Imagine Next: My Experience (So Far) at Parsons

Women's History Month

I feel as if I grew up with Parsons.

My dad was a civil PE who designed and managed infrastructure construction – primarily bridges, wastewater treatment plants, and roads, but also manufacturing facilities. He subscribed to Engineering News-Record (ENR), and when I read articles about Parsons’ projects, I would think, “Wow, that’s really neat!” Throughout my 22-year career with the company, I am proud to have been, and continue to be, a part of the incredible projects that I used to read about.

After college, I moved from Williamsport, PA (home of Little League baseball) to Pasadena, CA, where Parsons’ previous headquarters was located. In the early ‘nineties, I was an environmental business development manager for a regional laboratory and consulting firm and regularly met with Parsons on teaming opportunities.

In early 2002, Parsons hired me as our West Region environmental business development manager responsible for oil, utilities, and municipal clients (my first win was a Chevron/Texaco Master Services Agreement). On my fourth day at the company, I joined a bi-weekly telephone call with our business unit sales executives and our business development team around the globe. Those in Pasadena convened in the board room, and we went around the table discussing the various sales opportunities. While I was the only woman present, I was treated with respect and welcomed as a contributing member of the team. That professional courtesy and collaboration has been threaded throughout my tenure at Parsons. It has been my experience that the inclusion of innovative professionals, those who practice safety, bring quality, have integrity, and offer diversity of thought, have always been respected and welcomed.

In 2004, I became our first Federal Marketing Manager and had the privilege of collaborating with our Corporate Relations team. Together, we developed the marketing campaign “Delivering a Better World,” which has been used for decades to elevate the company’s brand awareness around the world. When Corporate Relations needed a point of contact to interface with the publisher of Parsons’ history book, “The Story of Parsons Corporation,” I volunteered. I spent many evenings throughout the year writing content, editing sections, picking out photographs, and reading transcripts of former employees for context. Researching our history profoundly touched me with the magnitude of what we accomplished, the commitment, personal sacrifices, and the caliber of our people. It was clear to me that Ralph Parsons was a leader in inclusivity, and regardless of your gender, if you were qualified, you got the chance to contribute and build a career.

I was also fortunate to collaborate with our Corporate Safety Director and Creative Department to create “Safety Guy” as Parsons’ mascot to emphasize our safety culture. His likeness showed up on Parsons’ hard hats, heralded holiday safety messages, and, my favorite, replaced the men’s bathroom door symbol in several offices.

During my time with Federal, I spent several months one summer at the Newport Chemical Demilitarization Project in Indiana, supporting a critical client submittal. Our role in destroying the US chemical weapons stockpile is historically noteworthy, and, for me, it was my first field assignment.

While there, I dealt with seven-year locusts, tornado warnings, and power outages. The weekend before the client submittal was due on a Monday, I was compiling the documents alone in the field trailer, and the power went out. I completed the assignment by flashlight and emergency lighting.

I later joined the Parsons Human Resources team to help the company’s recruiting efforts around the world. One of my largest assignments was during the Deep Horizon Oil Spill Response, where I was the deputy recruiting manager. Parsons was integral in many aspects of the clean-up, including the staffing, safety training, boat deployment, oil recovery, and communication. The emergency response lasted nearly 135 days, in which Parsons increased staff from four to over 600 personnel in two months and managed close to 100,000 vessel deployments throughout Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama. Our command center was in Mobile, AL, and I basically lived there, only going out for dinner twice. However, the night the recruiting portion of the project ended, and I had a few hours before my flight, I went shopping at a mall across the parking lot from the command center and bought a suit that served me for years to come. Every time I wore it, I thought, if we can help clean up an ocean, we can do anything. This assignment also introduced me to fried pickles, which I will order at any opportunity. My Human Resources assignments also took me to diverse geographies, such as Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Faro Mines in Canada.

In 2017, I had the opportunity to join our Los Angeles World Airports team supporting the $5.5 billion Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), which will improve access to and from LAX and enhance sustainability via better air quality and less traffic congestion. This effort is one of the largest infrastructure programs in the United States, and Parsons is providing project management and construction management services.

Initially, I managed the recruitment activities and onboarding Parsons personnel and subconsultants. At the apex of LAMP, we had 164 team members supporting LAX’s automated people mover, consolidated rental car facility, intermodal transportation facilities, and roadway improvements. Today, my role includes not only staffing and personnel responsibilities, but also financial and contractual oversight and subconsultant administration.

Whether I was selling or marketing Parsons services, managing special assignments, supporting recruiting, or in the field, I feel truly blessed to have a career that has offered such diverse roles and the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding professionals with a firm whose core values guide our global business.

About The Author

In her 22+ years with Parsons, Holly has held sales, marketing, talent strategy, and business management roles in our environmental, infrastructure, Federal, and corporate business units. Her father, a civil engineer, jokingly referred to her as Parsons’ pitch hitter – whenever there was a need, she won the inning. Holly is presently a Business Manager in our aviation sector assigned to the Los Angeles World Airports.

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