Reflections on Episode 5 of the Empowering Women Podcast

You_got_this photo with podcast

In episode 5, Mel discusses work-life balance with Jackie Saling!  Jackie has over seventeen years of professional experience in the environmental consulting industry and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan. At Arcadis, Ms. Saling is lead engineer for several large accounts where she develops technical project strategy, effectively communicates complex technical concepts to clients, regulators, and stakeholders, and builds strong technical project teams to execute complex technical solutions to meet the needs of clients. Ms. Saling supports the in-situ remediation discipline at Arcadis and has led the air sparge and soil vapor extraction (AS/SVE) and in-situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) communities of practice. Through these roles, she is known as a national resource within the company to provide assistance with the evaluation of Sites for the use of in situ remedies; designing and performing field pilot tests; full scale design and implementation; and optimization of the operation of in situ remedies. In addition, Ms. Saling’s engineering-related experience includes developing feasibility studies and remedial strategies; designing and performing pilot tests; designing and installing full-scale remediation systems; troubleshooting and optimizing remedial systems; generating design specifications, remedial investigation work plans, remedial action work plans, and associated project reports; developing project budgets; and preparing cost analyses for remedial alternatives.

It took me a while to get started writing my reflections to this podcast because I could relate to all of it…  I felt connected to Jackie almost immediately.  Her truth and authenticity was so refreshing and I thought… “I could hang out with this lady!” Personally and Professionally, I truly respected her leadership and communication styles that I heard throughout the interview.

The first thing that got my attention was her discussion about her life as a working mom.  Being a mom is hard.  Being a working mom is demanding on you mentally and physically.  I loved Jackie’s openness saying “It is Hard!” Jackie explains that we need to accept help from those who offer. To appreciate the gifts of the other people in your life and to recognize these will not be the same as yours.   I often times tried to do it all myself and would run myself to exhaustion. Now I remind my daughter all the time,  “it is ok to receive help”

We put so much pressure on ourselves and judge working moms vs stay-at-home moms after our children go to elementary school.  This is not a fair comparison nor a productive one.  Suddenly we receive 500 flyers letting us know how you are not at school enough. If we accept this lie (we are telling ourselves), we will be defeated.  Similarly to Jackie, I made a conscious decision to define my own balance. I don’t signup for things just to be signing up anymore.  I also agree with Jackie that giving up anytime with our children MUST be for something meaningful!  We work not for a paycheck, but to do our part to better our communities for our children.

I am also so thankful for the discussion about choosing a supportive partner that understands your commitment to your career.  I think this partnership is the only way for success in today’s society.  We must stop saying “homeroom mom” and start letting “parents” participate in the raising of our children.   AND let me just say, Jackie women all over the world are envious of the “folder of the laundry” you found!  I can’t even pay someone to do it at my house 😀

I have two sons and a daughter and I have the challenge of raising them all to be leaders and respect their unique gifts. I often times get push back when I am all about girl power from husband and my sons.  It is very important to me that my sons know the value of women and girls and how to be supportive. Navigating the correct amount of attention to certain topics is not an easy task, but I loved how Jackie spoke about educating her girls on leadership.   If we take that position, we will be developing our sons and daughters ability to succeed… as leaders.

It is refreshing to hear Jackie share the truths about her challenges along the way.  When she talks about coming from college with a diverse community to the male dominated workspace, I can relate. You gradually feel that you are more and more singled out the further to push to grow or advance in your career.

She navigated this by looking to senior female leadership.  I believe this is one of the keys to success.  We need to make sure we have a peer group to connect with on a regular basis.  I agree with her when she says networking is everything!

Listening to Jackie’s career journey, I am reminded just how important hands-on, field work can be to progressing in your career. Jackie talks about how she was able to design systems, watch them be installed, and then operated them.  What a great way to learn… from design to operating!

Jackie has a curiosity for learning new things and taking on challenges.  Early in her career, she read books to gain the technical knowledge she needed.  I love the excitement you can hear in her voice as she talks about first meeting the “writer of the resource books” which set her path in remediation.

Her expertise in Remediation is impressive in itself, but she took it one step forward when she worked on the Arcadis pro-bono project.  This project allowed her to improve the quality of life for her community.   Check it out here: :

She is focused on going above and beyond.  Simply managing technical people and products, isn’t all she does.   She is actively connecting with the management staff at Arcadis to make sure they are bringing up the next generation of leaders!

If you haven’t listened to Jackie’s podcast episode, please take the time. It was truly inspiring!

Time for me to listen to the next episode!


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