All About the Journey
Meet Mike Hanson, McGill’s Eastern Regional Manager
Michael Hanson (Mike), PE, LEED AP, joined McGill in 2018 to expand and grow McGill’s water resources service offerings for communities across the Southeast. With over 30 years of experience and licensed in nine states, Mike brought to McGill expertise in watershed assessments, stormwater master planning, drainage infrastructure design, wetland creation, stream restoration, floodplain management, and water quality modeling. In a little over two years, he has built a dedicated team of water resource professionals who consistently apply their technical knowledge and the latest innovations to our clients’ toughest challenges. Mike’s success at McGill led to his recent promotion to Regional Manager over McGill’s eastern offices (Raleigh, Pinehurst, Smithfield, and Shallotte).
We sat down with Mike to learn about what inspires him in his work and his new role.
Q: What inspired you to pursue water resources as a career?
A: While attending Polk State College in Florida, I completed an internship with a local engineering firm doing drafting and working with AutoCAD, a new product at the time. I had the opportunity to work on a digital watershed masterplan that was delivered to Polk County, Florida. This was the first digital masterplan delivered in the state of Florida. It was from this experience that I learned how combining technology and engineering could develop into a challenging and satisfying career.
Q: Do you have a favorite project you have worked on over the years?
A: During my time at Boyle Engineering, I managed the design and construction of the Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility in Sarasota County, Florida. Managing this project provided me an opportunity to learn a wide range of topics, including site design, mass grading, hydraulic modeling, road design, athletic facilities, pedestrian trails, wetlands, grant management, construction administration, and client relations – all of which I utilize on projects today.
This is a 500-acre site providing flood control for over 1,500 acres, along with improving water quality and a passive park. We converted historically drained and farmed lands into a surface-water management system of wetland, open water, and upland habitats. It delivers cleaner water to Phillippi Creek and ultimately to Roberts Bay North and Sarasota Bay. One of the first expressions of the now popular “stormwater park” concept, Celery Fields has grown to be a frequently visited destination in Sarasota County for bird watching and passive recreational use.
Q: You have built McGill’s water resource service offerings over the last three years. What value does your team bring to a project?
A: Adding a specific water resources service offering enhances our expertise in-house. McGill values our strong relationships with clients, and we now can expand that value by increasing capabilities, including hydraulics and water resources design, permitting, and stormwater program management. Clients of all sizes are being touched by regulatory drivers and they look to us to provide this expertise. Beyond what we technically provide, the McGill service model is equally important. We collaborate with clients to identify their challenges, find solutions, and – in many cases – offer alternatives for cost containment and a variety of funding strategies.
Q: You were recently promoted to McGill’s Regional Manager. What specifically are you doing in your new role?
A: Strategic thinking is an important part of this role, specifically bringing together resources from across McGill to offer the same capabilities to all clients. We have a vast array of services available. Our goal is to make these services available in all of McGill’s geographical markets – breaking down barriers and improving communication pathways to operate more effectively. This will continue to enhance the products and services we deliver to our clients.
Q: What excites you the most in working with clients and various offices?
A: For me, it is all about the journey – being able to talk to clients and work with them to understand their issues and challenges. I can utilize my 30 years of experience and the capabilities of McGill to provide them a wide range of solutions. It’s about helping them find a pathway forward that is cost effective and advances their community. Every client is unique. Every client has personal needs, and my job is to fit the puzzle together from the data provided. Every day is a new day – a potential opportunity to improve a community.
Q: Are there any specific changes you see that will impact the industry in the next three to five years?
A: Climate change is here to stay and likely will get worse. We are seeing the intensity and frequency of major storms increase. This, coupled with the effects of sea level rise, is greatly impacting coastal communities. However, no one is exempt from climate change. We are also seeing the effects of stronger storms inland through increased run-off and more frequent flooding. Our rivers are not capable of handling the intense rainfall – it is touching everyone. Our work on Rhodes Pond Dam is just one example of how the trends we are seeing in climate change are changing how we design for the future.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time to unwind?
A: I enjoy playing frisbee golf with my son. It gives me an opportunity to interact with nature, get outside, and breathe fresh air while having some fun competition. Another one of my hobbies is woodworking and building furniture.