Meet Yolanda Favors
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working with the City of Atlanta Department of Transportation on the Renew Atlanta-TSPLOST project as the Project Controls Manager. I am currently developing plans, policies, and standard operating procedures for the Atlanta Department of Transportation to ensure federal, state, and local regulatory compliance in their transit activities.
How long have you been with Atkins, F+G or SNC-Lavalin?
I started with SNC-Lavalin in July 2015 and was transferred to Atkins in January 2019.
Why did you choose to be an attorney as your career?
It is kind of a funny story. As I was returning to my senior year at the Catholic University of America (to obtain a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance), my father asked me what I was going to do after graduation. I simply said, “I don’t know.” I did know that I did not want to do the starving artist thing in New York City. He said, “Why don’t you go to law school?” I responded, “Ok!” A year later, I was at Georgetown Law Center.
What do you love about your current project?
This project is what I do! I am a contract and regulatory compliance attorney with over 30 years’ experience in administering complex commercial contracts, overseeing local, state, and regulatory compliance, and providing strategic legal advice to executive management. My practice focuses on transactional and regulatory matters relating to transportation and infrastructure projects. I enjoy working with public transportation agencies to plan, construct, and operate public transit projects, including fixed-guideway project development, right-of-way acquisitions, policy and procedure development, and the FTA Safety and Security Certification process.
What do you do in your free time?
I am the Board of Directors’ Secretary for my family’s charity, Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless in Atlanta, GA. We are working to open a business incubator to educate and assist low-income future entrepreneurs. I was also raised amid the Civil Rights Movement as my father, Hosea Williams, was a member of Dr. King’s executive staff. I give speeches around the country and am writing a book showing how the Civil Rights Movement’s methodologies can be used to develop individual leadership skills and allow companies to create an emotional connection with their customers.
What does Equality, Diversity & Inclusion mean to you?
My parents taught me that all human beings have the inalienable right to be treated with dignity and respect. In the workplace, employees and potential candidates should be judged by their work ethic, creativity, level of execution, and quality of work. Their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. should never be considered in employment decisions. Studies have repeatedly shown that companies with robust diversity and inclusion programs regularly outproduce companies with a more homogenous culture. A diverse culture allows for more creativity and innovation as people from different backgrounds offer wide-ranging opinions and solutions, and employees are happier. A happy employee is a productive employee. Finally, clients are drawn to companies that consistently exhibit employees of different backgrounds at executive management levels.
My advice to others:
1. Lock away the "what ifs:" I call this a pull on potentiality. You have to believe in yourself more than anyone else. If you want something, go after it. Do not worry about how or when you can make it happen. Just create a plan and work toward your goal. The universe is like a copy machine; you will get out of it what you put in.
2. Research your profession: You have to fully educate yourself about your career's existing state of affairs and environment. You must understand your profession's intricacies and study the habits and practices of successful people within your area. You must be a lifelong student. To walk the walk, you must be able to talk the talk.
3. Set a schedule: Desmond Tutu once said, "There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time." Do not rush the process. Take your time and be patient. A schedule helps keep you on task. Create milestones and deadlines and stick to them (even if you have to stay up all night.)
4. Celebrate: Celebrate your accomplishments and pat yourself on the back. I often pat myself on the back and say, "Good job, girl! You are amazing!" You do not have to wait for validation from other people. The only validation, praise, or good job you need is from you.
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