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Q&A Nov 4, 2022

Changing the World: A Q&A with Tracy Stephens

Aspiring Project Manager Tracy Stephens proves that opportunities to change the world are endless inside and outside the workplace.

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In 2018, Tracy Stephens joined Jacobs part-time as a recreation leader to pay his bills while pursuing his master’s degree. Fast forward four years and Tracy has since spearheaded award-winning programs for the City of Johns Creek, Georgia, established a non-profit in his community of Athens, Georgia, and continued to find ways to push himself outside his comfort zone. Learn how Tracy has aligned his personal and professional passions to create a more connected, sustainable world for his clients, colleagues and community.

How did your journey at Jacobs start?

I originally pursued a career in sports. But after a few years of trying to make ends meet, I took a chance with the Jacobs team performing public works services for residents in Johns Creek. I started out as a part-time recreation leader while working on my master’s degree. After graduation I received a full-time offer with a neighboring city and put in my resignation. The then public works director pulled me aside and told me about a position that he was opening and the unlimited opportunities available at Jacobs. That’s the day my life changed.

You’re currently working as a project manager intern. Tell us a bit about the program.

I’m participating in a 6-month project manager rotational program within our Operations Management and Facilities Services (OMFS) practice where I shadow, collaborate with and assist current project managers at different project sites. The program will help me develop the skills needed to become a well-rounded and informed project manager. I supported the Jacobs facilities services team in Orlando for three months and now support our public works team in Centennial, Colorado.

Why did you participate in the program and what value has this brought to your career?

I applied for a fresh start. I was at a crossroads in my career, deciding where I saw myself long term, and after having conversations with my mentors, I decided to apply for the program.

The program has pushed me outside my comfort zone and opened my eyes to the skills I need to be an effective leader. Each project I’ve supported has helped mold a skillset of mine and I’m thankful for these leaders who have brought out the best in me.

“I believe that you can do whatever you put your mind to regardless of where you come from. Don’t let anyone or anything steal the joy of your journey. When the time is right, the right doors will open. Remember that.”

Tracy Stephens headshot

Tracy Stephens

Jacobs Aspiring Project Manger

What is something new you learned last week?

I participated in a project management fundamentals course, a learning and development course hosted by our OMFS leadership. The course allowed me to network with current and future project managers and learn about the resources available to support us in these leadership roles. I now have a better understanding of what is needed to manage a project successfully and the skills I personally need to work on.

You’ve already shown some of your leadership skills in your personal life by creating your own non-profit, Dreams to Kings and Queens. What is the organization, how has it impacted your community and what are you most proud of since its inception?

Growing up I saw my parents work hard in their careers and find ways to serve those struggling in our community. I wanted to do the same and break the generational curses that exist within the community, giving our youth the boost they needed to achieve their dreams. I created Dreams to Kings and Queens in 2015 to help students in my hometown of Athens, Georgia, by providing them with the academic resources they needed to be successful in the classroom. The program supports students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Since its inception we’ve raised $12,000 in scholarship money, given away over 1,000 backpacks and helped fulfill 10 families’ holiday wish lists!

How has your community involvement impacted your journey at Jacobs?

My passion for community involvement has aligned me with likeminded people in Jacobs. I’ve also introduced my coworkers to a side of community involvement they don’t always see. When I was in Johns Creek, my colleagues helped collect school supplies and toys, and we would form an assembly line to fill up backpacks and wrap gifts for Dreams to Kings and Queens. Not only did it help the community, but it also helped build team morale and demonstrate that when we work together we can achieve anything.

Between your work at Jacobs and your work in your community, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned to date?

To be present and create a balance. When you’re passionate about your career as well as something in your personal life, you need to have a healthy balance so you can pour into what you want to accomplish.

  • Tracy Stephens with gifts for Dreams to Kings and Queens

    Tracy with gifts that were provided by Dreams To Kings and Queens for their annual Adopt-a-Child for the Holidays Program

  • Tracy Stephens hiking at Garden of the Gods in Colorado

    Tracy hiking at Garden of the Gods in Colorado

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

Hiking! Four years ago my supervisor at the time mentioned I should get into hiking. It has since become an outlet for me to gain peace of mind outside my everyday life. I often compare hikes to life: We struggle to get to the top, but once we’re there and look out on the horizon, the struggle was worth the beautiful view.

Hiking has had such an influence on my life that I started a hiking club, BLK Hiking Club. The club is a safe space for black men and women who want to get into nature and enjoy themselves. We aim to eliminate the trauma that some of us experience when going into those outdoor spaces. We’re now one of the premier hiking clubs in Georgia!

What inspires you to do better every day?

My inspirations are my family, my friends and the city I come from. All I want to do is make them proud. With their encouragement I was a first-generation college graduate and can show kids where I’m from they can achieve their dreams.

What do you enjoy most about being part of #OurJacobs?

The connections. With over 55,000 employees, I’m able to talk to people throughout the business about their stories and their career journeys. The network I’ve established is like family and has made a lasting impact on my life. I appreciate everyone who has supported me on my journey.

About the interviewee

Tracy Stephens headshot

Tracy Stephens is an aspiring project manager currently working in Centennial, Colorado. He has been with Jacobs since 2018 and brings passion and a desire to continuously do and be better to every project he works on. When he isn’t identifying innovative solutions for his teams and clients, he’s advancing social equity in the workplace and in his community.