Launch Slideshow

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Top Leaders

Top Leaders

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    Steven Hansen's greatest challenge is maintaining aging infrastructure. Incorporated in 1829, Liberty, Mo., juggles the need to meet demands of a growing population with system components that date back 100 years or more. Photo: Sara Cooke

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    Morton, Ill., superintendent of public works Bob Wraight credits his organization's efficiency to its horizontal structure. “The more levels there are between the top and the bottom, the more communication breakdowns there are,” he says. Photo: Marc Nix

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    Kurt Corey poses with Lily the Pacific Green Tree Frog, the mascot for SPLASH (Stormwater Pollution: Learn and Share), an educational outreach program in Eugene, Ore. Photo: Kurt Corey

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    As former commissioner of transportation and works for the Regional Municipality of York, Ontario, Kees Schipper served a community that grew by an average of 40,000 people per year. Photo: Gail Lemieux

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    In 2005, Larry Lux visited Australia to compare the country's emergency management programs to American programs. He attended Australian football games, and got up close and personal with kangaroos, dingos, wombats, and fairy penguins. Photo: Larry Lux

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Youthful enthusiasm

Flip Bombardier turns to younger counterparts for energy.

While veteran engineers have much experience and knowledge to offer, they shouldn't overlook the potential contributions of their younger counterparts.

“Young engineers are great—they bring energy, fresh ideas, and varying perspectives to the table,” says Flip Bombardier. “The different personality profiles and generation perspectives that they exemplify can be totally different than the baby boomers'thinking. If we don't adapt to these differences, we might find ourselves left behind.”

In turn, young engineers should seek experienced professionals for guidance. When he was younger, Bombardier benefited from the advice and experience of two mentors: former Gastonia public works directors Sam Wilkins and Don Carmichael.

“They exemplified professionalism and integrity, and were willing to not only provide me an opportunity to grow in my career, but to actively support that effort, and to share their talents with myself and others,” he says.

And just because he has more than a quarter-century of experience under his belt doesn't mean he has met all of his goals, or stopped developing and growing.

“From a public works genie, my three wishes would be providing better and evolving solutions for the public works challenges we face daily, utilizing our worldwide resources and technologies to make this a better place to live for all peoples while protecting our natural resources for future generations, and achieving a greater knowledge and understanding of the actual challenges,” he says.

J. Philip “Flip” Bombardier, assistant city manager of operations, Gastonia, N.C.
  • Years in public works: 27
  • City stats: 68,800 residents live in Gastonia; the city's public works department has a staff of 906 employees and a budget of more than $160 million.
  • Previous job: He spent two years as a site superintendent for a Charlotte home-builder, providing experience that would benefit him as both an engineer and as a homeowner.
  • Fun fact: Spare-time pursuits include racquetball and weightlifting, which he calls “great stress-management exercises.”