Leadership at Every Level: Meet Structural Designer Stephanie Berrios
At Entuitive, we encourage leadership at every level. We’re consistently inspired by our team members at every stage in their careers – from their talent to their courage and innovative problem-solving. We provide the autonomy for them to bring ideas to life and add value when they see an opportunity to do so.
Stephanie Berrios, is a structural engineer in our New York office who has progressed steadily in her five years at Entuitive through her commitment to go above and beyond of what’s expected.
We spoke with Stephanie to learn more about the exciting projects she’s been part of, including Google’s new headquarters at 550 Washington, her commitment to providing mentorship and education opportunities, as well as what she values most about Entuitive.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us, Stephanie! Can you tell us more about your career at Entuitive?
It’s my pleasure! Our chat comes at a great time since June 4th was in fact my 5-year anniversary with Entuitive. I am technically within the Structural group in the New York team—although I say technically since I bounce around between different teams. This is something I really appreciate at Entuitive, as I’m not confined to working in one single type of structural design. I love being able to explore different areas. For example, my first project at Entuitive was 550 Washington, Google’s new headquarters in New York. It was a mega project that gave me exposure to structural engineering, the construction side, and restoration as well, all at an incredible, historic NYC site.
Quite the first project! Were you intimidated when you were first assigned to 550 Washington?
I was feeling a bit intimidated not only because it was a big project, but I was in an interesting situation at the time. I was working full-time at Entuitive, while also completing my Master of Science in Civil Engineering and Engineer Mechanics at Columbia University. During my Entuitive interview, I actually told my interviewer, Sean Smith, that I had been accepted into a graduate program. The first thing he told me was to not worry and that Entuitive is fully supportive of anyone who wants to pursue higher education. Sean explained that they were going to work around my class schedule and be flexible with my hours. My reaction was, “Oh my gosh, I get to have my cake and eat it too!”
It seems like you were a great fit from the start. How did you find balancing schoolwork and work-work?
I was definitely motivated to perform, since it was a challenging and rewarding first project. The first four floors of St. John’s Terminal Building, which was the terminus of the High Line, were retrofitted before eight floors were added, as was as a rooftop on top of it.
I was taking two classes at night while working full-time hours at Entuitive. It was a bit challenging at first since. Nonetheless, I’m very grateful that I dove into Entuitive and 550 Washington with a great team in place. They provided a lot of mentorship and support so that I would have more time to complete my schoolwork.
Principals David Stevenson and Saleem Haq were always ready to answer questions and provide guidance to any challenges I was facing. Regional BIM Manager Raj Thavarajah was also a big support when he was teaching me how to do the mark-ups, the Entuitive way. I came to feel like I could never take a false step before I could ever trip or fall because I knew there was a team member who would be there for me.
A collaborative workplace is essential. It’s also interesting that all three team members you mentioned are from our Toronto office. How was it collaborating across the border?
I’ve found that regardless of what level you are at Entuitive, your voice is being heard across the whole company. You can say something and someone is always there to listen, and willing to make any needed changes.
For instance, when I was at the beginning of my career, I heard about concept reviews, but I thought that I wouldn’t be a valuable contributor since my knowledge at that point was quite limited. However, as I thought to myself more about how we learn a lot from the design approaches on our projects, that we had the potential to apply the same logic or strategy on other projects. So, as I asked around about how to sign up, I came to discover that someone had already put me on the list for concept reviews. I’m not sure who did that, but a big thank you to whoever you are!
Five years later, we hear that you’ve been providing a lot of mentorship to students and peers. Can you tell us more?
I have realized that there were a lot of opportunities I missed out on in high school, such as different programs to try to get students exposed to potential career options. One of the programs was hosted by Columbia University, where they would invite high school students to the campus to take classes that were hosted by current college students and alumni.
As an alumna, I took that as an opportunity to say, “Okay, everything that I wish I learned in high school, I’m going to teach.” I taught a few sessions of an Introduction to Civil Engineering course to over 50 students. I’ve always said that my success as an engineer isn’t going to only be defined by the number and type of projects that I’m working on. I consider my definition of success to be how many people I can help become engineers.
I’ve seen many students who believe that engineering is not an accessible career path. Some may think that they don’t look like engineers – that mentality shouldn’t exist at this point. It’s so important to have diverse representation, support, and someone who can bond with you over a similar experience and trajectory.
It is remarkable that you’ve taken on this mentorship role so early in your career. What else are you hoping to achieve in your career at Entuitive?
That’s a big question. It’s always a difficult one for me to answer since I tend to have the mindset of going with the flow. I will continue to bounce around and try out different projects! An exciting project I’m working on right now is an escalator replacement project for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) with Dave Douglas. It’s been unique since we are coordinating the whole design, rather than the architect being in that role. For this project and for future ones, I hope to continue to be a very active team member where I’m not passive but able to bring my ideas to the table and provide ideas and solutions.
I think there is still a lot for me to learn when it comes to designing and putting a project together. My hope is to be able to take all the lessons that I’ve learned up until this point and apply them in the next set of projects that come my way.
Aside from my personal growth and development, I am also hoping to contribute to the growth of our New York office. Starting in September, I’m going to be helping with recruitment by going to colleges and hosting resume workshops. I have received so much great mentorship throughout my career so far, and I’m excited to pay that forward!
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Stephanie and for leading by example when it comes to being better tomorrow than we were today.
If you would like to reach out to Stephanie, you can do so here.