We recently asked Nate McKinney about his new role as Vice President and Technical Practice Leader for our Engineering group. We learned more about his background, the focus Braun Intertec puts on continuous improvement and what he looks for in a new team member.
What is your current role at Braun Intertec?
I am a Vice President and the Technical Practice Leader for the Engineering group at Braun Intertec. This means I work closely with the leaders of our Engineering and Testing group, Sean Swartz and Ryan Venable, to strengthen the technical excellence of our group. I also serve our clients on a variety of projects across the Upper Midwest.
What is your professional background?
I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering and have been practicing geotechnical engineering with Braun Intertec ever since. While it’s varied over the years, some portion of my day is always devoted to materials testing management and oversight as well. I have worked my way through various leadership roles in our Minnesota and North Dakota operations and part of what I like about my current role is that I get to engage with staff across our entire company.
What interested you in your profession?
In high school, I won our balsa wood bridge building competition and that really sparked my interest in civil engineering. Through my college coursework I homed in on the geotechnical part of the practice which led me to Braun Intertec. From there, my interest was solidified when I realized how diverse geotechnical engineering really is, and how each project is a new and unique challenge.
What is your favorite aspect of your role or the most rewarding part of what you do at Braun Intertec?
The favorite part of my role is that I get to keep looking for ways that we can be better. I don’t like to be stagnant and I enjoy new challenges. My role enables me to thrive in an environment that focuses on continuous improvement.
How do our different technical specialties interact with one another?
We have a diverse array of technical services that we offer but in some way, shape, or form they are all interrelated. While each service line could be its own “business”, we have continued to evolve our structure so that each service is intended to feed off and compliment the others. We strive to keep the lines of communication open to strategize how we can provide value by efficiently and effectively showing up as a team.
What traits do you look for in your team members?
First and foremost, I value someone who is a hard worker. If you’re willing to put in the extra effort to accomplish a task and meet a deadline, that goes a long way with me. I value someone who is a good communicator with clients and all levels of our organization. We are a relationship-based firm and that is tough to accomplish if you do not have the interpersonal skills to communicate amongst a wide variety of people. I also value someone who is willing to try new opportunities and has a desire to learn and grow. I’ve experienced the benefits of this myself and I try to encourage people to do the same.
What should new Braun Intertec employees know about working here? Do you have a piece of advice for someone entering your profession?
When opportunity knocks, don’t be afraid to open the door. We work on a wide variety of projects, operate across a large geographic area, and have many different avenues for professional growth. This brings opportunities to see and do new things and sometimes that is intimidating for someone new, but I think you’ll find opening the door can be very rewarding.
What are some of your hobbies, or things you like to do outside of work?
My three kids keep me busy with coaching and family time. When I can work in time for some hobbies, I enjoy camping, hunting with my pudelpointer, and fishing all year long. It’s a good time when I can work all three into one day!