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Board Spotlight: Lisa Thompson, Board Member, WTS International

Lisa_Thompson

Board Spotlight: Board Member Lisa Thompson

Each member of WTS International's board of directors is dedicated to the fulfillment of the WTS mission by serving in positions for two-year terms. Lisa Thompson, National Director of Toll Client Development at HNTB, has been a valued member of WTS for more than 10 years and just kicked off her first year as a member of the WTS Board of Directors. In addition to her involvement with WTS, she has taken a lead role on the boards of many other industry associations as well as charitable initiatives, including the IBTTA Foundation Board, Georgia Breast Cancer Alliance, Ovarian Cancer Alliance Board, Georgia Council on Child Abuse, Chair or IBTTA Communications Committee, Chair of 2014 ITS World Congress Communications Committee, Atlanta Opera Ball Board, Peachtree Resurgens Board of Atlanta History Center. We sat down with Lisa to learn more about her involvement in transportation and her perspectives on the advancement of women in the industry.

 

WTS: Let’s start with your role at HNTB. Can you tell us a little about the firm, and what you do?

LT:  HNTB is a 102-year-old 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 and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. We work nationwide to deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management.

My role is National Director of Toll Client Development. In that role, I delve into a number of issues ranging from oversight of several international transportation professional associations to development and implementation of strategic communications initiatives for clients and business development. In the latter role, I work with clients to identify needs and challenges while working with HNTB experts and other team members to find long-term strategic solutions. My position within HNTB allows me to interact with clients across the U.S., not only in the tolling sector but other areas which may be intersect such as transit or even aviation.

WTS: Where did you get your start in the industry?

LT: I started more than 15 years ago representing transportation organizations before the Georgia General Assembly. Since that time, I have worked in the tolling industry in both the public and private sectors. I now work nationally with clients on a variety of initiatives such as DBE/Small Business mentor programs, strategic communications, development and implementation of internal strategic growth plans.

WTS: You are you passionate about advancing women in transportation. What drives that passion?

LT: What drives my passion? The examples set by my mother and grandmother. They taught me from a little girl that I could be anything I wanted if I was willing to work hard enough and focus on my goals. As I grew into a woman, I came to understand that not all women were given that same confidence building background. As I looked at the transportation industry, it was clear there was a lack of diversity and a need for work force development. I had mentors and champions throughout my career and believe, with great conviction, that given the voice my role brings me it is a duty and privilege to help others along the road to opportunity and success.

WTS: What has been your experience as it pertains to women in leadership roles? What have you witnessed during the course of your career?

LT: I am often asked if women are held to a higher or different standard of performance. I think that depends on the field and organization in which you work. For me personally, I don’t think I am held to higher standard but rather know that as a woman in a male dominated field I hold myself to higher standard as I am very cognizant of the fact that few women reach the upper levels of management or executive level of both government and business. Mary Peters, former USDOT Secretary, is a shining example of a woman starting from the ground up and working her way to a Presidential Cabinet level. Even today, our newest Secretary appointee is a female, Elaine Chao.

WTS: What do you think is the best path forward to making change in the gender makeup of the transportation industry?

LT: Wow…..that’s a tough one as there is no single silver bullet. Workforce development programs are a huge component and getting the buy-in at all levels of organizations is paramount to success. Next is the personal responsibility of women to reach behind and help other women. No battle is ever won by one woman or man fighting alone. It takes an army. Last is vision. This role is where WTS interjects so well. To fight a battle, you must believe and to believe you must be given a vision or goal to look toward. WTS offers that vision of advancing women in transportation through inclusion, leadership training, relationship building and a sense of purpose and unity.

WTS: Why did you feel it was important to join the Board of WTS?

LT: Hopefully, at some magical age we all know our strengths and weaknesses. Mine is the ability to build relationships, think strategically, and organize. All those skills I felt would be beneficial to WTS focusing on the area of development. Strong resources allow an organization to create a broader base of programming and other initiatives to move more expeditiously toward its vision. My goal for WTS is raise our profile, increase our brand and assist in helping corporate partners to engage fully with WTS.

 

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