Tara Krista Set to Lead SEH’s Transportation Practice in Wisconsin and Indiana

July 1, 2021

Tara Krista has been named Transportation East Region Practice Center Leader at SEH, overseeing  the company’s highway design, traffic, transportation planning and structural teams in Wisconsin and Indiana.

Serving in instrumental roles at SEH for nearly 20 years and part of the industry for over 21 years, Tara is highly regarded by the hundreds of clients she has partnered with over the years. She has a diverse array of experience in civil, structural and transportation-related projects – including having worked on more than 125 bridge and culvert designs, bridge hydrology and hydraulics, and in-service and underwater bridge inspections, as well as rural and urban roadway design projects that required resurfacing, reconditioning, reconstruction and/or new construction.

I am confident that Tara’s expertise, collaborative leadership approach, desire to help others succeed and enthusiasm to grow our company’s transportation efforts will serve us well today and for many years ahead.

We recently sat down with Tara, who is also an SEH associate and Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) trustee (SEH is a 100% employee-owned organization), to learn more about her vision for this role, why she’s excited to continue growing with SEH and help expand our service offerings, as well as current industry trends and challenges.

What does success look like to you? What do you hope to bring to clients as leader of the transportation practice in SEH’s East Region?

Success to me is developing and leading individuals who are inspired to go out and do great things. If I can help others achieve their goals – whether helping a client’s vision come to life or helping a team member grow in their career – I consider that success. 

At SEH, we have both internal and external clients, and we pride ourselves on our well-organized project management practices and our early and ongoing communication throughout the life of a project. I am a strong believer that excellent client service begins with a clear understanding of the client’s needs, deliverables and expected timelines, then maintaining regular communication.

As the new transportation practice center leader for Wisconsin and Indiana, I am dedicated to strengthening our teams project management practices even more – as I am currently working with our IT team to revamp our highly effective project management database tool to ensure all clients continue to receive the excellent communication and collaboration they are used to.

The wear and tear on our infrastructure continues daily, as a significant portion of our roadways and bridges are in poor condition. As practice center leader, I will continue to grow our group’s services to meet the specific needs of our clients. Specifically, I will be focusing on growing our department of transportation (DOT) design services in both Madison, Wisconsin as well as Indiana. I will also be focused on looking at opportunities to grow our survey, plat and construction services region-wide.

I will also be working closely with our other regional practice center leaders in highway design to collaborate on growth initiative opportunities companywide.

Are there any notable trends or challenges in the transportation industry right now? How can we help clients overcome these challenges?

Funding is always a challenge in the transportation industry. Many of the clients we work with, money is tight, and the infrastructure needs are great. As their trusted advisor, we work hard to identify those infrastructure needs for communities then place our knowledgeable funding specialists in their path to help find them funding.

Related Content: FundStart™ -- Activate Solutions You Need to Move Key Projects Forward

Technology isn’t necessarily a trend, but it is ever changing and something that we continually strive to understand and leverage as these new concepts, tools and ideas become available. We want to be on the leading edge of any technology that may be of value to our clients.

What led you to SEH? Why have you stayed so long?

Initially, the friendly, team atmosphere drew me in. I was immediately immersed in a department that was not only talented and driven but also filled with teammates who worked together for the greater good. I could tell my new coworkers were going to be an extended family. I saw that they were not only committed to the clients and projects they were involved with, but they were deeply rooted in the community and just good people to the core. It felt like a perfect fit for me.

I have stayed at SEH because my core values align with the company values. We are a “work hard, play hard” company. And while our teams take great pride in their strong work ethic, there is an even higher value placed on family and an understanding that each employee is so much more than what they bring to the SEH table. There is an understanding that employees are also working to spend time with the other joys and loves in their lives, and SEH truly wants that for all of our employee-owners.

What would you tell a potential recruit as to why they should consider joining your team?

Our design teams operate in a highly collaborative environment where everyone has a seat at the table and open communication is a constant. Our project leaders encourage and inspire all team members to take ownership of projects early on. This all-in project team design approach provides the client with the most innovative and well-planned project design solutions.

As a team member, you will always be encouraged and supported by a mentor, no matter your level, as we are constantly looking for opportunities to grow the knowledge and individual careers of our team members. At SEH, your career really can go any direction you want to take it.

Another thing worth noting is we have adopted a work from anywhere model. At SEH, you can choose to be fully remote or fully in person. We support the work environment that works for you. Last but definitely not least: SEH is 100% employee-owned. This means when the company does well, we all do well!

Any advice for someone just starting out in the industry, whether student or intern?

  • Get involved in a professional organization.
  • Always be an active listener.
  • Never be afraid to ask questions.
  • Understand that you weren’t hired to do it alone, so lean on those who have been there before you for guidance and wisdom. 
  • Recognize your weaknesses and never stop working on them.
  • Stay current with design software.
  • Be open to field experience; it will help complete the big picture.
  • Share your mistakes so everyone can learn from them.
  • Remember effective communication is key.
  • Know that most great things come from stepping outside of your comfort zone.

What motivates you outside of work? How do you spend your free time?

I am motivated by activities that make a difference in the lives of others and by participating in things I have a chance to change. In my spare time, when I am not being a mom to my four children or cheering them on at their many sporting events, I can usually be found coaching the Chippewa Valley Spirit All Stars cheerleading teams or giving new life to an old property.

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