Megan Gardo, Parking Analyst II, joined Walker Parking Consultants in 2007 and works out of our Philadelphia office. We welcome you to get to know more about Megan in this month’s Walker Headlights.
Q: Congratulations on your recent award from the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association! You were recognized as one of the Top Transportation Demand Management Professional under 40. Tell us about this experience.
A: The Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association is a local advocacy group focusing on developing sustainability in our region, specifically focusing on transportation Demand Management issues. Several members of my office nominated me for the award as a surprise. And it most definitely was a surprise!
The awards were presented to individuals with a variety of backgrounds throughout the region who are working to find creative solutions to improve our quality of life through engineering, planning, and marketing, as well as developing commuting alternatives. It was an honor to be included among individuals working so hard to guide the community towards a more sustainable future.
Q: This has already been a rewarding year for you, do you have any goals for the rest of 2016?
A: I don’t have any specific goals at this time. My overall plan is to continue to grow in the field and expand my skill set and experience. I hope to continue to work with multiple consultants throughout the company, both learning new concepts and providing assistance where I can in order to provide clients with the best possible recommendations.
Q: What brought you into the parking industry?
A: I graduated from Penn State in 2007, with a degree in actuarial science through the business college. After completing my internship, I knew I wanted to explore my options outside of my field of study. Parking, and Walker, kind of happened by accident. I interviewed with Greg Neiderer (a marathon interview of five hours, including a skills test!) and found the concept very interesting. Parking impacts everybody and I had never really thought about the science or art behind designing parking.
Q: What’s something unique that many people don’t know about you?
A: Every Tuesday, well almost every Tuesday, for the last nine years, I meet up with friends from grade school to drink coffee and catch up.
Q: If you could share a meal and conversation with any person, who would that be and why?
A: I don’t know if I could narrow it down to one person. Some days I’d say it would be my grandfather. I think I would have liked to know him as an adult and get to know him better. Other days I’d say my past self or future self, but on both occasions to remember to not sweat the small stuff. I think a dinner with J.K. Rowling would be an interesting meal. She overcame a dark period in her life to become a world famous author, billionaire, and philanthropist. I imagine she has a unique perspective on the world.
Q: You’re located in our Philadelphia office, what is your favorite part about living in Pennsylvania?
A: I don’t know if it counts, but my favorite thing about living in Pennsylvania is its proximity to the beach! Most Central Jersey shore points are only 1.5 hours from my house and make a great day trip or weekend visit.
Q: You have been a part of hundreds of projects here at Walker, can you pinpoint your favorite?
A: I have many favorite projects for one reason or another, but there are a few the stick out in my mind. I worked on a shared parking study for the Mohegan Sun Casino up in Connecticut. I learned a tremendous amount about shared parking on that project and got to stay at a beautiful hotel.
There was also a downtown parking study for a project in Iowa. The study area was fairly large, and required three teams of two to collect the data. After the survey was over, the group of us, mostly new to the company, would go to dinner and hang out. While several of them are no longer with the company, we still get together when proximity and time allow.
Q: What might we find you doing on a typical weekend?
A: I’m pretty boring, unfortunately. On a typical weekend, I’m probably doing the typical around the house chores, playing in the garden, working on my latest arts & crafts project, hanging around reading a book, getting together with friends, or visiting with my family. On a less typical weekend, I like to go on day trips to the beach, white water rafting, a trip to NY, or other adventures.
Q: Last month you celebrated nine years at Walker, what has been your best memory to date?
A: One of my best memories over the last nine years has to do with a project I can only refer to as the “Secured Government Facility.” I got to visit this very restricted campus, stand in the lobby where a scene from Argo was shot, and visit their super-secret museum and several other really cool artifacts. During one of my visits, the space shuttle Discovery was being transported to Washington Dulles Airport. The flight path took the craft directly over our heads at a very low altitude. It was just amazing. If only we were allowed to have cameras on campus!
Q: Do you have a favorite television show?
A: One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Gilmore Girls. It is one of those shows that I can turn on episode from any point in the series and just enjoy. I’m very excited for the revival on Netflix.
Q: What advice would you give a young professional interested in entering the parking industry?
A: First, I’d like to point out that I sort of jumped into the deep end when it came to parking. I didn’t study urban planning in college. I didn’t operate a parking garage before joining Walker. My sole experience with parking was as the end user. I could recognize when something wasn’t working, but I didn’t necessarily understand why or how to fix it. That all came later, which brings me to my first recommendation.
Look for opportunities to educate yourself on parking, attend seminars, join parking associations, apply for an internship, talk to professionals in the field, and find out where you would like to focus your interests. And be prepared to continue to learn. Parking is an evolving field, with new technology constantly changing how parking works.
Thank you, Megan!
If you’d like to get in touch with Megan, you can reach her HERE.