UPDATE: As luck would have it, Lydia was announced as SD1's new Director of Infrastructure and Capital Planning on Monday, June 7. Congratulations Lydia!
Meet Lydia Watkins, a project manager at SD1. Lydia is a University of Kentucky graduate with a degree in Biosystems Engineering who has been at SD1 since 2013. We sat down with Lydia recently to talk about her role in overseeing some of SD1's largest capital improvement projects across Northern Kentucky.
Why did you choose to work at SD1?
I grew up in Northern Kentucky, and so as I was finishing up my degree, I knew I wanted to live in the area. I started researching different companies in the area that would match my degree well, and SD1 was a perfect fit.
How would you describe your job?
A project manager is someone who has to manage a lot of different individuals who are all working toward the same solution. At SD1, I manage our capital improvement projects. So I take a problem, like flooding or sanitary sewer overflow (SSO), and design a fix that eventually gets a contractor on board to do construction and implement that fix.
What led you to your current role?
I started at SD1 as a co-op in our storm water group, looking at best management practices (BMPs) for storm water pollution. Then, I slowly worked my way up the ladder by doing sanitary and storm water plan reviews. I did a little bit of time in our asset management group, working with our collection systems and reviewing different issues within our existing system. Eventually, I landed in my current role as project manager.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is managing multiple projects at once. You have to be ready to change focus at any given moment. Problems or issues might arise, and you have to be ready to start researching whatever this new problem or issue is and give an answer right away. You usually have contractors out on-site who need to keep working, so you have to be able to switch focus and switch gears real quick.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is taking that problem, the flooding or sewer overflow, and working from the problem all the way to the solution and the fix. Eliminating flooding from somebody's yard or home or a sewer overflow from the streams and creeks in the area is probably the most rewarding part of the job.
What advice would you give a student starting in your field?
Be sure to look at your time management skills and work on being able to focus on lots of tasks at the same time. If you can make sure you have these priorities in place, you will be just fine in this field.
What do you like to do outside of SD1?
I like to spend time with my family, my husband and my daughter. We have a small horse farm here in Northern Kentucky, and if we're not at the barn, we're out camping in our camper. So anything outside and with my family!
What is your favorite thing about working at SD1?
My favorite thing about working at SD1 would have to be the people. We call it our "work family." There's a great camaraderie, and everybody is supportive of everyone else. That's probably my absolute favorite part of working at SD1.
Learn more about Lydia by watching the latest edition of SD1 Staff Spotlight at https://www.facebook.com/SanitationDistrictNo.1/videos/624016068556048.
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