Century West News

Spotlight on Lake Oswego Office Supervisor, Joseph Jenkins, PE

Joseph Jenkins, PE joined Century West in 2017 as a Senior Project Engineer. Over the last seven years, he has proven himself to be an integral part of our Portland-based municipal team. Working side-by-side with Municipal Business Development Manager Rawley Voorhies, PE, Joseph has grown his project and people management skills and took on the Portland Office Supervisor role at the start of this year.

In your opinion, what makes Century West a great place to work as a civil engineer?

What drew me to Century West was the small- to medium-size of the company, and that it is employee-owned. We are working for ourselves, not for shareholders. For me, it puts more motivation into what I do on a day-to-day basis and gives me a sense of progression, not just in my career, but also in the ownership aspect of the company. We have a good group of folks, making the day-to-day work enjoyable. There comes a point in your career where everyone has the qualifications to do the job, but do you want to spend 40 hours a week in perpetuity working with them? I can say yes for sure to everyone in our group.

What kind of support and professional development opportunities have you received from the company?

I’ve been given many opportunities to learn new skills or advance my career. On the business development side, the last couple of years have been great. I received a lot of support from my supervisor—Rawley—and with the mentorship program. The best professional development opportunity recently was being paired with Kelsey Parpart as my mentor for the first two years. She was a great pairing because I was starting to take on more business development tasks, and she’s our marketing manager. I’ve participated as a mentor in both years as well. I currently have Kyle Logan, EIT in the Bend office and Jessica DeBolt as my mentees. Jessica was an interesting pairing because she’s coming from the marketing side. We’ve been going onsite to walk through completed projects and walked through plan sets to help bolster her understanding of the technical side of our work. She’s also taught me more about how to approach proposals from a marketer’s perspective, so it was a good exchange. I think it’s good for people at all levels to participate in the mentorship program, especially to help learn acronyms, why we say things the way we do, and what we’re discussing with various engineering terminology.

What kind of projects have you worked on during your career as a civil engineer?

Before Century West, I had done some site development work and transportation, and now I primarily work on transportation, utility, and stormwater projects. On the transportation side, I’ve worked on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements, bicycle infrastructure, and Safe Routes to Schools projects. I’ve been with Century West for a little over seven years now. Before that, I was hopping around, doing my two years, then moving on. This is my first company where I became grounded and enjoyed working here. I was able to grow and work on projects I wanted to be a part of. It speaks to the company, my supervisor, and the folks we work with.

Can you give an example of a project you worked on at Century West that you are particularly proud of?

I’d say quite a few. Projects involving Safe Routes to Schools funding and others that focus on bicycle and pedestrian improvements are rewarding because we are making the community safer and more livable. Some recent highlights are the City of Tigard, Main Street Improvements, Phase 2; City of Milwaukie, 43rd Avenue SAFE/SSMP Improvements, which was the first large roadway project that I saw from early concept all the way through construction; and City of Tualatin, Herman Road Improvements, which we just wrapped up. I like the larger, half-mile or more street projects, where you’re making a bigger impact. It’s nice to work a full corridor with landscaping that we make beautiful; it interests me on a personal level.

How do you stay motivated and driven in your work as a civil engineer?

You must wear many different hats in our size of company because you’re working with a smaller overall staff, which I find exciting. It’s not often that someone is pigeonholed into one type of task, and my days are always different because of that. Through concept, design, and construction we touch every aspect of a project, so you get to learn the full life cycle here. It’s a great opportunity and makes everyone a better engineer.

Our client relationship game is strong at Century West. Our clients depend on us to put out good products and stay on top of things. It keeps me accountable and motivated because I do not want to let them down or let those relationships falter.

As I’ve progressed in my career, I’m now supervising people, which means finding work for them and helping them work on their own professional development. In consulting, our biggest resources and most important capital are our employees. We put a big emphasis on it here. It’s motivating to see people progress in their careers, succeed, and be an advocate for them.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a civil engineer, and how have you overcome them?

I was pigeonholed early on in my career and couldn’t get out of that without having to move companies. I’m glad I made that choice; it’s something that takes a lot of self-initiative and puts you in a place of uncertainty. I have a great supervisor here who advocates for me, but you really must advocate for yourself, too. Things aren’t always going to fall into your lap. Learning that early on in my career gave me the confidence to speak up for what I wanted, which got me to Century West eventually.

What are your interests outside of work?

I’m running a relay at the end of June that starts at Diamond Lake and ends in Bend. The running group I’m involved with, Portland Frontrunners, is sponsored by Century West. I also like gardening and landscaping. Our COVID project was hand-digging a six-foot-deep koi pond, which is still a work in progress. I have three cats and two dogs, and they keep me busy. I also enjoy working on the house with my husband, traveling, and good food.

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