Q&A with Mindy Haffke, IMEG’s youngest client executive
Mindy Haffke is IMEG’s youngest client executive. She is a registered professional mechanical engineer and leads the team in IMEG’s Las Vegas office. Mindy talks about her early career, her team, and her bucket list in the following Q&A.
Q. What led to your interest in mechanical engineering and design?
A. What led me to be interested in mechanical engineering and design is being part of a family of engineers to admire and follow in their footsteps. I naturally excelled in math, but never realized I wanted to become an engineer until I entered college. My family helped me realize engineering is a profession I could try and supported me ever since.
Q. What steps led you to where you are today, the youngest client executive at IMEG?
A. Taking risks and perseverance led me to where I am today. My career path was not easy, but I never let anyone or anything stop me from achieving my goals. When I first started my career, I was in the manufacturing industry, where a Professional Engineering license was not required. Colleagues told me I was wasting my time studying for “a piece of paper” and the Director of Engineering even threatened that I wouldn’t be promoted if I became licensed. I didn’t listen to the negative comments. I continued my engineering journey, where that “piece of paper” opened more doors for me and is my differentiator from other designers. Next, I decided to enroll in graduate school. Shortly after finishing my first semester in the Executive MBA program, that “piece of paper” led me to the A&E Construction industry. Achieving two goals simultaneously was very challenging, but I remained focused. I quickly learned all I could about code and mechanical/plumbing design while developing my leadership skills and strengthening my business acumen. I completed the program and after only being in this industry for two years, I was offered the opportunity to be the Client Executive of the Las Vegas office. If I didn’t have that “piece of paper” in hand along with my new EMBA credential, I don’t think I would have been considered for this position.
Q. What is one of your most memorable projects?
A. Charles River Laboratories. This was my first project where I was exposed to the entire project process while working directly with the client. I explored several different design paths, learning about displacement ventilation, laboratory exhaust stacks, and other lab requirements. We started with a complex lab and submitted a simplified solution for permit. I learned a lot in just one project.
Q. What advice do you have for young engineers and those interested in joining the industry?
A. Don’t stop learning and always ask questions. I believe one’s career is limited by the limits we put on ourselves.
Q. Have you had any mentors in your career?
A. I’ve been lucky enough to have three mentors in my career—one who made me feel safe and welcomed as a female minority engineer, one who believed in me and fought to close the gaps between myself and my male counterparts, and one who taught me everything I know in this industry. I have eternal appreciation for each of those who gave me patience as I learned, grace as I failed, and unconditional support while I blazed my own trail in engineering.
Q. Describe the qualities and capabilities of your team.
A. The competency, kindness, and support my team has for each other is incredible. Anyone can be a great engineer, but not everyone can be a great team member. When I think about this team, I can recall a time when each team member showed care and consideration for another on our team. It’s as simple as someone asking, “How can I help?”, answering a question, or making each other laugh when someone is having a bad day. It’s moments like this that make each challenging day worth it.
Q. How do you relax and unwind? What are your hobbies?
A. Staying relaxed and focused to tackle each day is attributed to exercise; it keeps my mind sharp and wakes me up in the morning. If I’m in a bad mood, I sweat it out. On the weekends, you can find me on the golf course, snowboarding in the mountains, eating or cooking delicious food, or simply relaxing on the couch watching a mindless reality TV show.
Q. Do you have anything or things in a “bucket list” that you wish to do or achieve in the future, either personally or professionally?
A. I have a personal and professional goal to change the face of engineering. I want to break the stereotype of engineers. I want to encourage more females and minorities to enter the engineering profession, show people it’s cool to be a nerd, and help develop their skills to be the next leaders in our industry.
Have a question for Mindy? Email her at Mindy.V.Haffke@imegcorp.com.