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What was your path: Melinda B. Peters

Melinda B. Peters

Melinda B. Peters

Melinda B. Peters
Partner, RK&K

How did you choose your career path?
I always did well in math and science in school. I had a great guidance counselor in high school who encouraged me to consider engineering for my major. During my freshman year in college, I did research on the various types of engineering, and civil engineering had a broad list of types of work. Civil engineering really leads the team on building things, whether it be roads, bridges or other features. That interested me greatly.

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
I have had challenges but learned that sometimes you have to fail in order to eventually succeed.

I did not initially get into the engineering program at Virginia Tech, but it was my first choice for college. I decided to go to Virginia Tech and try to get into the engineering program after my first semester. I could have gone to several other colleges and started in those engineering programs, but I really loved Virginia Tech. I worked very hard my first semester, applied and was one of the very few students accepted into the engineering program for the second semester.

What lessons did you learn?
Throughout my career, I have learned that you need to have a network to rely on. It is important to learn from others, so being able to rely on your network can be important to your own success. Having a mentor or several mentors or advocates can be so helpful to your career. I was most fortunate to have supervisors throughout my career who took an interest in my career gave me incredible opportunities and allowed me to learn along the way.

How do you maintain your passion for the job?
Transportation is an exciting industry. Our business is always changing, and the future includes a lot of uncertainty, and we can help set the course. I am thankful to work with very talented people who deliver. I truly enjoy working with teams to solve problems and develop solutions. We can chart the future with our ideas. I get excited to get up every day and support an outstanding team that delivers.

What’s next for you, personally or professionally?
Professionally, I am excited to help our firm, RK&K, as we approach our centennial anniversary. I am excited to be part of the team and work with everyone, from interns to senior leaders, to continue to grow the work we do and support our clients.

Personally, I enjoy being involved in several boards, including my alma mater, Virginia Tech’s Civil Engineering Board. It is rewarding to be part of a team providing feedback on the program and how our industry continues to change. Interacting with college students is so exciting and gives me great pride and hope for our future.

What advice do you have for younger women hoping to follow your career path?
Take on challenges as an important way to learn. Most career paths are not linear, so remember that with each challenge you learn along the way. So, if someone puts a unique opportunity in front of you, give it a try. Also, having a mentor or champion in your career will help you be successful. Know that as you grow in your career, you need to mentor others.

Remember that networks are important. Every individual you meet is actually someone who is part of your network. Listen and take time to learn from others.

Melinda B. Peters, PE
Personal: I grew up in Prince George’s County.

Education: BS Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech; MBA, Mount St. Mary’s University.

Professional: I am proud to have spent the first 20 years of my career working for the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration. Being a public servant taught me so much about customer service, dedication and what an emergency really is. Presently, I am proud to be a partner at RK&K. We have an amazing team of professionals who are dedicated to delivering for our clients, and every day is a new and exciting opportunity.

Three things most people don’t know about me:

  • I wanted to go into construction after college but took advice from a mentor and started in design.
  • I was a swimmer growing up and dreamed about swimming in the Olympics. I never got there, but I worked hard to try and achieve that goal.
  • I wanted to go to law school when I finished my MBA.

Women Who Lead This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Women Who Lead: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Women Who Lead (formerly Path to Excellence) magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Women Who Lead.