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Introduction

Ben Siwinski led the establishment of a full-service planning and engineering office for VHB in Tampa in 2016. He serves as managing director for the office as well as a senior planner. VHB, a Watertown, Mass.-based engineering, planning and design firm, is working with the City of St. Petersburg on its Integrated Sustainability Action Plan, which played a key role in Bloomberg Philanthropies' $2.5 million award to the city to tackle climate change. VHB also is working with the city on its West Central Avenue Streetscape plan and is one of several companies involved in a redevelopment master plan for the Tropicana Field site. As managing director of the Tampa office, Siwinski leads a group of professionals to enhance the health of communities throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Years in St. Pete

Twenty years.

Organizations involved in

In addition to leadership positions in national and state aviation organizations, locally I’m a member of the St. Pete Chamber public policy committee and the St. Pete EDC.

What gets you out of bed every day?

What really gets me out of bed every day is to strategically lead a group of highly dedicated professionals in planning engineering. That and a 6 a.m. gym class every morning.

Why St. Pete?

St. Pete is a big enough city to offer arts and culture opportunities, but small enough to be connected to so many people in the community. It never feels like you are too far from anyone in the community.

What is one habit that you keep?

Unfortunately, I wake up very early to get a jump on the day and start planning out the day’s activities before anyone is in the office or awake themselves.

who are some people that influence you?

The four women in my life — my late mother, my wife and my two daughters are probably my biggest influencers for the challenges that they’ve overcome and how they’ve overcome them.

What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?

A book by Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink,” which focuses on decision-making with limited information. To me, it’s trusting your gut instinct

What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?

There are so many things I wish I knew three years ago, and too much to list here, but there’s one thing, a word of advice that our CEO Mike Carrragher gave me three years ago when I stepped into more of a leadership role in our company. That was the fact that everyone is looking at you in the office. Everyone sees your attitude and how you carry yourself. So be aware of that, be mindful of how you carry yourself because it reflects on other people.

What’s next?

Focusing on the health of our communities. That’s the most interesting thing to me, especially here in St. Pete, in our role in enhancing the health of this city through our planning and design, bike-ped safety, and sustainability and resiliency planning and a lot of other things.

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