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Women in Engineering: Q&A with Marie Cote, PE

June 23, 2017 is International Women In Engineering day.   A day to celebrate the technical roles and amazing careers in engineering that girls can aspire to achieve.  The day also allows us to recognize the achievements of our own outstanding female engineers. In celebration of SRF’s women engineers, each day this week we are showcasing a valuable member of our women engineering team.

Marie Cote, PE, PTOE | Chief Operating Officer

Joined SRF: 1993

Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, Loyola Marymount University

What are a few of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
My first love is cooking. Other than the everyday cooking at home, I am the first to volunteer to cook for any occasion. I enjoy entertaining and party planning. I also enjoy gardening during the spring, summer, and fall.

Why did you decide to study engineering?
I started my first semester of college as a liberal arts major. Another student majoring in Civil Engineering convinced me I should challenge myself and give it a try.

How did you get started in the field?
My first job right after graduating from college I worked for the Los Angeles County Public Works in Drainage Design.

Tell us about your role at SRF.
I am currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at SRF. As the COO, I oversee daily operations of the company. I frequently collaborate with our President and other executive leaders to resolve issues and provide leadership as well as direction to staff. I enjoy that my responsibilities are more hands-on. I help our staff find the right tools to be successful at SRF and for our clients.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is resolving an issue or working with an individual or group and seeing that light bulb go on. Everyone is working together toward the same solution.

What project are you the proudest of, or has been your favorite?
The two projects that I enjoyed working on the most were the I-94/Brockton Lane Interchange and the TH 169/101st Avenue Interchange. SRF was involved in the transportation planning with both projects early on and continued with concept development and analysis, and selection of the preferred interchange design. We are currently working on these projects to identify funding options for the cities to consider for construction of each interchange.

Did you face any challenges as a woman in engineering, if so what were they?
Balancing work while raising three young children was challenging. I had to establish a schedule that worked for my family, but also enabled me to continue to advance my career.

What advice would you give to a female engineer entering her career?
Do not be afraid to ask for help. This means help from your spouse or significant other, friends, supervisor, other female engineers, or your peers.

There will be challenges in your career, but overcoming these challenges will make you a stronger person.

Continue to believe in yourself. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve whatever it is you want to accomplish.