindsay:  Soaking up every cheerful moment with my daughter Anna. She’s 16 months and full of curiosity. I love discovering the world again through her eyes! After she’s down for the night, I’m usually buried in a book.

Mayme: Enjoying reading and learning, trying to improve my photography skills, spending time with my family and friends.

Amy: I have two sons, ages five and two, who keep me on my toes.  We’ve learned to be pretty creative with our activities given recent social-distancing guidelines.  I also love cooking and baking and trying new recipes. 

Most interesting career moment?

Lindsay:Early in my career, I felt I had to demonstrate what are viewed as more traditionally male leadership qualities in order to advance in our industry. I was typically the only woman in the room and most my role models in senior positions were men. I felt like an imposter trying to force this authoritarian style upon myself. Once I recognized I would not be successful with this approach and began to lead with my personal style, I started to advance in roles and up the organization. The foundation blocks of my leadership style are communication, collaboration and curiosity. The inclusive culture in Jacobs empowers me and others to authentically lead rather than adopt a “one size fits all” approach.

Amy: I remember sitting in a management team meeting years ago and looking around the room realizing, in this group that filled a large conference table, I was the only female representative and was the youngest by decades.  I started to question my ability to hold my own when I was so outnumbered, but also felt a sense of pride knowing I had earned the right to be in that room.  I’m proud to see how Jacobs has grown since those days and am confident that I won’t find myself feeling singled out in a conference room again.

What’s something you learned in the last week?

Lindsay:If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. Find comfort in discomfort to ensure you’re always personally and professionally stretching yourself.

Mayme: As I am not an engineer, I’m not as versed in the technical aspects of how the design professionals create their work products, so I’m learning more of the intricacies of those processes.

Amy: Not a lesson learned for the first time, but in the past week I’ve learned again the importance of saying no.  So often in both my professional and personal life I’ve overwhelmed myself by trying to take on too many things, and there’s great value in stepping back, evaluating what is important, and being reasonable about what I can accomplish and the time I can accomplish it in.  There’s no shame in asking for help.

Most proud career moment?

Lindsay:I had the privilege to moderate a panel, “Empowered Women Inspire All,” with our first female Jacobs Board Member, Linda Fayne Levinson, and our first female Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer, Joanne Caruso, at our Jacobs Women’s Network (JWN) global summit in June 2019. Drawing from their personal and professional stories, these dynamic women shared insight on finding supporters and allies, claiming your space and finding your voice. It was incredible to learn through their experience and to reflect how much has changed since they sought out to carve a path for future women in these roles.

Mayme: Successfully leading the phase one of a critical project for a major pharmaceutical client to delivery in record time – meeting an impossible schedule and leading the team that was working 24/7 for our clients and the patients waiting on the drug to be available for them.

Amy: In late 2016, I was chosen to be the Life Sciences North American representative for early-adopters of a new Project Controls tool being rolled out to the company.  With that not only came the responsibility of testing the tool, but also learning how to use it and turning that knowledge into training programs and resources for the remainder of the users.  To this day I still provide support to users and our development team as an Advanced Facilities Subject Matter Expert.

People would be surprised to know that I….

Lindsay:Grew up quite poor in a rural village to a young, single mom of two. I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. I’m proud that I didn’t allow my circumstances at a young age to determine my future. I relied on education, persistence and my passion for making a difference to propel me into a successful career.

Amy: Came to be part of the Jacobs family by chance.  I was on vacation and struck up a conversation with a couple by the pool, and the discussion evolved into one on educational background and career aspirations.  Both of these individuals worked for Jacobs, and by dinnertime I was on the phone doing an unofficial interview.  I formally applied to Jacobs once I returned home, and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Jacobs family?

Lindsay:  My Jacobs family spans six continents! Through my involvement in our global Jacobs Women’s Network, I’ve formed deep and meaningful bonds with colleagues from around the world. I’m grateful for these relationships as they have and will continue to shape and support my personal and professional progression.

Mayme: I’m proud of how we will help each other out to accomplish very amazing projects that truly help the world be a better place. I have worked for quite a few different parts of the Jacobs family in different business units, serving different market sectors and through them all we do incredible work that impacts our families’ daily lives. Of them all, the biologics and pharmaceuticals sector is my favorite as we have one of the most direct impacts on improving and saving people’s lives.

Amy: The roles that I’ve held at Jacobs have afforded me the opportunity to develop working and personal relationships with colleagues all around the world. I’ve been able to learn about tools or more efficient ways of working from teams in different regions that I wouldn’t typically interact with. I’ve been able to experience different cultures through visiting our offices thousands of miles away from home.  And, I’ve developed bonds that will last a lifetime with individuals I wouldn’t have met if it not been for Jacobs.

About Jacobs

What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable. We’re powered by more than 55,000 people across the globe who deliver innovative scientific, technical, professional and program-management solutions for public and private clients around the world.

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