Spotlight on Lesley S. Marshall

This month we are very proud to feature Lesley S. Marshall, P.E.

Lesley graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Architectural Engineering in 1992 and joined E.A. Bonelli in 1993.

She became a project manager in 1996 and, as our longest-tenured PM, continues to ensure project success with proactive problem-solving skills and a hands-on approach that runs from preliminary meetings through construction site visits.

In 2014, Lesley joined the ownership group of EAB and, as our V.P. of Structural Engineering, she has been instrumental in guiding the next generation of EAB engineers through their professional growth and development.

We sat down with Lesley to learn more about her educational inspirations, career path, and enthusiasm for food & beverage facility design.

As a high school sophomore I took a drafting elective on a whim. It ended up being, quite possibly, the most significant class that I took in high school. The teacher, Mr. Hansen, is one of the only teachers that I still remember to this day. He was so energetic and very vocal about how he thought Cal Poly was the best school around, and how we could take these drafting classes and learn how to draw and design buildings. I never imagined that I would be interested in Structural Engineering, but Mr. Hansen made it sound so exciting that I took the leap and never looked back.

You chose a very male-dominated field, Lesley. What was that like, initially, and what are your feelings about that today?

It never really crossed my mind about working in a male-dominated field when I was entering school, until I started my coursework and realized I was one of just a handful of women in almost all my classes. Other than it being a little odd or different, it didn’t bother me back then and it certainly doesn’t bother me now.

Lesley at a jobsite in Colorado in 2011

What do you remember about the first project that you managed?

The first time I managed a project was in 1996 when I took charge of the structural portion of the Columbia River Processing project for Tillamook Cheese. This was in Boardman, along the Columbia River in Oregon. I loved being able to coordinate with other disciplines. It was my first job where I would travel to the jobsite and make contact with the Contractors, as well as the other engineers. It gave me invaluable insight as to what happens once the drawings are complete.

At E.A. Bonelli, all we do is facility design for the food & beverage industries. What is it about this focus that excites you?

As Architects and Engineers, I love that food and beverage facility design incorporates both aspects of architecture and engineering. Not only are we responsible for designing a “Building that Works," but we are always designing for the hygienic nature of the building as well. Even from a structural perspective, this trains our thinking towards materials that are often quite different from other buildings or projects.

You've worked on so many different cheese-making facilities in your almost three decades at EAB. But do you have a favorite cheese?

There are so many different cheeses on the market, but good ol’ Cheddar is my favorite style of cheese by far. Particularly aged white sharp cheddar. A good grilled cheese sandwich with aged white cheddar is the best!