Engineer Tiffany Labrie Exemplifies the Impact of Women in the Engineering Industry
By Regina Sibilia
Vice President Tiffany Labrie has worked to grow her engineering career over the last 15 years and has become a leader at Tighe & Bond both in the field and at the corporate level, joining the firm’s Board of Directors in 2019. Always knowing that she had an aptitude for math and science, Labrie set out to find a profession that would include those strengths but originally engineering was not in the cards, she wanted to be a nurse. It was not until engineering was brought to her attention that her goals shifted.
“I can remember being in high school and being faced with the looming question of ‘what career track do you want?’ and having zero appreciation for what engineering was,” said Labrie. “It really wasn’t until I was faced with making those decisions that thankfully I had a counselor and a family friend or two who said, ‘you like science and math, you should look into engineering.’ But had I not had those couple of people in my life that suggested it to me I would not have known what it was or even pursued it.”
Attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Labrie began searching for her niche and she discovered how she could shape her community through civil engineering.
“I went to the intro class [for civil engineering] and I absolutely loved it and what I loved about civil engineering was that, to me, it made the world make sense,” said Labrie. “I learned about things that I never knew before that we take for granted every day. For example, how wastewater and drinking water are conveyed, treated, distributed, and collected. We’re talking about basic human needs and providing for the public which I really liked.”
Labrie went on to join Tighe & Bond in 2005 as a water and wastewater treatment engineer and has designed and managed water and wastewater conveyance and treatment projects throughout New England. Her experience spans all phases of engineering including planning, designing, permitting, construction observation, and administration services. She also is responsible for Tighe & Bond’s master specification and standard documents program for services during bidding, award, and construction. As she continues to flourish in her career, Labrie is reflecting on how the increased presence of women pursuing engineering is influencing changes in the industry.
“I think one way that women help shape the industry is that sometimes women approach projects slightly different than men do which is why I think it’s really great to have teams with both men and women on projects because you get as many perspectives as possible,” noted Labrie. “Women’s different experiences in life shapes the way that we approach problems and the way that we handle communication with our clients and our teams. I think in many cases we have an even better outcome to have many different perspectives.”
Labrie recognizes that building a more diverse workforce means there is a need for community outreach and exposure to STEM education for young people of all backgrounds. Labrie has volunteered in various mentorship roles for the Distinguished Young Women Program of Greater Easthampton since 2005. She serves on the Advisory Council of the UMass Amherst Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. At Tighe & Bond, she leads the firm’s annual fundraising appeal to support the UMass Amherst student chapters of Engineers Without Borders and the American Society of Civil Engineers. Labrie also hopes that by becoming a leader in her field, the next generation (including her two daughters) will be inspired to pursue any career they choose.
“I do hope that one day my kids will look back and see that I continued my career throughout their life,” said Labrie. “I hope they look back on that and see it as an example that this career was important to me, that it was always a part of me, and always something that I did even though I’m their Mom too. I’m hoping that I’m leading by example and that other females in the industry and my own daughters see that I want to be [in this career] and encourage the next person to do it too.”
Labrie is continually recognized for her exceptional leadership on the job and within communities. She was the recipient of a 2016 Outstanding Junior Alumni Award from the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering. Honored as an “extraordinary member” of its alumni community, this celebrated her substantial efforts and notable successes early in her career. In 2018, Labrie was also honored by BusinessWest as a “40 Under 40” award recipient in Western Massachusetts.