Patrice Graves

“I have a confession to make. I have super human powers, and I am also a member of a unique, yet common, secret society. If you aren’t already a member, you may be one soon; if you’re lucky.”

Patrice Graves, SVP, Human Resources

Does being “well” require super powers?

Hear it from an AECOM Super Hero Secret Society member.

How would you describe your typical day?

Quite frankly, it is on most days a grind; a life of constant demands on my time and attention. On bad days, it feels like a hopeless race ‒ a marathon that I am running ‒ with stiletto heels and spectators watching. But, on good days, it is tremendously rewarding. Those days I am, in fact, Wonder Woman.

What are your main challenges?

Being sandwiched between an elderly parent, young children and a demanding job is no small feat. We are sometimes called the sandwich generation because we are lodged uncomfortably between competing priorities—like peanut butter and jelly on a hastily made sandwich for my children. 

How do you manage your life/work responsibilities? 

I take time to breathe ‒ even if it’s only for 60 seconds ‒ when I can shut everyone and everything out. If you hear heavy breathing during a conference call with me, it isn’t some strange stalker. It is probably me, walking to Starbucks. It’s a great way to work off some stress and to re-caffeinate. I try to schedule few or no meetings on Fridays. I do my best to leave that day free from back-to-back meetings, so that I can think, strategize, and get things done.

How would you describe your life in one sentence?

Truth be told, I am the luckiest woman on earth.

How would your children describe you?

My children believe that I have super human powers. They think I know how to kill a wasp in the house ‒ even though I am thousands of miles away on business travel. They often text me while I am away to ask where to find their favorite socks or to let me know that they cracked their cell phone screen. They believe that I know intuitively the dates for their games and concerts at school. They assume I will be there to attend, no matter where I may be in the world. So far, they have been right. They think I have “back eyes”— which are eyes in the back of my head — and that I know when they are misbehaving in the back seat when I am driving. 

What advice can you give to those who are struggling with life’s many challenges?

Whatever your life may be, don’t take for granted the importance of taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. Block time on your schedule and protect it fiercely. Take time off and leave someone else in charge. Allow someone else the opportunity for exposure and growth. Let someone else walk in your shoes; really disconnect. You will come back stronger and more patient. You will be renewed and ready to face another day.

When you step away and reflect, you may also find that you too possess super human skills and capabilities. Your life may be different, but be very clear: you will face good days and bad days at AECOM. You will be a failure one day and experience great accomplishments the next.

Perhaps you don’t relate? None of this rings true to you? 

Patience, young grasshopper. Whatever challenges life presents you, you may one day be surprised to learn that you too have resilience — when you thought you couldn’t go on. 

Coming soon!