WithersRavenel continues our Owner Profile series with an introduction to a relatively new employee, Mark Smith. Mark is a GIS Project Manager who joined WithersRavenel in November 2020. Although he is new to the company, Mark brings a bounty of GIS and other experience. Prior to joining us, he worked for more than 20 years both in the private and public sectors.
Let’s get to know Mark better!
How did you first learn about the firm?
A former co-worker contacted me about an open position with WithersRavenel. She mentioned how great the company is to work for, and said I would be a terrific fit. After checking them out online, it was evident that WR was in line with my interests. They were smaller and flexible with a work/life balance and had an innovative GIS team.
How would you describe your first month on the job?
My first month involved working directly with my department manager and learning about the projects my department was involved in. I was introduced to several existing clients via virtual meetings and email discussions. I have also been involved in project management including project setup, costing, and overall management. Finally, I was introduced to an amazing team who has been incredibly welcoming.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Typical days might involve attending project meetings with clients to either kick off projects or check in with status updates. Other days are spent coordinating with my team to be updated on project tasks and costing for future projects. Finally, time is spent updating project documents to ensure the group knows about existing deadlines and upcoming projects.
What projects or initiatives are you most excited about working on here?
There are many interesting projects within the Geomatics group, but I am most interested in the current Hendersonville Stormwater Inventory and Assessment. The project is just getting started and I am excited to see all the phases. Also, it will also give me an opportunity to learn more about the WithersRavenel approach to condition assessment and asset management.
How do you define success?
I define project success as delivering a product the client is excited to receive. They have been updated throughout the project life cycle and feel like they are informed about the deliverable. Ideally any setbacks are conveyed to the client to prevent future surprises.
A successful project lends itself to future work with the client.
Do you have any advice for other prospective WithersRavenel candidates?
My previous employer was a large company with offices scattered all around the world. While it provided many opportunities, I appreciate the small size of WR and how it can provide more collaborative and focused attention to clients and projects. The Client Success Managers, Marketing group, and staff professionals have been outstanding, and their support is key to winning work.
What are your hopes for our industry?
I hope we continue to utilize GIS as a spatial analysis tool for our industry. It has significant capabilities from environmental analysis all the way to Building Information Modeling (BIM). The evolution of GIS can match the rapidly-changing trends in our industry. This will allow WR to meet the needs of existing and future clients.
What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with WithersRavenel?
I was attracted to WR for its smaller size and its attention to employees and clients. I hope this continues and only gets stronger with the inclusion of new clients. We also offer a wide variety of services and I hope we continue to innovate our offerings.
Before working at WithersRavenel, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
A summer internship with the Croatan National Forest turned into a wildland firefighting job. It was a great opportunity to be able to work with so many different people including the Missoula Smokejumpers, the National Park Service Hot Shots, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fire crews. My jobs ran the gamut from firefighting, re-building campgrounds, constructing hiking trails, and developing a recreational user survey. The most exciting part was going up in a helicopter with the doors taken off so I could photograph the fire!
If you could interview one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
So many great people to choose from, but I would interview Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy being outdoors. Mountain biking and beekeeping keep me connected with nature and I enjoy the ability to go to places I thought I could never go. I also like spending time with my family, especially when visiting national parks or annual trips to Ocracoke Island.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My mountain bike. Despite all the crashes, bruises, stitches, and broken bones, it’s still fun to ride.
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