There is something electric and mysterious about a construction site hidden behind a fence. Curiosity has a way of drawing us in to peek through fence panels and see what activities are hidden from view. Project Engineer Renata Popov can speak to that, especially since what first called her to construction was the gritty cache of an “Authorized Personnel Only” sign and the exciting sites beyond. “Construction sites appealed to my more punk sensibilities as a teenager,” she admitted.
Now nothing onsite is off limits for her as she spends her days in site offices feet from active construction sites, surrounded by the equipment and contributing to the inner workings. After she earned her bachelor’s degree in construction management at the University of Washington, Renata returned to her former campus to work on the newly completed building, the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health and is now working on our latest campus project, the Health Science and Education Building.
For all her admitted punk sensibilities, Renata is a dedicated, diligent and vivacious project engineer and the pride she has in her work is clear as day.
Q: What made you want to work in construction? And why did you want to work at Lewis?
A: Construction presents an opportunity to work with a wider range of people and professions than nearly any other industry I know of. I love being able to work with a huge spectrum of clients, trades and design professionals and synthesize their needs into a physical product! As a result, each product is a completely unique prototype of itself, never to be replicated anywhere else! How is this not the coolest job? I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to work in construction.
As for working at Lewis specifically, I wanted to work here because of this company’s reputation for exceptional work in the Seattle area. We always have a foot in the door on new, innovative projects that our clients are dreaming up.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a Project Engineer?
A: I love the tremendous sense of momentum that comes with working on a project. Whether I’m ready for it or not, the project moves forward like this great goliath. So, I’d better be ready!
Q: What project has mattered the most to you and why? What cool detail do you love most about it?
A: Working for one our big tech clients when I first started here as a Project Engineer was a really impactful experience for me, for a number of reasons:
First, it was my first time working as the sole Project Engineer on a project, which allowed me to get a more complete and comprehensive understanding of how all scopes interacted with one another. That heightened level of responsibility was both challenging and profoundly rewarding for me. Second, I had a chance to work with such an interesting client! They were a company with such a clear vision of what they want, and they were very open to share their perspectives and reasoning behind decision-making. They really set the standard for me of how a great owner’s rep behaves and what an exceptional client relationship looks like.
Q: What makes you feel fulfilled at the end of the day?
A: When I get to come to work and see the visible progress on the jobsite, there’s nothing more rewarding than that.
Q: What’s the most fun part about your job?
A: The most fun part about my job is working (and sometimes suffering) in a team! Being able to share stories and lessons learned with other Project Engineers and Foremen is so much fun.
This is the first interview in a 3 part series. Be sure to come back for parts 2 and 3!