Happy Women’s History Month! This month, we’re highlighting the incredible women of Lund Opsahl who continuously redefine what it means to be in this industry. We sat down with Diane Genson, Senior BIM Technician. Reflecting back on her 10 years of experience, she shares what being a woman in this industry means to her and her career journey, navigating career shifts and balancing motherhood while pursuing her passion for art.

Can you describe your typical day at work?
It depends on the day of the week. Monday is our kickoff of the week where I make sure we have the resources available to accomplish everything that’s scheduled. I transfer over deadlines and make sure that we have all the work to meet those deadlines, and as the work comes in, I’ll distribute it out. I coordinate between our team and the engineers, juggling what’s coming in and what’s going back to engineers, and in between those times, I’m also doing the drafting and answering questions that people may have.

It’s a juggling act, and I thrive on that. I love chaos a bit. I have found that I really enjoy this role because I get to see the big picture of everything, and I know that nothing’s falling through the cracks.

Why did you go into drafting?
Art has been my thing since I was a baby. The first time I went to school, it was for graphic design. Then, I ended up falling into a career in title insurance. My youngest kid was two years old when I was hired, and I needed to earn more. I worked my way up to running the recording department for King and Snohomish and Pierce County for the company, and I did title insurance for about 12 years. I thought that would be my career going forward, but then the market crashed back in 2008, and the title insurance industry as a whole was declining.

So, I decided to go back to school in 2010. I wanted to find something that I could do with my art that would still support my family. Mechanical drafting came back as one of the growing industries and drafting can be used in all forms: structural, architectural, even in-house design firms.

My whole reason for going back to get my degree was to get hired at Boeing, which I did. They hired me a few weeks after I graduated, and I was there for almost two years. Then, they did one of their massive layoffs and I was still new enough that I was in that first batch. Funnily enough, my first day starting at Lund Opsahl, Boeing called me back to the office, so I had to choose between the two.

I chose Lund Opsahl, because I loved the idea, 1) of being in a smaller firm, because when I started at Lund Opsahl there was only seven employees and 2) I loved working for a female owned small business. Learning about that aspect and meeting Marjorie, who’s a really inspiring person, made me decide to go with the smaller firm. I also felt like I could do more important work in a growing firm and not just be a cog in the machine. So, that’s how I stumbled into structure, and I love it. I love modeling and drafting, and it feeds my need for order along with my love for art.

I want to help grow the culture, let girls know early on that this industry is something that they can look into, and that there are more aspects than just engineering.

What does being a woman in this industry mean to you?
I’ve always been kind of an odd duck, so I like trailblazing, although I feel almost peripheral to it all because I’m not technically in engineering—I hate to throw myself in with women that have gone through engineering school. Math is not my forte.

But I feel proud to be a part of it. I want to help grow the culture, let girls know early on that this industry is something that they can look into, and that there are more aspects than just engineering.

What in your career are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the fact that I managed to graduate eight months pregnant with my son while working and going to school full-time. I was a single mom with my ten-year-old and both my parents were battling cancer at the same time. And I graduated valedictorian with a 4.0. I’m very proud of that fact. To me, it meant I can pretty much go through anything.

Just having the nerve to go back, do it again, take it seriously, and then succeed is also something I’m really proud of. It showed my son at the time that anything’s possible, and if you work hard at it, it’s worth it.

I always encourage people who are like, “I’m not changing careers in my thirties” or whatnot to just do it. You’ve only got one life. If you’re not happy with what you’re doing, switch and do something different. I will never regret going back and switching careers.

I love ______. My kids. Number one.

Favorite Lund Opsahl project? I’ve worked on almost every project that we’ve had in the last ten years. I don’t necessarily have one favorite project, but my favorite projects are the ones that help the community around us: Ballard Food Bank, PAWS, and Othello. I like the ones that make a difference in our community.