Q&A Mar 23, 2022

Q&A: Talking with Alicia Falken, Senior Program Manager

We caught up with Alicia Falken, who recently joined Jacobs as the newest addition to our team of global program management specialists.

Q&A with Alicia Falken

At Jacobs, we understand our clients’ challenges demand innovative approaches so, together, we can deliver a more connected, sustainable world. That’s why we’re committed to challenging today and reinventing tomorrow with our program management solutions that go beyond the expected.

In this series of Q&As, we’re talking to members of our Jacobs team who specialize in global program management, delivering iconic programs all over the world.

For this feature, we connected with the newest addition to our team of global program management specialists, Alicia Falken, to talk all things career, what inspires her and what she thinks about being part of #OurJacobs team so far.

Alicia, can you tell us what attracted you to come work for Jacobs?
Without a doubt, it’s the Jacobs culture and the team with whom I’ll be working. When I met the Program Management team, I noticed their enthusiasm and how they work together. To me, that’s indicative of how you deliver for your clients, and it really makes a difference.

Tell us about your background and expertise.
My background is fairly diverse and includes aspects of business strategy and operations, finance and developing new solutions for complex business challenges, all of which are translatable to program management. I’ve spent the last five years of my career at an architecture and engineering firm working on strategy and operations with a focus on improving top- and bottom-line performance by implementing business operation changes and developing an actionable growth strategy. Before that, I worked in capital programs at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). And early in my career, I worked as a highway engineering transportation planner, where I developed an interest in sustainability and resilience.

What are you working on in your new role with Jacobs?
Right now, I’m working on initiation for one of our new programs in California. It really speaks to my interests in improving the communities we live in and addressing some of our complex resilience and climate challenges. And I hope to be involved in some of the upcoming work we will be doing in the Los Angeles (LA) area as well.

What are you most excited about in your new role as Senior Program Manager?
Transitioning from an internal role to an external role and using my skill set to benefit our clients on projects that will make a difference in delivering a more sustainable and equitable future for all. I’m looking forward to helping clients find solutions to their toughest challenges that incorporate benefits beyond the ordinary and expected. Jacobs has such a great portfolio of both technology and talented teams of experts, and I’m excited to bring those together to deliver something unique. This is also critical as we move our business forward as markets and dynamics shift – we need to build packaged solutions and productized offerings to complement more traditional professional services. I’d like to be a part of actioning that effort.

What inspires you – either at work or at home?
There’s definitely an aspect about making the world a better place that I just love, so that inspires me. The tangible impact of what we do for our clients and the world around us is really powerful – infrastructure, buildings, transportation – they all create such a lasting legacy and really shape the cities and communities where we live. When I worked for UCLA, I loved seeing the buildings going up and the students walking around campus. There’s something about bringing benefit to our communities that I find inspiring. And my kids inspire me too. I have two teenagers, and I told them I was thinking about taking a new job. My 17-year-old told me it was fine as long as he could point to stuff and say, “My mom did that!” – It’s pretty inspiring knowing they are proud of me.

When you’re not working, what would we most likely find you doing?
I’m a big runner, so you’ll probably find me running. I tend to do really long runs around LA early in the morning – I like how quiet it is – also, seeing the city by foot has such a different perspective. I also like a couple of the quieter beaches in Malibu, and I like to go to the beach for some quiet time to read, relax and reflect – it’s a really beautiful place to be.

What advice would you give to high school students or others who are interested in a career in STEAM?
My advice is to keep all your options open and learn everything you can. View your career as a series of building blocks – there are always new opportunities to reinvent yourself, build upon what you have done and stretch into something new. Always seek new challenges; they keep things interesting. Our natural tendency is to stay with what is comfortable, but trying something new opens so many doors. You need to allow yourself the grace to try something new – become comfortable with being slightly uncomfortable. Finally, exhaust every opportunity. Give 110% to everything you do.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
I was flight officer in the U.S. Navy. I went to flight school and was in the Naval Reserves Officers Training Corps in college. Also, in this “new normal” of daily video calls in business, people are surprised to meet me in person and discover I’m maybe 5’1” on a really tall day!

We know you just started, but is there anything so far you enjoy about being part of the #OurJacobs team?
I enjoy new challenges, especially those that build on my previous experience and the capabilities I’ve built in the past, and finding those challenges at Jacobs is possible. Jacobs is one of the most forward-leaning firms in the industry delivering some of the most iconic projects and addressing the future through what is being delivered for our clients today. Jacobs is truly living its strategic plan, which is embodied in the culture here. I also appreciate how welcoming everyone has been. Starting somewhere new is always tough but exciting; everyone is enthusiastic and encouraging.

Join #OurJacobs team
We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.