Peter Skopek, Project Manager of the Month, on Engineering Safe, Resilient Communities
Tetra Tech CEO Dan Batrack created our Project Manager (PM) of the Month award to honor PMs who demonstrate excellence in supporting our clients and perform projects to the highest standards of quality and fiscal discipline.
“Peter’s effectiveness as a PM and reputation for high-end geotechnical consulting has helped grow and diversify our unit’s service offerings for our clients and within Tetra Tech.”– Christine Arbogast, Unit President
Peter Skopek is Tetra Tech’s July 2022 PM of the Month. He has more than 30 years of geotechnical engineering and consulting experience working on various projects for state, federal, real estate development, and large industrial clients throughout the western United States and Canada. He has played an instrumental role in diversifying the range of his operating unit’s professional services. He grew a single-man operation to a team of 25 engineers, engineering geologists, and field technicians. He and his team currently lead more than 125 projects for Tetra Tech.
“Peter’s effectiveness as a PM and reputation for high-end geotechnical consulting has helped grow and diversify our unit’s service offerings for our clients and within Tetra Tech,” said Christine Arbogast, Unit President. “We are proud to have his accomplishments, and those of his talented group, recognized as PM of the Month.”
Prior to joining Tetra Tech, Peter was a PM and principal geotechnical engineer on oil sand mining projects and a broad variety of infrastructure, transportation, commercial, and industrial projects. His comprehensive project experience also includes forensic engineering and expert witness services, levees and dams, landfill design and redevelopment, and advanced earthquake engineering.
Peter holds a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Alberta and is a registered professional civil and geotechnical engineer. He is based in our Diamond Bar, California, office.
“It is always nice to be recognized, and being selected as the project manager of the month in a diversified company like Tetra Tech is a great recognition for myself and my entire group,” said Peter. “The broad range of clients and variety of unique projects is what personally motivates both me and my team, and to be recognized for our work validates that we are on the right track.”
We talked with Peter about how he supports and improves the communities where he works across a wide variety of projects.
How does your work as a geotechnical engineer support safe, resilient communities?
My team’s work is crucial in supporting the design and construction of key infrastructure such as railroad and road bridges, dams and levees, brownfield redevelopment and large industrial and commercial buildings. We conduct varied field and research investigations to identify governing geotechnical factors such as groundwater, earthquake faults, and difficult soils, and then apply solutions that address and mitigate identified hazards.
We recognize that the work of a geotechnical engineer is difficult to see when the project is completed, but it forms a true foundation for all projects. This is why we collaborate on all projects both internally and also externally, to leave no stone unturned to deliver safe, efficient, and practical designs.
We strive to make the facilities that communities rely on efficient, safe, and sturdy. On-site workers can commute by train to their jobs over reliable railroad bridges. Truck drivers can transport goods to local groceries over resilient road bridges. Water distribution plants can provide clean water from stable water tanks to residents. And students can safely walk up to classes on the second floor of their schools in peace.
What is your approach to managing a successful project team?
As a PM, keeping track of our progress and maintaining communication throughout any project within our group, the design team, and with the client is crucial, as we perform much of our work across a range of complex geologic environments and in changing field conditions. I focus on encouraging all team members to question everything we do. We have constant discussions about all aspects of a project, from optimizing field investigation and field logistics to geologic interpretations and development of engineering solutions.
This results in the involvement of all team members and encourages innovation. Knowing and understanding why things are done a certain way then results in professional growth for individual team members and the entire team. I believe that this “always question” philosophy carries well into our projects and results in thoroughly thought-out products and in our clients being consistently pleased with our performance.
How do you maintain client satisfaction across a wide variety of complex projects?
I believe that a satisfied client is an informed client. When we encounter situations that result in delays, more costs, or a need to change technical solutions, we involve the client in the process. This lets them know we are addressing their problems and that their project is important to us. For any unfavorable situation, we always present options including their pros and cons, and provide our professional opinion about the best way forward.
This approach keeps the client well-informed and, in many instances, raises our profile because it shows our ability to think things through and demonstrate a clear understanding of our client’s needs. In response to our effort and efficiency, clients recognize us for our excellent, quality performance and continue to reach out for our support on their future projects.