Prentiss A. Shaw Discusses How Learning from Opportunities Contributes to Career Development
Prentiss A. Shaw is a civil and environmental engineer and brings more than 20 years of experience in the environmental management market focusing on solid waste management.
Prentiss has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration from Pace University. We spoke with Prentiss about empowering and celebrating our brilliant women engineers and raising their profiles to encourage those who aspire to work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
What do you like about working at Tetra Tech?
One aspect I feel is positive is the operating structure within Tetra Tech that has different business units. This structure allows for the feel and advantages—culture, a voice within the unit—of a small- to medium-size firm with the benefits—resources, market visibility, access to technology, diversity of projects, relocation opportunities—of a large international firm.
What is the greatest advice you could pass onto female students who aspire to have a career in engineering?
I would share that engineering programs should prepare you to problem solve, communicate, and prioritize. No matter your designated field of study, these skills open the door for a variety of career choices and set you up for success. My advice would be to put yourself in situations where you can enhance these skills, whether it’s leading a team project, participating during classroom discussions, involving yourself in a multitude of activities, or dedicating enough time to study.
What are the greatest qualities you may find in an engineer?
I find that many of our female engineers have strong emotional intelligence in addition to their technical skill set. Traditionally engineers are not known for having this skill set, and I believe these attributes make for a better all-around employee and office culture. When we have employees who can effectively communicate, be empathetic to others, possess self-awareness of their actions, and be more social, it’s a huge positive influence on the office and overall culture.
What do you look forward to in the years to come in the engineering field?
My primary area of practice is within the solid waste management industry, and I am amazed at how the industry continues to advance— whether it’s removing organics from landfills, capturing renewable natural gas, or increasing decomposition of waste within landfills through recirculation. The industry is constantly evolving. These constant advancements or pursuits make our consulting practice challenging but never dull. I look forward to tackling the current issues and being a part of the solutions that shape our industry.
What projects are you most proud of?
I’ve learned over the years that our business is about relationships. In fact, our business unit’s vision statement is “building lifetime relationships with our clients and employees.” I’m most proud of a client I have helped to maintain for more than 20 years. In fact, the managing staff and I are now good friends. Our business unit provides all their engineering, permitting, and operation and maintenance services for a multitude of solid waste assets, and I’m very aware I should never take this long-term client and our friendship for granted. We always strive for active communication, thorough and high-quality work products, fair pricing, and meeting deadlines.