Century West News

Spotlight on Anthony Fischer

James Kirby, PE is an aviation engineer, pavement specialist, and senior project manager who joined Century West in 2015. He has more than 20 years of aviation experience in the Pacific Northwest and leads teams in the design and construction of runway, taxiway, and apron projects. Throughout his career, James has placed a special emphasis on pavement maintenance and safety training as an inspector, project engineer, and project manager, including his work managing the Pavement Maintenance Program for the Oregon Department of Aviation.

We asked James to talk to us about what drew him to Century West and why our company continues to be a perfect fit for him.

      What drew you to Century West when you were first applying?

I had competed against Century West for many years at my previous company and knew they had a strong, established aviation practice. Through getting to know Vice President of Aviation Matt Rogers, PE, and President Joe Roshak, PE over the years, I also knew that Century West did high-quality work and their clients spoke highly of them. It was Century West’s success in the market that ultimately helped me decide to make the switch. I wanted to be where the winning was happening.

Coming in as a mid-career professional, I was able to have a candid conversation with Matt and Joe about having the latitude and access to the resources to chase the work that mattered most to me. It worked out pretty well that what I wanted to do aligned well with the work Century West was already doing and we all wanted to do more of.

One of the really attractive things about Century West was that there was a path to ownership. Century West being employee-owned with no external shareholders appeals to me. I’ve discovered that working for external shareholders doesn’t necessarily equal strong project ownership or accountability which is a key ingredient to success. The Century West culture is about being accountable to yourself, your client, and your colleagues and benefitting directly from not just your own hard work, but the success of our whole team.

        What has kept you at Century West for 7+ years?

I feel like at Century West I’m able to influence the way things are done and push the needle across all aspects of the company. I know I can reach out to people to offer opinions and insight and feel like my contributions are noted and appreciated. I can see change happen based on my input.

As a more senior staff member, I try and instill this sense in our younger staff. I want them to feel like they have ownership too. Century West’s success really is driven at every level, which is motivating for everyone involved!

On a project level, the discussion I had with Matt and Joe before starting has held true. As long as the value proposition is there, I’ve been able to chase a variety of different projects and clients that may not have otherwise been on our radar. While everyone who starts here has to establish that they have the fundamentals to do their job, there is a lot of freedom to chart your own course.

       How does Century West support you in your career goals?

I’ve been encouraged to chase clients and projects that may not be an exact fit for our past experience but dovetails nicely with our skill sets and teaming relationships. A good example of this is branching into hangar development. Century West has airside airport and site development experience in-house, but through our relationship with JRMA Architects, we’ve expanded our service offerings and have taken on and completed several hangar projects with others in the works. We can make a value proposition to our clients that engineering is engineering but the Century West commitment to quality service and quality products is a better guarantee of results than a plethora of experience on past projects. I have the backup from all levels of leadership to know I can deliver on that promise.

       Is there anything you would like to share with engineers looking to join our team?

We are looking for people to develop into the next leaders of our company. We want people who are looking to ambitiously pursue their careers and take on big responsibility. If you’re that kind of person, you are definitely someone we need to talk to!

       How does your career at Century West support you in pursuing your interests outside of work?

During my initial conversations with Matt Rogers, he made it clear that Century West leadership understands that people work so that they can also pursue what they love outside of work. I have a large family and am very involved in my community. Matt and Century West are able to provide the flexibility in schedule and travel planning to fit my work and personal life together. I trust that I have the support to take a family vacation or chase an ambitious (for me) climbing goal and not worry about whether or not my projects and my clients are being served in the way they should be. I know my team, from Engineers-in-Training to our President, are on it. 

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Engineering consulting is a people business. Every contract we sign is a commitment to provide our clients with access to our highest value resources: our employees. Our Spotlight series shines a light on the unique and talented individuals who help us deliver timely, quality aviation and municipal engineering and planning projects throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Who is Anthony?

A California native, Anthony Fischer moved to Spokane, Washington in the mid-2010s with the goal of landing his first civil engineering job. Having spent several years working in a restaurant and as a DJ in Monterey, he was ready for a more stable career. He joined Century West’s Spokane office in February 2016 where he worked until moving to our Portland, Oregon office in December 2018. Anthony is a Civil 3D expert who delivers meticulous engineering plans. He recently passed the Professional Engineer exam and has submitted his paperwork to obtain his license.

INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY

What drew you to Century West when you were first applying?

I applied to several local firms and didn’t have a lot of expectations. Our Vice President, Matt Morkert, invited me in for an interview at our Spokane office and it went well. He talked about the work Century West does with small communities in Eastern Washington, which sounded like fun. I was grateful for the opportunity.

What has kept you at Century West for 6+ years?

The Spokane office was a good introduction to civil engineering. I was always doing something new while I worked there. I did design and drafting for water, wastewater, and transportation projects, but also got to do surveying and construction management and inspection. I realized early on that working for a smaller firm let me do a lot of different things.

Century West was really good about accommodating my move to Portland. It was nice to be able to stay within the company and not have to look for a different job. I love working with Rawley Voorhies, Joe Jenkins, and the rest of the Portland municipal team. Right now I’m working on road projects for the City of Salem and City of Tualatin, and doing water system modeling for the City of Lake Oswego and the Port of Portland.

I also like that I have had some exposure to aviation projects. The first project I worked on in Portland was the Ken Jernstedt Airfield Aviation Technology and Emergency Response Center project. It was interesting to learn about Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circulars.

How has Century West supported you in your career goals?

I recently took my PE exam, and Century West reimbursed me for the cost of the test, a prep course, and my licensing fees. My supervisor, Rawley, encouraged me to take a few days off ahead of the test to study. Other engineers have told me that they felt just as supported as they were getting ready to take their PE. Century West is very supportive in that regard.

What are your interests outside of work?

I enjoy traveling, camping, riding bikes, gardening, and playing piano. I spent a lot of time DJing weddings in Monterey, so music has been a big part of my life. My partner and I recently had a baby, so add being a dad to the list.

Working for Century West leaves me time to pursue all of my interests. It also allows me to live in my favorite area of the country. We have offices all over the Pacific Northwest, so you can live almost anywhere in the region and have a good job with good opportunities.

What would you want engineers looking for a job to know about Century West?

We have a collaborative environment that lets you work on lots of different types of projects. A lot of companies say they offer work/life balance, but Century West really does. They’ve been flexible with my work-from-home schedule since the start of the pandemic and through life stuff like having a baby.