Get to Know GAI: 5 Questions for Community Infrastructure Leader Kathy Leo, PE

In our ‘Get to Know GAI’ series, you’ll hear a range of GAI professionals offer their takes on the current state of the AEC industry, and their inside views of some of the innovative projects that GAI is bringing to life around the United States. Throughout the current challenges, GAI’s experienced professionals remain at the forefront, delivering innovative solutions to a range of transportation, industrial, municipal, energy, and development clients.

Kathy LeoToday, GAI VP and Community Infrastructure Business Sector Leader Kathy Leo, PE discusses some of her impressions of how GAI has adapted to the unprecedented health concerns and other factors affecting today’s world, and how she’s continuing to lead her field in providing the advanced engineering services that GAI’s clients’ demand.

Q: Please tell us who you are and describe your area of expertise and what you do at GAI.

Kathy Leo: I’m Kathy Leo, PE; Vice President and leader of Community Infrastructure. I lead GAI’s teams for infrastructure civil engineering, water, and aviation throughout the company.

Q: Have any of your projects been affected by the pandemic? How have you adjusted?

Kathy Leo: Change on our projects brought about by the pandemic has run the gamut. We have had some projects put on hold and some have slowed. Initially, it was difficult to get contracts that were pending award or signature to completion, but we are now beyond that. Most of our projects are continuing as usual with COVID-19-sensitive adjustments to our work practices including meetings conducted online via Microsoft Teams, electronic submittals, field work performed following all the CDC-recommended COVID-19 protocols, and much more time on the phone.

Q: How has the pandemic changed the way GAI and your group operate?

Kathy Leo: GAI and our staff haven’t skipped a beat in operations. I was amazed by how staff across the company initially shifted to remote work environments without a hitch or break in productivity. Now, several months later, we have a combination of in-office and remote staff that operate safely and seamlessly. It’s helped our collaboration throughout the company.

Q: Have you taken up any new hobbies during the pandemic?

Kathy Leo: To me, it has been important to maintain a sense of routine and normalcy throughout the pandemic. I’m spending more time outside than before, and I went back to the gym as soon as they reopened in Florida. I meet with friends and colleagues in mostly outdoor venues for dinner or coffee. I’m also on-site in the office several days a week, following the CDC-recommended protocols for COVID-19 mitigation that we’ve enacted for all GAI offices. This gives me a feeling of routine that I need to keep focused.

Q: Do you have any predictions on how the AEC industry will move forward?

Kathy Leo: The AEC industry is resilient. Deemed essential workers early on, GAI continued our work delivering projects for our clients. We’re already seeing changes to the type of work we do, particularly on the civil engineering side. We’re seeing some shifts back to urban and suburban projects, a focus on warehousing that supports our new shopping habits, and renewed interest in single-family residential products. And our clients’ infrastructure needs for water and transportation remain strong and relatively unchanged from last year.

Like many industries, I think there will continue to be shifts in how we work and where we work. The industry has embraced technology and is promoting remote work. This will result in a changing office footprint. It will also present new challenges and opportunities for hiring staff. The biggest challenge may be for new graduates who need close training and mentoring, but who will now have to collaborate in a socially distanced or even a virtual environment. It is very different than models of the past, but I do believe we as an industry, and GAI as a company, can embrace change, thrive, and excel.

For more information about GAI’s community infrastructure, projects, and trends, contact VP and Community Infrastructure Business Sector Leader Kathy Leo, PE, 321.319.3095. Message GAI online and start the conversation about how our multidiscipline professionals can meet your unique project needs. 

Kathy LeoKathy Leo, PE has more than 25 years’ industry experience and is well versed in a wide range of traditional, design-build, and integrated project delivery contracting methods. Prior to joining GAI, Kathy led national divisions for commercial, hospitality, and institutional businesses. She is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and Commercial Real Estate Women’s (CREW) Network, and a previous ASCE East Central Branch President and Florida Section Regional VP. Kathy is a registered Professional Engineer in Florida, and holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Central Florida.

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