Ishita Rahman, PE

Water/Wastewater Master Planner

It’s important to invest time in the next generation because they’ll be the industry leaders in five, 10 and 15 years down the road. That’s why Water/Wastewater Master Planner Ishita Rahman, PE, in Pearland serves as the young professionals chair of the American Water Works Association-Texas Section.

And as the chair, she said she’s paying it forward like those who were there for her. She’s recently planned a seminar to help younger professionals sharpen their presentation skills, along with helping coordinate a creek cleanup – both events being really successful.

Ishita, who was born in Bangladesh, says her involvement in AWWA has also empowered her to meet new people, build leadership and organization skills.

“Being involved helped a lot with my communications skills that I end up using in day-to-day work,” she said. “When a new person starts in our group, I suggest getting involved (with local professional societies), making new friends and learning something new.”

How would you sum up what you do?

I help my clients serve their residents and customers now and help them plan for the future.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

I go to a lot of concerts. The most I’ve been to in a year is nine. I enjoy seeing the surprise on people’s face when I tell them I went to a Metallica concert. While I am not a metal fan, I enjoyed the show. I got into classic rock because of my husband, who’s a huge fan. When we started dating, some of his music tastes grew into me. Now I like the genre a lot because of the lyrics, music and the nostalgia.

How does Freese and Nichols compare to other firms where you are?

Freese and Nichols has a lot of intentional investment in their people and offers amazing opportunities for professional growth. It is evident to me from the way Freese and Nichols employees talk about their experience here. I also get a lot of interest from people who would like to work at FNI because they’ve heard those positive stories.

What drew you to engineering?

My family. My dad is an environmental engineer and has worked in Bangladesh for a municipality for 35 years. My brother is also a civil engineer. Growing up, I understood what engineers did, especially Dad, who worked in water/wastewater. His work made me appreciate the work municipalities do for their customers and the things that aren’t necessarily visible.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Right now, being able to solve problems and come up with solutions. Master planning involves looking at historical data, existing systems and finding solutions for the future. Going from spreadsheets and paper scans to maps that outline what our clients need to plan for near- and long-term in the future is really rewarding.

What’s your favorite part about working at Freese and Nichols?

I like the work I do, working with our clients, problem-solving and the growth opportunities at FNI. But none of these would be as good if I didn’t enjoy the people I work with – I really appreciate the people, the office culture, and occasional sweets and baked goods. In Pearland, when a new employee starts, Forouz Bavarian welcomes them with a waffle day and she’d even prepare fruit trays for toppings.

Volunteering with Freese and Nichols coworkers from left: Xi Zhao, Maggie Puckett, Nabeel Kahn, Elizabeth Byrd and Ishita Rahman

What’s your advice for young professionals trying to get into the industry?

I would repeat what many people have told me: the importance of networking and finding opportunities to meet others in the industry. And it’s important to talk to them and hear what they do in their roles to be able to make a decision about what you would like to achieve in your career.

Try to find opportunities to connect to people in the industry. Getting involved in local professional organizations is a great way of achieving this goal.

As I hear it every day at Freese and Nichols, it’s really important to ask questions. You not only gain information but also give people an insight into your thought process by asking the right questions.