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.