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As a civil engineer who worked on some stunning pieces of architecture around Houston, including the new Women’s Pavilion at Texas Children’s Hospital, Amy Patrick has used her degrees in engineering to complete many important projects in the city and around the country. As the owner of her own small business, Thalia Engineering Studio, she has also begun using her business skills as a manager to maintain projects, build relationships with clients and support the day-to-day operations of her company.
Tell us about your current position. What does it entail?
“My current position entails multiple roles. As CEO of my own small engineering firm, I’m in charge of the lion’s share of the engineering work. I also get to do all my own business development, and all employee development and training is up to me. I do my own billing, but I coordinate with an accountant, and I have a great answering service who helps initially field new clients. Still, as manager of all that goes on here, everything is ultimately my responsibility, which is both a blessing and a bit terrifying.”
How has your education prepared you for your very impressive career?
“I was a civil engineering major at Rice, where I got my bachelor’s degree in 2004. I received my master’s degree in structural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006. I definitely feel as though my education prepared me for what I’m doing now. Not only did I learn the technical side of things in my engineering classes, but I learned a lot about time management, project management and rhetoric. A lot of what I do as a consulting engineer is really just teaching. If I hadn’t had so many excellent professors to emulate, and if I hadn’t had the opportunity to teach as a graduate student, I’m not sure my voice as a teacher would be nearly as well-defined.”
Have you participated in any form of continuing education since beginning this position?
“As an engineer licensed by the state, I’m required to earn a certain number of continuing education credits in order to maintain that license. In addition to formal education, I have to learn a dozen new things on my own on a daily basis in order to keep afloat. Starting my own firm has been one of the most intense educational experiences I’ve ever had.”
Do you have any advice for people interested in starting their own business?
“You have to be a certain shade of crazy in order to start your own company. If you have the audacity to think you can change the world by setting an example for everybody else, then entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to try to do that. Towards the outset, there’s a very fine line between being self-employed and being unemployed. I knew that it’d be the big ‘what if’ of my life if I didn’t at least try.”
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.