Fueling a Culture of Passionate Problem Solvers with Purpose

November 17, 2021

A passion for solving client problems runs deep within Ulteig. Throughout our organization, our employee-owners work closely together, collaborating with their colleagues and clients to unlock the potential of the latest project. Solutions are not in short supply, whether we’re solving for a substation being built to support a new solar farm in Texas or designing a new water treatment plant for a small town in Ontario.

Within this dynamic, you will see a sense of purpose – a belief that the solutions being developed are not only sustainable (one of our firm’s guiding values) but that those same solutions will have a real, tangible impact on the world. This belief guides our leaders at all levels in elevating not only our work, but the human potential that lies within every Ulteig associate.

Putting People First

To James Thomas, Ph.D., an Engineering Supervisor who works with Ulteig’s renewables clients, it’s critical to put his team members first. At its very essence, that’s what Ulteig’s culture does best.

“In prioritizing our people and culture,” said Thomas, whose team focuses on interconnection, site selection, preliminary engineering, origination, LMP analysis, and project M&A, “our CEO, Doug, is setting the foundation for the close working relationships we seek with our clients. I take this to heart and that’s why I feel it’s so important to put your people first. It’s critical to meet your people where they’re at, understand their needs, and help them to bring out their best work. It’s my job to remove barriers so I can help my team reach their potential. In turn, that translates into more productive relationships with our clients.”

At Ulteig, leadership is a mentoring process, where current leaders work with emerging leaders to build a collaborative culture. “My boss, Tahnee Miller, helped me to see that talent attracts talent,” said Thomas, “She helped me become passionate about engineering excellence as well as building a team. I hope that my passion transfers into the work we’re doing as a team and helps my team members discover their own passions.”

To help our people reach their potential, leadership starts with the simple act about caring for people – and appreciating them for who they are. We are engineers. It’s in our blood. It’s what we love to do.

“This might sound kind of funny, but I think it’s true,” said Andrew Melvin, P.E. a Technical Engineering Manager with Ulteig’s Renewables group who manages a team of 17 direct reports. “We’re smart people doing smart things, smartly. We’re not the kind of engineering firm where you’re chained to your desk. I think Ulteig really cares about its people and trying to help them grow.”

It’s these threads – putting people first, creating collaborative relationships, embracing curiosity that are woven through the fabric of Ulteig and our relationships with its employee-owners and our clients. This is what makes Ulteig different.

Embracing Curiosity and Building Confidence 

Manisha Ghorai, P.E., is an Engineering Supervisor who manages a team of seven engineers whose primary role is to conduct power system studies and develop dynamic simulation models for the firm’s renewable developer and owner clients.

In leading her team, Ghorai stresses the importance of working on projects that she and her team find intellectually challenging and interesting, and in having a career plan that stresses continuous learning and growth. In addition, it’s really important to Ghorai to build a team that represents diversity in experiences, perspectives and knowledge.

“I want my team members to be happy about the work they are doing,” said Ghorai. “I have regular one-on-one meetings with my team members where we talk about the studies they’re working on and the types of studies they would like to work on. I think it’s important to match our team members with projects that they are really passionate about – that offer them the opportunity to express their creativity in engineering. Together, we break down a project to see how we can improve the process. An important part of this process is enabling curiosity and continuously learning from the experience. I find this energizes me, as well.”

To Melvin, Thomas and Ghorai, a fundamental joy of what they do is the ability to share and pass down their knowledge, particularly with younger engineers.

“I love working with my team and sharing my knowledge,” said Ghorai. “One of the lessons I learned early on in my career, which I share with my team, is taking ownership for your work and learning to be confident in your recommendations. It’s also important to celebrate our successes in order to build up that confidence.”

By embracing a culture where it’s safe for our team members to share their ideas both internally and with our clients, our team members challenge themselves to keep asking themselves if there’s another, better way.

“When it comes to developing solutions, you need everybody participating to come up with good ideas,” added Melvin. “In order to get those good ideas, I really value diversity. I really value people feeling like they have a voice on the team. Our firm is really good at making our colleagues feel welcome and feel like they can voice their opinion and voice their thoughts.”

Having an Impact

At the end of the day, Ulteig provides solutions that help our clients’ vision become a reality. When Ulteig engineers are in the moment, guided by leaders such as Thomas, Melvin and Ghorai, we’re able to tap into our passion in solving problems and unlock a client’s voice.

Having worked on the client side before joining Ulteig, Thomas has a unique window into the thinking and decision-making that happens on the client side, and he shares that with his team members. “More often than not, when a client comes to us with a specific project, I’m asking the question: ‘What is the bigger issue that they’re trying to solve?’” said Thomas.

In asking this question and trying to understand the bigger picture – from the client’s perspective – the seeds of creating added value are planted.

“When we get to the ‘Here’s our recommendation and here’s why I think you should consider it,’ stage, that’s when we provide the answers that others may miss. It’s a reflection of the collaborative culture and teamwork that all comes together at Ulteig,” said Thomas. “What I try to do with our team is strive for engineering excellence in all that we do. This is why I was attracted to Ulteig in the first place, and I think it’s our responsibility to keep building that reputation.”

By helping clients build projects that are more efficient, more cost-effective, and more sustainable, Melvin sees the bigger picture of Ulteig’s work, which is to have a greater impact on the world. “I like to think that when we help our clients save money, they in turn will have more funds to spend on more projects that will make our world a better place, such as more solar farms. I think this is a mentality shared among my team and I think throughout Ulteig. So, yes, our work really does matter.”

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