Education: BS, electrical engineering, San Francisco State University
First Job: Engineering Aide, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
What I'm Reading: "Double Comfort Safari Club" by Alexander McCall Smith
My Philosophy: Work hard, have fun, be honest.
Peggy McCullough • Bechtel
Project Director, Waste Treatment Plant2015 award winner
I have been with the Bechtel Group for most of my career. Our business is incredibly dynamic, driven by world events, civil infrastructure needs, and the capital investments our customers are willing to make, based on global demand for their product. For me, personally, responding to these challenges has included relocating my family multiple times, taking on new assignments, and traveling extensively for business. Flexibility in supporting business objectives has been key in enabling me to stand out.
I sought breadth of experience in assignments—design, systems integration and test, business development, project management, and functional management—and performed these roles in multiple geographic locations. The breadth of those assignments gave me exposure to a large population of peers and senior leaders within the company, and vice versa. Performing well helped me to get noticed.
I study every new situation I enter. What are the client needs and drivers? What will delight them? What pressure is my supervisor under and how can I help? What are the dynamics in the group? What is the broader business objective for the organization I have joined? What will make us successful? I ask questions and listen. This process has always revealed where I can help improve performance and customer satisfaction. And having a happy, satisfied customer is a great way to stand out.
The advice I give other women is this: Raise issues and identify problems, but at the same time, suggest solutions. That’s a great way to stand out. And don’t wait for others to make assumptions about what you are willing to do. Let leadership know if you’re mobile, or if you’re interested in another role. Opportunities are more likely to arise if leadership knows what you are able and willing to do.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Understand your customer’s needs and drivers. Care about people’s success (both customers and employees). Delight them if you can.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
My mother, an independent business owner (a farmer along with my father), was an important role model for me. The mother of 12 children, she was caring, but firm.
On Facing Challenges
My biggest challenge to date was moving to Australia without my husband and sons to build a coal mine.
Peggy’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Nothing supports career progression more than succeeding in your current role.