An Open Mind Is A Prerequisite To An Open Heart

Innovation Article

Justin Hampton leads with an open mind. As senior counsel for our Mobility Solutions and Connected Communities groups, his natural curiosity, compassion, and adventurous spirit make him a skillful problem solver. In just the two-and-a-half years he’s been with us, his role has expanded from negotiating smaller contracts to integrated project delivery, design-build, and joint venture deals, and to the environmental and energy sectors. In record time, he’s worked with his mentor, Leanne Rogers, our chief labor and employment attorney, to rapidly progress in his career and achieve his goals.

Justin says, “Leanne and I began having regular meetings over the phone, and she helped me track my progress and provided guidance on how to achieve the goals I set for myself.”

Although he’s very clear about where he wants to go in his career now, he didn’t always know law was his passion. A high achiever in math and science throughout his education, he used to think he’d have a career as an architect or construction engineer. However, once he got to NC State and took a course called Legal Aspects of Contracting, where lawyers came to his class to share their day-to-day lives in dealing with construction contracts, the law-school seed was planted.

After graduating from NC State, he went to work for an engineering company as an estimator and scheduler. He even spent some time in the field after Hurricane Katrina. However, a couple of years later, he enrolled in law school at Campbell University—on a full scholarship. After graduating, and passing the bar, he spent time working as an assistant attorney general for the North Carolina Department of Transportation and practicing construction litigation with a couple of regional law firms.

Justin, an only child, credits his mom for his success, saying, “She’s always been the guiding force in my life. She always stressed education as I grew up and poured all of her effort and energy into me, pushing me to excel at whatever I was doing.” Justin’s mom, Patricia, was a schoolteacher and single mother (and often worked two or three jobs to make ends meet), and the first in her family to go to college. She understood, more than anyone in Justin’s life, the value of a good education. Justin blossomed under her guidance to become the second person in his family to go to college. He also learned other valuable lessons from her, like the importance of an optimistic attitude and seeing the best in people. “My mom taught me compassion and how to do my best in every situation,” he says. “She taught me that doing so creates opportunity that leads to a better work product and helps me become a better human being.”

That compassion came in handy when, as a junior in high school, Justin and his girlfriend, Danita (now his wife), were pulled over by the police, told to lie face down on the asphalt, and interrogated. The couple, who didn’t understand why they were pulled over, were eventually let go after the officer concluded there had been no wrongdoing. Both Danita’s and Justin’s parents later filed a complaint with the police station because they felt the kids had been treated unfairly.

It would’ve been easy, then, to lose faith in law enforcement, but because Justin’s a glass-half-full guy, he actually joined a program at school the following year where students were paired up with a police officer and allowed to shadow them by going on ride-alongs. Officer Clayton, the man he was partnered with, developed such an intimate rapport with Justin that he became a kind of father figure for him. Through that experience, Justin was able to understand the complexities regarding race and policing.

There were times, Justin says, in his career where he’s been underestimated or undervalued, but maintaining an open mind and heart has allowed him to overcome those challenges and find his way to a company where he’s appreciated for his talent and expertise. “Within the workplace, you need to have a space where you feel like you can share ideas, and be your authentic self, and reach a level of understanding with people from all walks of life, and I’ve found that at Parsons,” Justin says.

Justin’s successful not only because of his ability to connect with everyone but also because he’s the first to raise his hand when presented with a challenge.

He says, “I’m the type who, if my manager asks, ‘Who can take this on?’ my hand immediately shoots up, even if it’s something I’ve never done before. I’m always open for trying to expand my horizons, and I’m not afraid to take a risk.”

Maybe that’s why he and his wife love mountain biking, traveling, and teaching their two children, Emerie and Maxton, to be go-getters. Maybe that’s why he’s able to approach every opportunity with a fearlessness that propels him forward in his professional and personal life.

And maybe it’s that kind of open mind that paved the way for the open heart that Justin has become known for.

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