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Best Under 40: Carolyn Grieves

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 8:50 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 8:52 a.m. CDT
(H. Rick Bamman -
Carolyn Grieves

Age: 39 Occupation: Environmental engineer, Baxter & Woodman Residence: Crystal Lake Hometown: Born in Paisley, Scotland, but grew up in Oswego and attended high school in Batavia Family: Single Education: Bachelor's degree in civil engineering, University of Illinois; master's in environmental engineering, University of Iowa Favorite McHenry County restaurant? Bimbo’s in McHenry. The red and white lasagna is amazing! I’m positive the tomato sauce cancels out any potential unhealthy aspect of the delicious béchamel sauce! Favorite movie? "The Black Stallion" – best movie ever! One word that describes you? Oldest-child

What is your job and what makes you so good at it?

I am an engineer and focus on municipal water and environmental systems. The “Dilbert” cartoons are somewhat accurate about engineers, believe it or not. However, what may be a little known fact is that engineers also need to be as good with people as much as they love a good spreadsheet. I truly enjoy working with people and helping them find solutions.

What accomplishments and innovations are you most proud of this year?

One of my favorite aspects of my job is working with and encouraging my staff in both of my departments. I am most proud when I see one of my people achieving something they didn’t think they could do and I witness them excel in their own careers.  

How do you give back to the community and what drives your service?

I try to be involved in community events. It’s nice to feel like you’re part of the bigger picture.

What is something you have never done but want to do some day?

Buy an Italian villa on “House Hunters International.”

What is the best career advice you have received?

When my dad retired from his work as an engineer he sent out a message to all of his employees and he sent me a copy. There was one sentence in that email that I remind myself of often: Volunteer your thoughts, opinions, and time. This impacted me because I believe that succeeding in your career is more than meeting the minimum 9-5 requirements – it’s about being involved in your company and dedicating your own time and not expecting anything in return.

Nominator’s comment:

“Under Carolyn’s leadership, water and environmental engineering services are provided to over 65 clients annually in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin – helping make Baxter & Woodman one of the country’s top 500 design firms as ranked by Engineering News-Record, a national trade publication,” coworker Sheli Eisele said.

“Carolyn is a strong advocate for clean water and specializes in the design of municipal water supply, treatment and distribution systems. She helped establish the Illinois Water Agency Response Network (ILWARN). ILWARN is a mutual aid system in which water utilities pledge to use their personnel, equipment, and vehicles to provide support sustaining and restoring water utility operations to any member community statewide that is affected by a natural or man-made disaster.

“Her can-do attitude, tireless worth ethic and infectious energy have earned her the respect and admiration of clients and colleagues alike.”

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