Employee Spotlight: Isabel Al-Abed
Name: Isabel Al-Abed
Title: Project Engineer
Brief Professional Biography: Isabel earned a bachelor of science degree in Architectural Engineering from California Polytechnic State University. Since joining Lewis in 2015 she has served as project engineer for the University of Oregon Erb Memorial Union Renovation and Addition in Eugene. As a native to San Carlos, California Isabel is enjoying Oregon and experiencing all it has to offer—she enjoys hiking, trail running and often brings baked goods to the jobsite to share with employees!
Q: What do you like most about working in the AEC industry?
A: Originally, I went to school for structural engineering, but after taking a few construction management (CM) and architecture classes I made the switch to a CM route. I enjoyed the visibility of solutions that CM offered and the practicality of it.
I love that each day brings a new challenge. Getting to come to work and solve new problems and dive into new details keeps me engaged in my work. I also love the team integration and cross-training I get when working with the project team and subcontractors.
Q: How did you end up working for Lewis?
A: I grew up in the Bay area and wanted to experience a new city once I graduated. Portland was just close enough to home that I could easily go home to visit and the city seemed like a great fit for young professionals.
During my senior year, I contacted a few Pacific Northwest contractors—including Lewis—and coincidentally Lewis was attending a career fair at my school within weeks of me reaching out. I went to a few company information sessions during my job search, and they all talked about their teams being a family—with Lewis that statement felt genuinely true. I left the room knowing I wanted to work for this company.
Q: As a young engineer, what’s an average day like for you?
A: My day involves a lot of integration with subcontractors and the design team. Being fairly new to the industry I thrive in mentoring situations and find every opportunity to walk the jobsite so that I can visualize the problems I’m trying to solve.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: The people I work with. The atmosphere that exists in our jobsite trailer is awesome—the collaborative process that takes place when working through a challenge as a team to arrive at a solution on the other side keeps me excited to come to work every day.
Q: Do you have any advice for women or young professionals looking to get into this industry?
A: Being a young, female engineer has been a rewarding challenge. My advice would be to learn to be strong when you need to be while also being considerate of your peers no matter their role on the jobsite. Earning the respect of your peers will go a long way as well, regardless of your gender.
For new graduates particularly, I would say it’s important to be humble and be committed to being a team player. Having the ability to admit you don’t know the answer often will earn you more respect than being a know-it-all.
Q: What’s the best advice you have ever received?
A: “Part of being happy is not being tied down. Don’t be constrained by societies check list of agenda.”