March 2024 – Meet Marc Leisenring, PE, Senior Principal Water Resources Engineer at Geosyntec Consultants in Portland, OR


PERSONAL

What is your educational background? I hold both a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resource Engineering and a Master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering.

What drew you to work in the environmental sector? It’s likely a combination of factors. My passion for the outdoors, the desire to contribute to society and the environment, and a general interest in engineering all played a role. Understanding how natural processes work and finding ways to harness them for our benefit—this intersection between civil engineering and environmental engineering resonated with me.

In a word, describe yourself. Grateful.

How do you balance your career and family? Finding balance between career and family was initially challenging when I had kids. At first, I struggled because I wasn’t accustomed to setting aside dedicated time for family. However, I reached a point where I prioritized family above all else. While keeping the work wheels turning, I surrounded myself with capable colleagues who could get things done. In a consulting firm, we function as a team, not in silos. Recognizing that we’re not solely responsible for everything allows us to rely on each other to deliver for our clients. If I have family commitments, I reach out to my colleagues, and vice versa. It’s akin to a family environment—just as we rely on each other at home, we do the same at work.


ON BUSINESS

What drew you to your company initially? I received a referral from one of my professors during my undergrad days. He spoke highly of Geosyntec, which piqued my interest. As I explored further, I realized that Geosyntec aligned perfectly with my career aspirations. Although my focus has shifted to stormwater management, back then, I sought a reputable, environmentally focused consulting firm. Geosyntec fit the bill beautifully.

What is the favorite part about working for Geosyntec? My favorite aspect of working at Geosyntec is the collegiality within the company. We have a strong sense of community, and there are incredibly smart individuals who readily share their knowledge. Whether it’s tapping into expertise quickly or advancing our personal understanding of specific topics, the generosity of spirit across the firm is palpable. Great people are naturally drawn to Geosyntec, creating a self-fulfilling positive environment.

How has your company helped you in your career development? Geosyntec has been instrumental in my career development. They provide me with the freedom to attend conferences, present at these events, and actively engage with professional organizations like ACWA, EWRI, and others. Additionally, they encouraged me to pursue my master’s degree, which I completed while still working at Geosyntec. This support has significantly contributed to my professional growth.


ON THE INDUSTRY

What has your involvement been with NEBC? My primary involvement with NEBC has centered around Managing Stormwater in Oregon and Washington conferences. Over the past decade, I’ve attended numerous NEBC events, particularly in the last three to five years. These conferences serve as a valuable resource for staying informed about industry trends and connecting with decision-makers. The diverse mix of participants—consultants, regulators, and industry professionals—creates a dynamic and enriching experience.

What is the best professional advice you’ve received? Understanding the drivers behind our work is crucial. As consultants, we must grasp our clients’ needs and the regulatory landscape. While current regulatory drivers often come into play—such as NPDES permit requirements —it’s essential to look beyond these. Consider new water quality standards and emerging contaminants that may soon be regulated. Even if regulatory affairs aren’t your primary interest, understanding these drivers is key. Successful problem-solving involves not only engineering solutions but also anticipating and addressing client needs.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates who want to work at your company or in the industry? My advice echoes the importance of understanding the project drivers and the needs of our clients. Whether on the industrial private side or the municipal side, it is critical that we understand the challenges of our clients and why they seek the services of a consultant, whether it is to meet regulatory or legal requirements, increase operational efficiencies, or improve the level of service provided to a community. Nobody wants their home flooded, and everybody wants to maximize return on investments.