Keeping It Real with Diane Bookwalter

The Keeping it Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and leadership, straight from the trenches. Sometimes literally.

Name: Diane Bookwalter, PE – Electrical Department Head
Office: Pittsburgh, PA
Years at Allen & Shariff: 2.5 years


As Head of Electrical, where do you invest your energies in relation to your team and clients?
My job focuses on being sure that the electrical department is running smoothly and providing a quality product for our clients. I am responsible for overseeing projects and schedules, managing staff needs and questions, controlling the quality of drawings, and maintaining professional knowledge and sharing with my team.

I am also involved in project work and design along with the rest of my team. We are all hands-on in our department.

What is the most stunning way you’ve seen the industry change since you graduated? How is it most notably different than when you first started out in your career?
When I was in college, I actually still did hand drafting and used only AutoCAD. Since then, Revit has greatly replaced AutoCAD. We now draft in 3 dimensions on most projects and contractors are using our models for coordination. The computer drafting systems continue to get better and better. Graduates coming out of school continue to get more tech savy as well, changing with the software.

Have you ever met a Penn State grad that was only mildly enthusiastic about their alma mater? Explain.
Knowing that my family bleeds blue and white, these people can’t possibly exist. WE ARE…..

If someone asked you to describe your unique approach to problem solving, what would you say?
I am all about brainstorming. I throw out a bunch of ideas, good and bad, and then look over them to see what makes the most sense. I find this takes a lot less time in the long run than worrying about the correct solution from moment one.

What’s the #1 “rookie mistake” you see in those just starting out their career in your field? Explain.
Not back-checking your work or realizing that you will make mistakes. No one is perfect and everyone will make mistakes. It’s the people who recognize their mistakes, work to correct them, and do not make them again that become successful.

What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship?
Communication. Picking up the phone and talking to someone creates much more of a connection than email.

Do you have a personal hero?
My hero has always been Mr. Rogers. He was such a genuinely nice person in all aspects of life and I strive to be a similarly good person. I had the opportunity via friends at WQED to have lunch with him when I was 18. It was a great experience that I will never forget. He definitely left a lasting impression on how I would like to live my life and what I teach my kids.

If Allen & Shariff were a car, what kind of car would it be and why?
A minivan! We’re not ostentatious but we’re hard working, multi-talented, and always get the job done. Why did I select a minivan? – because I drive a Honda Odyssey!

What book(s) are on your nightstand right now?
People Magazine and Penn Stater Magazine (of course!). I used to love classic novels, but now I’m into quick, light-hearted reads.

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