2021 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: Nicole Robinson Owens, MPM, CQM, Assistant Director, Project Delivery, Infrastructure, Houston Airport System (HAS)

Dec. 9, 2021

As Assistant Director, Project Delivery, Infrastructure, for the Houston Airport System, Nicole Owens and her team are responsible for successfully delivering over 100 Capital projects, totaling nearly $1 billion, on time, under budget, and with the level of quality that meets HAS standards to contribute to the success of the organization and the City of Houston at large.

“The management of projects heavily depends upon our Capital Improvement Plan, and execution based upon priorities for the airport system. At times, this can appear to be a moving target as it requires the ability to adjust and meet the demands of emergency repairs or unanticipated conditions, but we are strategic in our planning and preparation for this. It requires us to be forward thinking by reflecting on lessons learned, and work with and consider nearly every stakeholder within the airport system ranging from passengers to tenants as well as our internal stakeholders,” said Owens.

Owens’ construction management career was inspired by both her parents who managed construction firms in Chicago and mentored other small minority firms in achieving success. She started her own career in high school, with an internship in Chicago with the Cook County Government’s Capital Programming & Policy Department. After graduating college and gaining experience working with private contractors around Chicago’s transportation and municipal based projects, Owens moved to Jackson, Mississippi and served as Capital Program Manager for the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority – shaping her focus on aviation.

“I really enjoyed learning more about the program’s processes, including the intricacies required to work with the FAA for grant funding, to work with the city for approval and appropriations of funds. Airports have exponentially evolved to mini cities. They have become a major economic core and you've got anything and everything that offers comfort and convenience of service and amenities for passengers, but within the assets and properties of the airport environment,” Owens said.

Since that time, Owens was recruited by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) as Planner over 73 airports in Mississippi, both commercial and general aviation, and now utilizes her talents with the Houston Airport System. Owens initially led HAS’s new Sustainability program, working towards optimizing lowered emissions, energy efficiency and recycling. Since joining in 2019, her talents were quickly recognized where she was selected to lead the Job Order Contracting (JOC) and Remediation Services program, and then again promoted to Assistant Director overseeing Capital projects, including JOC Contractor repair services under delivery.

“It is an honor to work for HAS which has two 4-star Skytrax airports (IAH & HOU) that are amongst the World’s Top 100 as well as Ellington Field which is expanding into the commercial space industry. I joined HAS as a Senior Project Manager with a focus on Sustainability. I had no inclination that my path here would take me to new heights responsible for leading such a talented team of individuals in the time that it has. I aim to be an example to my team by showing compassion and commitment to our work plans and daily tasks. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead, and further inspired by working amongst some of the most talented executives in the industry. I love the business of airports, and all projects, large or small, mean something to me. In the time that I have been with HAS, how we responded to the turbulence in passenger traffic due to the pandemic was critical. We have shown resilience, and our ability to adapt and advance projects during this time has been my most gratifying professional accomplishment yet,” Owens said.

About the Author

Walker Jaroch | Editor

Contact: Walker Jaroch

Editor | AMT

[email protected]


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