They Let You Shine

October 16, 2019 |

Sarah Neisch wasn’t going to be an engineer. Growing up, her father, an aeronautics engineer, consistently suggested that she might want to pursue an engineering career.

“I told him again and again that I wouldn’t be an engineer,” Neisch said.

But when it actually came time to pick a college major, Sarah Neisch decided: she was going to be an engineer.

“I had always been good at math and science, and that major was the one that seemed like the best fit in the end,” she admitted.

Working toward a civil engineering degree at Arizona State University, Neisch learned about Kiewit from a classmate who interned with the company. He gave her an HR manager’s email, and she reached out.

“I came in for an interview and left with an internship. I’ve never left,” she said.

Neisch quickly fell in love with construction. After two internships, her first full-time, staff position at Kiewit was as a field engineer on the ARS Broadway Road project in Phoenix, Arizona. She worked her way up to the project engineer role over the course of the 2-mile, road-widening project. The project engineer position, which monitors and forecasts financial trends and coordinates a lot of the project controls and back-office functions, was a great fit and became a part of construction projects that sparked her passion.

When the project finished, Neisch moved back to Kiewit’s main district office for operations in the Southwest U.S. She worked on estimates and a few special projects before transitioning into the role of district engineer. She’s now been in the position for about a year.

Neisch says her day to day “varies wildly.” As a district engineer, she’s responsible for things like:

  • Standardizing project control processes for all district projects
  • Ensuring new projects have the right project controls and tools in place to get started successfully
  • Training employees in the field on how to use Kiewit Management System Powered by InEight
  • Mentoring new project engineers and being a resource to more seasoned project engineers
  • Working closely with senior management to develop reporting that makes data visible so that teams can recognize and address issues before they bubble up into bigger problems

“I love my job – genuinely,” Neisch said. “I feel like I have the actual ability to make an impact on large-dollar issues.”

This office-based, project-controls-focused role isn’t one people typically associate with a career in construction. But it’s a niche that Neisch found suits her well.

“With my experiences, I could go be a superintendent and be somewhat successful at it,” she said. “But my abilities add value in a project controls-type role way more than they do in a superintendent-type role.”

Neisch encourages anyone coming into the company to pursue those things they are passionate about, even if it doesn’t seem like a traditional career path.

“If you find a niche thing you do well, don’t be afraid to get excited about it and run at that part of the company,” she said. “If you’re willing to focus on the area you really excel in, the ones that light up your passion, this company has so much opportunity. They’ll find you a place to do that and be successful at it.”

In her own career, Neisch feels supported and recognized for her work.

“The people are the best part of the job … They support you, they have your back, and they help to prep you in any way they can so that you can shine,” she said.

“Kiewit is a company where the amount of opportunity that will be offered to you, if you are willing to work hard and you want it, is endless. There is no ceiling. If you are asking for more opportunity and more responsibility, it will be there for you.”

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