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Board Spotlight is on Michael Sweeney

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Mike Sweeney is a testament to the fact that you don’t have to be a woman to support the WTS mission. An Executive Vice President at HNTB, Mike has been a valued member of WTS for over 15 years and is currently serving his first term as a member of the WTS Board of Directors. As a Director, he is dedicated to the fulfillment of the WTS mission. We had the opportunity to talk with Mike about his passion for supporting WTS, learn more about his involvement in transportation and his perspectives on the advancement of women in the industry.

Mike, first off, thank you for your leadership on the WTS Board. We want to know what drives your passion for supporting our mission and to learn about you and your career journey. Let’s start with your role at HNTB. Can you tell us a little about the firm, and what you do?

I was appointed to the role of executive vice president by HNTB Corporation in January 2018. Since joining HNTB in 2012, I have held leadership positions including serving as New York office leader and Northeast Division president. HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure firm serving public and private owners and contractors. With more than a century of service in the United States, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure. We deliver a full range of services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management. HNTB is proud to support WTS as a Corporate Partner and believes in advancing women in transportation.

It’s always interesting to learn about where someone at your level first entered the transportation industry, can you tell us about your first job in the industry?

I began my career at Envirodyne Engineers in NYC in 1987 after graduating from Pratt Institute. I have been fortunate to have a variety of technical, management and leadership roles over the years and while I have always been based in Midtown Manhattan, I have travelled extensively throughout the United States.

Mike, it’s clear that you are passionate about advancing women in transportation. What drives that passion?

I recognize that there is a shortage of women in leadership roles in the transportation industry. We need to bring more women into the transportation field and, more specifically, have women in leadership roles. They bring creative, innovative thinking, while providing solutions in very effective ways. WTS offers programs that introduce girls to careers in transportation, mentoring opportunities for young professionals and professional development training for rising executives. I believe these tools are essentials and I want to ensure that they continue to be offered through WTS.

What has been your experience as it pertains to women in leadership roles? What have you witnessed during your career?

I have been fortunate to interact with women in leadership roles both in the firms that I have worked at and in the many clients that I have dealt with over the years. My experience in working with wonderful women has been productive, and I saw the great potential in their leadership for the industry. While there are many, two women that stand out for me and had the pleasure to work with are Jane Chmielinski from AECOM and Ronnie Hakim from the MTA in NYC.

Mike, would you share your thoughts on what you think is the best path forward to making change in the gender makeup of the transportation industry?

This is an excellent but complex question. First, it starts by having more women choosing to pursue educations with STEM backgrounds. Then we collectively need to do a better job in describing why one would be attracted to a career in transportation. There are many appealing characteristics to this type of career, and each person needs to find their passion. Sustainability, innovation, mobility, improving people’s daily lives are a few appealing aspects that come to mind!

As the only male WTSI board member, would you tell us why did you feel it was important to apply?

Promoting equity and access for women creates far better decisions and comprehensive understanding of all that is possible. I consider myself a “talent champion” who genuinely believes in fairness, gender equity, and the development of talent in our industry. Using my industry connections, I would like to enhance the position of WTS in supporting the growth, development, and recognition of current and emerging female leaders in the transportation arena.  I believe that I have been and continue to be an advocate and champion for the advancement of women in the transportation industry.

As our last question, Mike, would you tell us what strategies do you feel will help bring WTS closer to achieving its mission?

There are many, some strategic and some broad based. Maggie Walsh as the Chair of WTS International has empowered her new board to think boldly. We are wasting no time in developing these strategies to move WTS to the next level. Reinvigorated Chapter Leader training as well as very large classes of Executive and Mid-career Leadership Training on some of the early initiatives.

 

 

 

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