GALVESTON, Texas (March 31, 2016) – Many of us are lucky to find one career field for which we feel a passion. However, USACE Galveston District nominee for Project Manager of the Year Byron Williams, PMP, has been fortunate enough to find two. The first, engineering, was a love that began at his father’s knee.
“He was an old school draftsman, so I was used to being surrounded by engineers as a kid when visiting his office. I even did an internship there my freshman year before declaring a major,” says Williams.
The decision to choose an engineering course of study proved to be difficult for Williams, who also contemplated becoming a high school math teacher.
“It was a tough decision as I love working with kids,” said Williams.
His passion for mentoring didn’t fall by the wayside. Shortly after finishing his own studies, Williams worked to combine his love of engineering and mentoring students at Ball High School and Reed Academy for Engineering.
Williams explained that he experienced situations in his youth where positive guidance would have gone a long way.
“I saw so many people with so few opportunities. When opportunities did occur, so many incorrect choices were made. I believe the choices people made would have been different if there would have been a voice of reason or an example to follow, as I had with my parents. If by mentoring and tutoring I can influence one kid to make better life choices, I get ecstatic.”
Williams brought his passion for mentoring into the workplace when he accepted an additional position that includes supervisory responsibility – a role that added to his responsibilities of managing high priority deep draft navigation projects including the Houston Ship Channel, Sabine Neches Waterway and Brownsville Island Harbor Channel, and a career move that caught the eye of district senior leadership.
Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management Dr. Edmond Russo, USACE Galveston District, nominated Williams for the Program Manager of the Year award in part for his willingness to accept this role.
“He is now the front line supervisor for seven project managers directly leading over half of the district’s Civil Works Program,” said Russo. “Mr. Williams accepted this position, without additional compensation, so that he could devote more time to mentoring and developing senior project managers alike.”
According to Russo, the USACE Galveston District remains focused on building strength in its workforce through balancing technical expertise with management and leadership skills to support the Corps’ current and future missions and Williams’ selection is a testament to this practice.
“I am always looking for ways to advance my career within my comfort zone,” said Williams. “We are going through changes in the way we do business. My ability to structure how we respond and react to that change makes my job easier as well as the other project managers. So it wasn’t about compensation, it was about assisting the project management branch to be the best it could be. The compensation will take care of itself.”
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Southern University and A&M College, is an adjunct instructor of project management at ITT Institute of Technology and serves as the USACE Galveston District’s Crisis Action Team Leader, which was called to action during hurricanes Ike and Rita. He lives in Houston with his wife and two children.