Katrin Leonard grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, and left home at the age of 16 to complete high school in Canada. After earning a Bachelor of Engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa and obtaining a green card to live and work in the United States, she considered relocating to San Francisco and New York City where she had family members and godparents. As a recent graduate with limited financial means she ultimately chose the affordability and opportunity of McAllen, Texas, where her uncle had settled. McAllen has been home ever since. “I grew up in a city of 16 million people. I love the McAllen community because it is small but not too small and it is a safe place to raise my family.”
McAllen has also been the setting of Katrin’s professional growth and leadership advancement with Raba Kistner, after a brief detour. As a young graduate engineer fresh out of school, Katrin interviewed with Raba Kistner. “Raba Kistner liked my resume but didn’t have an open position at the time,” she said. So she went to work for another firm in Harlingen. Luckily, the travel time from McAllen to Harlingen was grating on her and when Raba Kistner contacted her a year later she jumped on the opportunity to shorten her commute and join our company.
Katrin began her engineering career with field work, lab work and report writing, obtaining her Professional Engineer (PE) license in 2005. She has led our Geotechnical Engineering Service Line in the Valley for almost a decade before being recently promoted to Vice President of the Rio Grande Valley Operations, which includes operations in McAllen and Brownsville, and oversight of our Corpus Christi operations.
Katrin cites the McAllen Performing Arts Center as one of her most memorable projects but what she likes most about her job is the people that she works with. “Everyone takes their jobs seriously but jokes around together and watches out for each other,” she said.
“Katrin has been a loyal and valued employee of Raba Kistner for over 20 years and has demonstrated the technical expertise, project management acumen, and leadership skills necessary to take on the new challenge,” said Gabe Ornelas, Chief Operating Officer, Consultants.
8 Questions with Katrin Leonard
Before working at Raba Kistner, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
Summer job as a bartender at the resort south of Turkey
What book/movie did you read/watch last?
The last book I read was “the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins. My ultimate favorite book is “the Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho – a book that changed the way I look at the world at the age of 18.
What does leadership mean to you?
To be an exemplary person who is respected and liked by a group of people who agrees willingly to walk the same path with him/her. I have a French education, so don’t mind my quote: “A leader is a dealer of hope” – Napoleon Bonaparte.
What is your motto or personal mantra?
Don’t get upset about the things you can’t change.
What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I love baking and playing my guitar.
What characteristic do you most admire in others?
Optimism - without being preachy about it.
What super power would you like to have?
Hands down the power to stop time.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Spend time with my family!