Kathern Meaders recently celebrated her two-year anniversary working as a Document Control Lead at Hill International, Inc.’s Seattle office. From onboarding and first impressions, to site visits and future goals, Kathern shares the accomplishments, challenges and relationships that helped shape her Hill experience.
Kathern initially applied to Hill because she liked the idea of supporting the multi-billion-dollar Alaskan Way Viaduct Program for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), which used one of the largest tunnel boring machines in the world to build a double decker roadway under the City of Seattle. In addition, Hill’s global presence provided opportunity to visit other parts of the country and world, which sparked her interest.
Once hired, Kathern quickly transitioned into her role at Hill and became familiar with WSDOT processes and preferences, making both personal and professional accomplishments during the Program. Supported by Hill management, she took online courses and obtained certificates for Business Process Improvement and Electronic Content Management Specialist.
“Hill provided an opportunity for me to help develop and implement new processes to streamline information management, including several legal preservation and collection processes, program Standard Operating Procedures and a program-specific retention schedule,” said Kathern.
In addition to the process improvements, Kathern led an effort to upload a backlog of documentation into the records repository, and provided employee training on Information Governance and Records Management best practices.
One of Kathern’s most gratifying Hill experiences was touring “Bertha,” a 57-foot-diameter tunnel boring machine used to excavate a tunnel to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct.
“It was magnificent to see and interesting to learn how she worked. I was so happy they allowed everyone on the program to take advantage of the opportunity to tour the site.”
Now a new member of Seattle’s business development team, Kathern is focusing on her next move.
“I am pursuing more business development opportunities to help develop my leadership and contributions to Hill. The team encourages my professional growth so I can gain new skill sets and share Hill’s services with clients. They are extremely supportive of my ideas.” explains Kathern.
Supportive Workplace Culture
When Kathern was hired, she immediately felt like a valued member of the team from day one, and continues to receive support from her colleagues.
“When I met Greg Heinz on my first day, he took me to lunch and asked about my family. I felt Greg genuinely cared, and he continues to prove that by emphasizing a good work-life balance.” said Kathern.
“My manager, Tom Woodworth, soon sought my input with decision-making and in brainstorming sessions. He acted as a mentor to me – helping me learn how the business works and always providing an honest opinion.”
Kathern describes Hill’s culture as “humorous, fun-loving, enthusiastic and compassionate.” Events like holiday parties, pumpkin carvings and gingerbread house building, as well as “accessory of the month” competitions, are just a few of the teambuilding exercises that contribute to the positive, relaxed atmosphere in Hill’s Seattle office. However, as with many new jobs, Kathern experienced some challenges during the journey.
“I’m a pretty adaptable worker by nature, but at times tasks would change fast. I often juggle multiple tasks, and when additional work is assigned, it can become overwhelming,” explains Kathern. “I learned to make a daily list of my top three priorities, regularly consult my calendar for meetings and receive coaching to help me manage a team of six document control staff once I was promoted to a supervisory role. I just take baby steps.”
Kathern’s manager Tom helps coach her in supervising support staff. She also uses Hill University, Hill’s learning and professional development portal, to take project management courses. Kathern plans to continue taking Hill University courses focused on conflict resolution, stress management, leadership and other valuable workplace skills.
Maintaining a culture of openness, support and growth at Hill is paramount to the success of employees and projects. Tom, Greg and Michele Percussi continue to apply this philosophy, encouraging Kathern to take the professional development courses and join associations, such as AIIM, ARMA International and Women in Transportation (WTS), to continue her education and network.
“My advice to other current or prospective Hill employees is to seek out and take advantage of opportunity. Get involved, whether it’s through a contest, holiday event or as a part of the business development team,” she advises. “My leaders' trust helps give me confidence and keeps me motivated. Without that, it would just be another job.”
Hill Careers: https://www.hillintl.com/en/experienced-professionals