GHA Connections: Julie Roberts

 

Julie Roberts’ path to the Transportation Services Division at Gewalt Hamilton Associates, Inc. (GHA) began with a pivotal encounter. During a visit to the University of Detroit Mercy for the Engineering and Science Department’s Board of Advisors, GHA Co-founder Robert Hamilton had lunch with a group of aspiring civil engineering students, among them Julie Roberts. Impressed by her role as the president of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Bob immediately noted her exceptional knowledge and leadership. He recalls, “Julie’s leadership and expertise, particularly as president of the ASCE student chapter, were striking. We connected quite nicely, and I was impressed with her knowledge and positive personality.”

Soon after, when seeking internship opportunities, Julie reached out to Bob with her resume. Upon receiving her resume, a recently retired Bob did not hesitate to recommend her to GHA. “As soon as I received Julie’s resume, I immediately recommended her for the program,” Bob recalled. Julie’s impressive qualifications and passion for civil engineering made her a standout candidate for GHA’s internship program, setting the stage for a journey that would allow her to create a lasting impact on both the projects and culture at GHA. Reflecting on the beginning of her professional career, Julie shares, “Meeting Bob was a turning point for me. His guidance and GHA’s welcoming environment were important in shaping my career.”

Julie’s internship at GHA played a crucial role in her development as a civil engineer. Over her summer as an intern, she immersed herself in all aspects of engineering from design work to site visits for a wide range of projects. Julie fondly recalls, “The number of different opportunities that were available was exciting. I gained valuable insights from everybody involved in each project, from design to construction.”

Her hands-on experience was more than just educational—it was transformative. Through her different roles on projects, Julie saw the impact of field decisions on design strategies and vice versa. This observation sharpened her understanding of the direct link between practical challenges and design solutions. Her insights led to a greater appreciation for civil engineering’s complexity, showcasing the value of blending fieldwork with strategic design to create innovative solutions. After completing her internship, Julie transitioned to a full-time role in the Transportation Services Division, where her comprehensive understanding of all project phases proved to be invaluable. This insight into the relationship between fieldwork and design strategies significantly enhanced her contributions to the division and its projects.

Todd Gordon, GHA CEO, noted Julie’s remarkable ability to integrate practical experience with design concepts early in her career, “Julie’s ability to take her time in the field and apply it to design work was impressive. It was exciting to see such a seamless blend of on-site experiences with design principles in a young engineer.”

By emphasizing the importance of fieldwork in enhancing design knowledge, Julie’s early experience at GHA was foundational to her nuanced understanding of civil engineering. This blend of theory and hands-on experience was crucial during her work on the Molidor Road project in Grant Township. Julie not only contributed to the design but also provided construction observation, seamlessly bridging the gap between design conception and construction reality. Her multifaceted role helped ensure the project’s design integrity and execution from start to finish.

Julie’s involvement with every stage of the Molidor Road project showed the significance of a hands-on approach in civil engineering. “Seeing a project evolve from the first sketch to the final product is incredibly rewarding,” she reflects. “My involvement with the Molidor Road project showed me the benefits of being involved in all project phases.” Julie’s journey at GHA exemplifies our belief comprehensive engagement in all phases of a project provides a catalyst for growth and innovation.

While at the University of Detroit Mercy, Julie had her first foray into leadership as the Captain of the Concrete Canoe Team. This experience allowed her to develop leadership skills that complemented the technical knowledge she was acquiring. Coordination, project management, and navigating team dynamics were key aspects of her role, providing her with valuable lessons in responsibility, teamwork, and communication.

Reflecting on this period, Julie noted, “Leading the Concrete Canoe Team was my first real taste of leadership, teaching me the importance of clear communication and collaborative problem-solving.” Her academic path supported this growth, with a minor in leadership studies deepening her understanding of leadership styles and group dynamics.

Developing her leadership skills during college laid a solid foundation for Julie’s professional career, where she was recently selected for the 2023 class of the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association Emerging Leaders Program. This achievement is a testament to her growing influence at GHA and in the field of transportation engineering.

Matt Turk, Director of Transportation Services at GHA, who played a key role in nominating Julie for the program, remarked, “Julie’s selection for this prestigious program was a no-brainer. Her leadership skills, combined with her technical acumen, make her a standout professional.” This recognition highlights Julie’s individual talents and shows GHA’s commitment to fostering and promoting emerging leaders within the industry.

EPN Whirlyball Outing

Julie’s leadership potential was evident early in her career at GHA, exemplified by her role in leading GHA’s Emerging Professionals Network (EPN). This initiative was driven by a desire for a space for young professionals to come together and network, share ideas, and promote professional development. “The initial EPN meeting was designed as an open forum, with a simple question on the whiteboard: ‘What do you want from the EPN?’ This allowed us to collectively define the group’s future direction, objectives, and framework,” Julie recalled, emphasizing the value of collaborative input in the early stages of the EPN. Since that first meeting, the EPN has grown into a vibrant community within GHA, supporting the growth and development of its members while aligning with the company’s commitment to supporting emerging talent. “Seeing the EPN grow from that first meeting into a thriving community within GHA has been incredibly rewarding,” Julie reflects. “It’s a testament to what we can achieve when we come together, it’s something I’m very proud of.”

Away from work and her contributions to the EPN, Julie finds joy in the company of her beloved Corgis, cherishing the downtime and the unconditional love they offer. Whether it’s a long walk in the park or simply lounging together at home, Julie treasures every moment spent with them. Their spirited companionship provides a joyful balance to her busy life. “After a day’s work, there’s nothing like unwinding with my Corgis, Winston and Windsor. They’re the real bosses at home,” Julie quips with a smile.

When she isn’t spending time with her four-legged companions, Julie is often found spending time with her nieces and nephews or immersed in DIY home improvement projects. Her current DIY project is a labor of love, carefully restoring her kitchen to its original allure. Even amidst the dust and paint, her Corgis remain close by, overseeing the progress. “They’re pretty good project managers,” Julie jests.

Julie Roberts’ connection with GHA goes beyond her responsibilities in the Transportation Services Division and with the EPN. She values the company’s unique culture, which resonates deeply with her personal values, particularly GHA’s dedication to its employees. “GHA is not just a workplace; it’s a community that values strong connections,” she notes. Julie Roberts embodies the spirit of GHA through her dedication and innovative approach, making significant contributions not only to the projects she works on, but GHA overall.