Sandy Doyle-Ahern

photo of Sandy Doyle-Ahern

  • MEn in Environmental Science, Water Resources (1992)
  • President of EMH&T Engineers, Surveyors, Planners, Scientists
  • member of Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (IES) External Advisory Board

My Profession

"I went to Columbus to do my internship for the MEn degree and ended up working with a small business that resulted in a full-time job doing wetland delineations and permitting. EMH&T was a client of mine, and after staying on with the company I worked with initially, I ended up doing the environmental work while EMH&T was doing the engineering for many common clients. Eventually I went to EMH&T in 1997 to open the Environmental Division of the company and never left!

"My role now is completely different from when I started. EMH&T is a privately held firm that I run with another partner. I loved running the Environmental group but have also had the chance to do many other things since then and that grew my understanding of business, finances, and employee management to allow me eventually to become the first female owner of the firm and ultimately the first female president. I love the company and have enjoyed every step of the journey.

"The interdisciplinary nature of problem solving that I studied in IES is still something I use on a daily basis, whether it be with solving problems relating to workforce, community needs, or to our client's projects. That way of thinking becomes part of who you are, and I definitely learned the most about that at IES."

My Miami Experiences

"I was always interested in the environment, even as a young person spending time outdoors. A biology degree for me was a natural fit and I wanted to go on to do further study in environmental science.

"When I was in high school, I worked during the summers as an intern at Weston Solutions in West Chester, PA. I was able to do a lot of field work there, and when I got ready to apply to grad schools, a man I worked with there, Rick Ley, told me about the IES program at Miami University. I had never heard of Miami but was interested in considering it due to its interdisciplinary nature.

"I remember coming out to Miami for an interview, uncertain whether I wanted to attend because I was from the East Coast and wasn't sure it would be a good fit for me. But when I got to the school, I fell in love with the campus and the program and was so impressed with professor emeritus of geography Gene Willeke that I made my decision on the spot to accept and attend! Having been in a consulting environment during all my summer college breaks, I knew I wanted a program that would support that kind of work, and it couldn't have been better.

"Dr. Willeke in particular was very influential for me. He challenged me to be a better writer and honing that skill has served me very well in my career. I most enjoyed classroom discussions about various pertinent topics of the day and spending time with a variety of people who came from different backgrounds. I also loved the Tropical Ecosystems class I took over the summer in Costa Rica."

Advice to Students

"The best advice I can offer is this — work hard, be someone others can rely on, take care in what you produce because it represents you and if you do all those things, then take chances. No one ever grew beyond who they are today without taking risks, which will always present themselves in life. If you know your stuff and want to grow and learn, taking risks can lead to growing and learning in ways you could never predict.

"All those years ago as a kid playing in the woods, I would never have imagined I'd not only have the rewarding career I have but that I'd achieve roles I could not have known about. I am grateful for every turn I have taken and for the community I have become a part of, and that started with saying yes to the chances that came in my life."

[April 2019]