ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Paving The Way, Spotlight on Principal, Nicole Watts, PE, CFM

01.25.23 by Kyle Haskett
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I couldn’t resist the word play there, but it falls woefully short because as our newest civil engineering principal, Nicole can do it all!

Nicole has over 23 years of experience in civil engineering and we are really excited to have her on board here at Wallace Design Collective. Nicole earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri, as well as being a Certified Floodplain Manager. 

Nicole joined Wallace in May of 2020. Quite an unfortunate time to join a company with such great culture because virtually everyone was working from home. Nevertheless, Nicole persisted and has supercharged our civil department in only a few years, far exceeding our expectations.

Nicole has been an incredible addition to our civil team and has been crushing it from day one. She brings experience in commercial, residential, industrial, and education where she excels in all phases of projects. Nicole is also a member of Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association, NAIOP, ASCE, and Bixby Historical Society. 

However, her value extends far beyond her technical expertise. For Nicole, her wildly successful career as a civil engineer comes down to one thing: relationships. Personal connections are what drives her, and her passion for making lives better shines through in everything she does. Which is why Wallace is thrilled and proud to welcome her into the Principal group.

I took some time recently to ask Nicole a few questions about herself. Read on and get to know Nicole through some reflections on her career, advice for young AEC professionals, goals for 2023, and more:

What motivates you? 

I’ve always been driven and an overachiever. In the past, climbing the ladder, getting farther in my career motivated me – I always wanted to be one of the top engineers in town that people sought to work with. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I always want to be the best. Now, my family motivates me. I want my husband to be proud of me and I want to show my two kids that it’s OK to reach for the stars – nothing is easy and you have to work hard for what you want – but if you find something that you love to do, don’t let anyone stop you for what you want to do and go after your dreams.

What do you consider to be your specialty or your favorite aspect of your career? 

Relationships. I care about my clients and their dreams and their goals become mine – and I take it to heart what they are trying to build and develop. I also have created strong relationships with many individuals at the municipalities that I work in; these relationships allow me to work through the development process as best as we can – providing the municipalities what they need but also helping our clients achieve their goals on the timeline they need. Working together as a team with the City and developers make things go so much smoother than when you’re always fighting. A lot of my clients become friends – you know them, their family – and when it’s more personal to you, you want to do your best.

Who is one mentor or inspiration who has helped you get to where you are? 

Andy Kinslow impacted my career greatly. Andy was a founding partner of KKT Architects and gave a young engineer the chance to start a civil department in his firm. Andy always trusted his team and told us, ‘Do what you think is best’. But the biggest impact Andy had on me was the soft skills. He encouraged me to get involved with local non-profits (allowed me to do this on company time), got me to lunches and functions that had nothing to do with the AEC industry and really taught me how to network and make real connections with people in all different paths of life and different industries. Business is all about relationships and Andy allowed me to grow and develop many relationships throughout the City of Tulsa which helps me to this day.

What advice would you give current AEC young professionals?

You need to work hard and put the time in to learn and grow in your young career. But you can also have a family and have a life ‘outside’ of the office. And get involved with something! It doesn’t have to be an AEC organization, it can be a local non-profit that is dear to your heart. But relationships that you develop when you are doing something you are passionate about carry throughout your career and you never know when someone can help you or you can help them. Life is all about relationships.

What are you most excited about in becoming a Principal?

I’m excited to be part of the growth that Wallace is experiencing now and look forward to being part of the conversation on how to continue to grow but keep the culture and the history that makes Wallace such an awesome company. I want to make it THE company engineers want to work at – the projects, the people, the culture – and that people enjoy what they do.

What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

I would say being named Principal is my greatest career accomplishment. But besides that, one of the highlights was being part of the design team that built my kids’ new school. The entire process was so much fun. My kids were part of some of the design meetings and they came to many OAC meetings. They were part of the groundbreaking and the beam signing. My son even convinced the school superintendent to get the kids involved in the design of the playgrounds – they formed a small committee and they went to many different schools trying out playground equipment – and then discussed what they liked and didn’t like. And on the first week of school the principal told my son’s entire class how his mom was part of the construction of their new building (I know he was mortified but hopefully a little proud too). It was really neat to help create something that greatly impacted my kids’ lives but also allowed them, through the process, to see a little glimpse of what I do in my job.

What goals do you have for 2023 and beyond?

My word for 2023 is GRACE. Grace for myself and grace toward others.

My professional goal this year is to start learning about my new role and position while still providing the design and care to my clients that they expect on their projects. 

My personal goal is to travel more 🙂 


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Kyle Haskett, PE


Kyle received both his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Master of Science in Civil Engineering-Structural Emphasis from the University of Oklahoma. He is…

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