We recently sat down with Mike Beck to learn more about his role as Vice President of Upper Midwest Environmental Consulting, what he likes best about working at Braun Intertec, his role as the environmental consulting technical practice team leader and how he approaches client problem-solving.
What is your current role at Braun Intertec?
I’m a principal engineer and vice president working in the environmental consulting group; I consult on environmental projects for our clients, but I also lead our environmental consulting technical practice team. Our focus on the team is to make sure we’re collecting high quality environmental samples, adapting procedures to comply with constantly evolving regulations, and generating high quality deliverables.
What is your professional background?
I’ve been an environmental consultant for 27 years and eight of those years have been with Braun Intertec. For my entire career, I’ve been performing environmental investigations, developing remediation solutions, and managing remediation contractors during field implementation. I began my consulting career in California and have worked on projects in many different states. As far as my educational background, I have a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota and a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University.
What interested you about your profession?
I wanted a job where I could work outside and solve technical problems. When I interviewed for my first engineering job, a senior engineer told me there are two types of engineers: those who want to build things and those who want to solve problems. I’ve found that to be true and I am an engineer who is energized by solving technical problems.
What is your favorite aspect of your role or the most rewarding part of what you do at Braun Intertec?
On the project side, it’s helping clients succeed in their business. Clients come to us with business needs and they often don’t understand the technical aspects of their own projects. Why would they? We are the technical experts! Working with clients to define the technical aspects of their problems, developing solutions, and successfully implementing them is satisfying and rewarding. On the technical practice team side, helping the environmental consulting team work more efficiently and helping them interpret or adjust to constantly evolving regulations is enjoyable for me.
What is your favorite thing about working at Braun Intertec? What makes Braun Intertec unique?
One of my favorite things about working at Braun Intertec is the wide variety of technical specialties that we have. Most environmental consulting firms don’t have their own drill rigs, geotechnical experts, and building scientists. At previous firms, I’ve had to subcontract that kind of work, but at Braun Intertec, I can assemble a team of internal technical experts from multiple disciplines and work together. This gives us a real advantage over other firms.
What is your approach to client problem-solving?
My approach is to understand the client’s business and what they really need. Our clients have business problems, not technical problems. We do technical work and use the tools we have to solve their business problems. That’s what takes the longest to understand when you come out of college trained as an engineer to solve technical problems. As you’re around longer, you get the sense that this is all about our clients’ business.
What traits do you look for in your team members?
I look for team members that are responsive, detail-oriented and, who will really take ownership of their work. Young environmental staff don’t need to understand the big picture or how to do everything—we can train staff to do the work and the big picture will become clearer with experience—but you need those three traits to excel as an environmental consultant.
What should new Braun Intertec employees know about working here? Do you have a piece of advice for someone entering your profession?
My advice to new consultants is to learn about as many different aspects of our business as possible while you are new to the business, instead of focusing on a specialty right away. There are opportunities at Braun Intertec to do lots of different things and wear lots of different hats. Those different experiences will set you up to become an excellent consultant.
What are some of your hobbies, or things you like to do outside of work?
In January, my wife and I became ‘empty nesters’, so we’re getting to do more things that don’t involve our kids’ activities. We love to pull our camper around to as many state parks as possible. Personally, I enjoy hiking, backpacking, hunting, and fishing. I like to be outside as much as I can!