Sunday, January 27, 2002

Lisa Rowell


'People must strive for excellence'

By John Eckberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        She did not know it then, but Lisa Rowell's career was born years ago, probably at a bus stop in Dayton, where she waited patiently at 7:15 a.m. each weekday morning for the No.4 bus.

        The bus would take her downtown to Patterson Cooperative High School and Mr. Darding's drafting class. On that 20-minute ride to downtown, she was already bound for a career. She just didn't know it.

        It was a cooperative school setting for the 15-year-old: two weeks in class, two weeks at a job.

        From the first week, after she saw Mr. Darding post the work from the student who had the neatest lettering on the front board and then the rest of the class in descending order, she knew what she wanted.

        That first week, her letters were ranked No.18 in neatness. The next week her letters were No.3. Still, Ms. Rowell was not satisfied. She wanted to be No.1.

        By the third week, she got there, and from then on, she was never far off the top spot.

        “Everything depends on the hand you're dealt,” she says today from the Blue Ash offices of Infrastructure Services, a civil and structural engineering firm where she is a partner in charge of business development and marketing. “It all depends on opportunity.”

        Ms. Rowell, a civil engineer with a civil-engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati, is now charged with finding opportunity for this growing firm, which has offices in Cincinnati and Akron.

        A Kennedy Heights resident, Ms. Rowell looks for opportunities in a timeless way. She networks with other professionals.

        Ms. Rowell, 38, is a member of the Cincinnati Building Appeals Board, Society for Marketing Professional Services and the Greater Cincinnati Mortgage Counseling Service, where low- to moderate-income families obtain home-ownership support.

        “I think this is true: whatever dreams you have, they can be acquired as long as you stay focused,” she says. Is she a symbol of a new and growing group of professionals, that is, African-American women? Probably, she acknowledges.

        The secret of most professionals, she says, is not all that complicated. Never be satisfied with good enough.

        “I set goals daily and I set goals for three years from now,” Ms. Rowell says. “People must strive for excellence and if you do that, you can obtain anything.”

       



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