Company: Lynch Mykins Structural Engineers
Birthplace: Clear Lake, Iowa
Family: Husband, Jerry Williamson; Pomeranian puppy Bentley
Education: B.S., architecture, University of Wyoming; Masters in Civil Engineering, N.C. State University
What accomplishments from the last year made you the most proud? Leading without fear. Fear holds people back, causes anxiety, sickness and isolation. I stepped out of my CEO role a bit to coach my team through this craziness and trust that everything will be OK and let go of unhealthy thoughts and emotions. When I see the change in my team today compared to two years ago, I feel very proud of them, and my decision to persevere even when forces were against me.
Will the pandemic have a long-term impact on how you and your organization do business? No. But it validated what we had been doing and made us want to do more of it. It proved that our values and culture were spot-on and powerful years ago. It revealed to us how important our steadfast “people first” vision is. It reinforced our healthy culture of collaboration, creativity and family. And it allowed us to forge even stronger relationships with clients. We grew significantly during the pandemic. And I’m proud of that.
What is your professional goal five years from now? To grow whole-mind engineers — a reinvention of this 100-year-old industry. We’ve developed a “university,” of sorts, to train our left-brained, analytical engineers to practice flexing the muscles of their right brain. Developing essential soft skills so they connect, relate to and understand themselves and other people clearly and effectively. My goal is to continue this work, refine it, and show the world that helping people build emotional intelligence directly correlates to their happiness.
What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve faced? Before I acquired Stroud Pence four years ago, my intent was to start my own firm, from the ground up. One thing led to another and the acquisition happened fast. I was faced with running a 45-year-old company in three months. Not everyone understood my vision for building the business so I had to be strategic and make tough decisions to get everyone on board and grow. Now, I’m a pro at change management!
To what community cause or charity are you most committed? I am most committed to the YMCA of the Triangle. We love working with the YMCA on all of their new facilities and I love bringing my expertise to their table to help them make smart decisions in the pursuit of their purpose. I actively serve on their facilities board. I’m excited to help guide their strategic organizational growth, expanding programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for people of all ages.
What female businessperson or leader do you admire most? Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. I love crazy people with crazy ideas willing to do anything to make them happen. She is inventive, brave and persevered when doors slammed in her face by the men making decisions in the industry of women’s hosiery! When she finally got the call from a mill operator to develop her idea, she’s just been non-stop since. To some degree I identify with her story and just love her grit.