Central Florida Leader Discusses Client Service, Cultivating Talent and Workplace Culture
Kyle Harper, P.E., came to Michael Baker International as associate vice president and surface transportation leader in Central Florida. Since joining the firm in 2020, he has been essential to Michael Baker’s Central Florida efforts to cultivate talent, increase staff and deliver excellence to clients. See below to get to know one of the firm’s leaders in our growing Florida operations.
What attracted you to Michael Baker in the first place?
I knew a colleague who joined Michael Baker and spoke highly of the firm and its excitement and momentum to grow in Florida’s transportation market. He described Michael Baker as an engaging and collaborative workplace based on a Wolf Pack philosophy that we are stronger together. This environment matched my personal goals to forge a career path at a company with tremendous potential for personal growth and leadership and a great deal of teamwork and collaboration. That was just the opportunity I was seeking.
You have worked at Michael Baker for nearly a year now. How has the experience been?
It’s truly been a great experience, particularly because of the opportunity to build teams and cultivate talent. I am passionate about surrounding myself with people who thrive on creative thinking and challenging the status quo. Yet, it’s just as important to cultivate that talent through trust and mentorship. When our employees come to work every day with a sense of purpose and empowerment, we fulfill our promise to deliver excellence for our clients.
How has your approach to employee development come through for our clients?
One successful project that comes to mind is the NASA Parkway Bridge Replacement Project for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) – District 5. Our Central Florida highway drainage team provided drainage design and permitting services for this fast-tracked project. Our goal was to replace the functionally obsolete twin bascule bridges and improve infrastructure to transport special cargo to the Kennedy Space Center.
Project challenges included executing the project development and environment (PD&E) and final design and permitting efforts under one contract. Our strong team provided pond siting and location hydraulic reports to support the NEPA effort and also completed the design and permitting of water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) to meet the strict pollutant loading requirements of the environmentally sensitive Indian River Lagoon. Our approach to completing this project on schedule included a comprehensive communication plan with Space Florida, NASA, FDOT District 5 and the St. Johns River Water Management District. In addition, our Central Florida structures group provided independent peer review of the proposed high-level fixed bridge alternative.
What's the best advice you can give to help facilitate a productive and engaged workforce?
Workplace culture doesn’t happen by chance. It’s achieved through deliberate actions to support employees and guide them toward fulfilling our firm’s values, purpose and mission. Workplace culture has been critical during the pandemic and in our work-from-home environments. I have an open-door policy literally and virtually. If a team member needs some of my time, all they need to do is ask.
My mantra is to treat my team as professionals, place trust in my staff, and enjoy each other and our work. As offices reopen and we look to the workplace of the future, we’ll remain committed to building strong relationships and Making a Difference to our clients, each other and our communities.