Michael Perez, PE (Colo.), is set to lead SEH’s highway design services in Colorado and Wyoming – further empowering our clients through strategic partnership and solutions, and helping SEH continue to grow by developing current and attracting new talent.
“Mike is an ideal choice to lead the highway design practice,” says SEH Vice President and West Region Leader Paul Wells. “He has an innate sense of what each project needs, and an ability to anticipate and act on what our clients seek with their projects. I’m excited to see the new heights our highway design services and partners reach with Mike in his new role.”
Mike joined SEH in 2013 and has been in the engineering industry for over 16 years. He is a senior project manager and highway design engineer with expertise and experience encompassing all facets of highway and roadway design. Mike cares deeply about helping clients achieve success but also the success of his colleagues. Mike has been leading transportation engineers since first joining SEH and defines success as "the empowerment and achievements of his colleagues."
We recently sat down with Mike (connect with him on LinkedIn) to learn more about his vision for this new role, career trajectory and the most important elements of any roadway project.
Can you share a bit of your background and experience, as well as what drives you?
As senior professional engineer and now highway design services leader, my expertise and focus is leading transportation and highway projects throughout the Colorado and Wyoming markets. I have been with SEH since 2013 and in the engineering industry for more than 16 years. In addition to regularly developing final roadway plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) for various project owners, my strengths include project management, technical expertise, resource management, client coordination and marketing.
At SEH, our mission and vision revolve around Building a Better World for All of Us®. I take great pride in this mission and, as a transportation engineer and project manager, have had the genuine pleasure of living it each day – on behalf of my colleagues, our clients and the communities we serve. I have had the opportunity to work on projects of all types and sizes throughout all regions of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), with numerous Local Agencies and municipalities, and even neighboring states. The reason I first became an engineer is because I saw the positive impact that our projects can, should and do have on communities and end users we serve.
What does “success” look like to you? What do you hope to bring to clients as leader of the highway design practice in Colorado and Wyoming?
At SEH, we measure success through distinct categories – two of which are People and Growth. Specific to People, I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to watch my colleagues develop and achieve. I enjoy seeing “light bulb” moments in their eyes when they accomplish a critical task.
In this new leadership role, Growth is also focus of mine. I think it’s important to encourage people to step outside of their comfort zones and to try new things – hopefully giving them confidence that they have the ability to grow and accomplish things they previously never thought possible.
We have a great group of employee-owners across SEH, including Colorado and Wyoming. I’m excited to capitalize on my colleagues’ expertise in order to grow our areas of operation, expand our services to better serve current and new clients, and grow our teams by adding new and motivated individuals.
As a project manager, I’ve always sought to see things through eyes of the client in order to anticipate their needs. Utilizing a “team first” mentality and caring most about what our client partners need has helped me develop strong relationships with these partners. True partnership is key to the success of any project, and one of my responsibilities in this new role is to pass this mindset on to our pipeline of future professional engineers and project managers.
What’s the most important element of a highway or roadway project? What one thing do you need to do to ensure a successful project?
As simple as it sounds: communication. There are many communication channels that need to be maintained throughout the life of a project – communication with the client, communication with the public, internal communication with the project team, and external communication with subconsultants or vendors.
Even just one of these channels breaking down severely hampers a consultant’s ability to deliver a successful project. As a result, developing and remaining accountable to a strategic communication plan is vital to keeping projects on track and completing them in the way our clients deserve.
What would you tell a potential recruit as to why they should be a part of your team?
SEH is a 100% employee-owned company. As employees, we all have stake in the company’s success and are rewarded for strong results. This is highly unique and creates not just an immense sense of pride in our people and the projects we undertake, but an understanding that when the company does well we all do well. As employee-owners, we play a role in determining the future of the company.
SEH has also reinvigorated its diversity and inclusion efforts; something I’m excited about and encouraged to see. We want all colleagues, whether brand-new or here for many years to have a seat at the table – to feel they have the platform they need to grow their careers and succeed in their roles.
What is the most satisfying part of your job? Why?
Knowing that completed projects have a positive impact on the lives of the people living in or traveling through these areas/sites is both satisfying and humbling. I’ve been fortunate to work on projects ranging in size from new interchanges to pedestrian ramp replacements, and everything in between.
I once had the opportunity to redesign portions of a rural highway on the Western Slope of Colorado that had not been improved in many years. It served as the primary route to a local mining operation but was hampered by severely deficient geometrics. These geometrics were a factor in countless accidents over the years. Our team was able to improve geometrics, add passing lanes and improve drainage facilities. In the year following construction completion, severe accidents on that highway were nearly eliminated in their entirety.
Learning that kind of feedback and results from clients is a reaffirming reminder as to why we do what we do as engineers: ultimately, to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
What do you enjoy doing with your spare time?
Between my wife and two sons, our free time fills up pretty quickly with sports and other activities! I enjoy bird hunting in the fall and winter seasons, as well as golfing and mountain biking whenever the weather allows. My wife also recently took up golf, Golf outings have become a nice family activity we can all enjoy together – whether going to the driving range or playing a round at a par-3 golf course.