Stephanie Gago

Title: Transportation Operations Specialist
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.

​​“We need diversity; diversity drives innovation and is the key to our individual and organizational growth."

When she's not working as a transportation operations specialist at Gannett Fleming or spending time with her family and Cavapoo puppies, Stephanie Gago is busy promoting the engineering industry within the Hispanic community. As the newly elected vice president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Greater Philadelphia Chapter (SHPE GPC), Stephanie shared why she thinks it's important for Latino and Hispanic people to pursue STEM careers:

"As a young Hispanic woman, I believe we need to represent the people using STEM products and services. Latinos and other underrepresented groups also provide different experiences and ways of thinking and solving problems," she added. "We need diversity; diversity drives innovation and is the key to our individual and organizational growth."

As we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked Stephanie a few questions to get to know her:

How long have you worked in the AEC industry?

My first internship was at a construction company in Reno, Nevada, during the summer before my junior year of college. The following summer, I interned for PennDOT, where I had the opportunity to oversee the rehabilitation of bridges over Interstate 676/the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia. After graduating from Penn State Harrisburg with a civil engineering degree focused on transportation, I landed my first "big girl job" here at Gannett Fleming.

Why Gannett Fleming?

Gannett Fleming is the first and only company that I have worked for since graduating college about three and a half years ago, and I'm still here because this firm continues to offer great resources that allow everyone to feel included and valued.

Tell us about the business group you're a part of and your role here at Gannett Fleming.

I work for our transportation operations group, and we specialize in intelligent transportation systems (ITS). ITS includes a wide range of applications that process and share information to ease congestion, improve traffic management, and increase the reliability of transportation for commercial users and the public. It's meant to improve the safety, mobility, and efficiency of ground transportation.

I focus primarily on the design of ITS and development project plan sets that include ITS device locations, communications, and electrical connections to these devices. My other duties include providing construction support services and participating in project site evaluations.

What's one professional achievement you're especially proud of?

I'm excited about my new leadership position at SHPE GPC, whose mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support, and development. I've been a member of SHPE GPC since 2018 and previously served as the community outreach chair and events director. I'm proud to say that our chapter has provided many professional development workshops along with resources for both professionals and students. 

How does Gannett Fleming support your professional development and career growth?

The firm offers many courses through our internal Learning Network on a wide variety of topics, and our leadership also encourages participation in professional societies to assist with career development and communication skills.

Tell us about the most interesting project you've worked on.

The most interesting project I've worked on was the first project I was involved with from start to finish. I was able to see my designs from the preliminary stages transform into final submission quality. The project spanned over 30 miles of highway in Connecticut and included the installation of an incident management system that incorporated closed-circuit TV cameras, dynamic message signs, fiber optic communications, and everything else in between.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job, and what is the most rewarding aspect?

The most challenging aspect of my job was overcoming the learning curve and accepting that it is okay to ask questions. The most rewarding aspect of my job is that I'm part of a close-knit team that advocates for each other.

What does an average workday look like for you?

An average day begins with me filtering through emails while sipping on my coffee. Then, depending on the day, I may meet with my group to discuss everyone's workload and continue plugging away on projects that are prioritized for that week, whether it's developing designs in MicroStation, reviewing project scopes, or participating in coordination meetings.

What do you see for the next generation of engineers at Gannett Fleming?

I see an inclusive work environment where every employee feels that their perspective and skillset are valued. I see the next generation using more innovative technology and enjoying the benefits of a growing company.

What Gannett Fleming core value is particularly significant to you, and why?

It's Gannett Fleming's commitment to its employees that is particularly significant to me. When an employee feels welcomed, accepted, and acknowledged, they will naturally produce quality work.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your professional success to and why?

I am truly an empathetic person, which, I believe, has helped me build professional connections and relationships.

What's your favorite family tradition?

My favorite tradition is the Parranda, a Puerto Rican music tradition that takes place during the Christmas holiday season. My family gets together every year on Christmas Eve, and we celebrate with musical instruments.

What three words would your family and friends use to describe you?

Empathetic, spontaneous, and generous.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

While I was completing a study abroad program at the University of Cape Town in 2015, I actively participated in a nationwide student-led movement called Fees Must Fall to stop increases in student fees and boost funding of universities. Although it was one of the most dangerous protests I've witnessed and been a part of, it was also one of the most empowering moments of my life.

If you could live in any city, where would it be and why?

I would love to live in a city abroad, maybe in Argentina or South Africa. I love the idea of living like a local, meeting new people, and eating different food!