Nahid Afsari

Vice president, Wisconsin Group
Cotter Consulting Inc.
735 N. Water St. #1101, Milwaukee
www.cotterconsulting.com
Industry: Construction management; program/project management
Employees: 16 employees in Wisconsin; 98 company-wide
Family: Two children: 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son

What was the smartest thing Cotter Consulting’s Wisconsin office did in the past year?
“Supporting team growth. We have promoted key personnel into leadership positions and made several strategic hires. This year, we equipped all field staff with tablets to increase quality and efficiency on project sites.”

What’s new at your company?
“There are three major new initiatives. First, our internal leadership development program, called Cotter Academy. Second, we are growing project controls staff on existing projects, and third, we are expanding services for building projects to the southeastern Wisconsin and Madison markets.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“Absolutely. We plan to make strategic hires for building and vertical construction projects.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“Breaking into the market for vertical construction, but we are excited about the opportunities because of the dynamic growth in southeastern Wisconsin, especially the potential of a new Buck’s stadium and the development in surrounding areas.”

What drew you into engineering?  
“I have always loved math and science. I love building things and figuring out how they work and enjoy being involved in process development and implementation. My father is a civil engineer, so he got me excited about the profession at a young age by exposing me to his projects around Milwaukee.”

What are the most significant engineering projects you personally have worked on?
“The Marquette Interchange. I was a part of both the design team as a young structural engineer and part of the construction phase as I moved into the role of project controls. The project provided enormous opportunity for professional growth, relationship building, development and understanding of processes.

“It is always very rewarding to be a part of a project that improves quality of life by enhancing environments. I love being able to give back to my community.”

What does your recent designation by Engineering News-Record Midwest as one of the “Top 20 under 40” design and construction professionals mean to you and your office?
“While regional recognition is nice, I strive to strengthen my staff and resources through experience, training, education, and potential new hires. Our efforts are focused on exceeding expectations for existing clients and building relationships locally to develop new clients and opportunities.”

Do you have a business mantra?
“LEAD – Listen, Engage, Advise, Deliver.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“I resonate with individuals who lead by example, empower, are trustworthy and conduct business in a professional manner while taking calculated risks. I have several mentors who I turn to for advice, and I translate their advice into a solution I can be proud of and own.”

What was the best advice you ever received?  
“Be a positive agent of change.”

What do you like to do in your free time?  
“I enjoy knitting and volunteering at my children’s elementary school. I also coach youth soccer and serve on the board for the YWCA and Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).”

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