Leila Nodarse, TERRACON CONSULTANTS FLORIDA DIVISION LEADER
The first female Division Leader in Terracon, Leila Nodarse, now leads the initiative to recruit and develop professional women in the company. Terracon, a consulting engineering firm that specializes in environmental, facilities, geotechnical and materials, has 12 division leaders and 150 offices nationally.
“Terracon encourages women to be in all our discussions of strategic initiatives and it has been interesting to see how the dynamic improves,” Nodarse commented. “Our CEO, David Gaboury, is a big advocate of advancing women in the engineering profession and has been very intentional about including women in all our significant discussions.”
Nodarse’s father was a prominent geotechnical engineer and mentored some of the practicing engineers in Central Florida. He started his own company when she was 16 and Nodarse was quickly enlisted to help out. This also meant tagging along on construction site visits or to phosphate mines on her Saturday mornings. “So, it is really in my genes,” she said.
Unfortunately, her dad passed away three years ago, but Nodarse and others have continued to honor his legacy. Each year in April, the family hosts a Jammal Lecture at UCF through an endowment that she set up, bringing an engineer lecturer that not only touches on the technical aspects of engineering work, but on the ways in which engineers touch the community. Nodarse is a University of Central Florida civil engineering graduate.
“We need more women in all the technical professions, especially engineering; it is a great profession for men and women.”
As the Florida Division Leader, she is responsible for eight offices, which includes over 400 people, so every day brings something new. She emphasized, “Our company has a culture of safety that influences everything we do,” Nodarse said. “That is my top concern –that everyone goes home to their family safely at night.”
Helping clients with challenging technical problems is often as simple as being able to communicate the problem and solution so that everyone, including regulators and the approving agencies, understands.
“Most solutions are pretty simple once you truly define the problem,” Nodarse said. An interesting perspective coming from a firm that provides services on thousands of environmental site assessment and geotechnical evaluation projects each year. For Nodarse, women bring a more intuitive and emotional intelligence approach to all aspects of business and problem solving.
“The big misconception about engineering is that you need to be good in math and enjoy math, but engineering is about people – solving their problems and making the world a better place. What could be better than that?”