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Women's History Month

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Recognizing those who helped us get here!

Though I am a week or so overdue for the celebration of Women’s History Month, I need to post a big “thank you” to Shirley Morse Hamilton, co-founder of the civil engineering firm that has become Hamilton Consulting Engineers, Inc. today.
Shirley – or Mom – is Howard’s (and Bruce’s/Jan’s/Helen’s) mother, wife of Bob, allower-of-engineering-functions in her:
a) bathroom 
b) dining room 
during the first few years of business.  She was an accountant by education, which is a good match for an engineer who just liked to “do engineering”.

Howard and his mom in 1968

But another important and far-reaching accomplishment she had – way back before our computers were so available and powerful – was to track projects and make sure the firm got paid. Her strong accounting and business acumen helped create a successful firm.  
Mom also designed a Lotus 123 spreadsheet – remember Lotus, before there was Excel? – that tracked a project on ONE PAGE.  This was starting with hand-written, triplicate time records (ok – there were some issues with change, but we got there eventually!) with well-designed, linked spreadsheets.  It is BRILLIANT and we still use a version of this spreadsheet today because our fancy, new-fangled, efficient time-tracking program cannot boil all the myriad information it has into such a succinct, easy to read project status report.
And Shirley designed this tracking system after the age of 70, using newly acquired computer and spreadsheet skills that she expanded and improved upon until her death at the age of 93 (her personal finances in QuickBooks were up to date). 

Howard and his mom in 2007

Shirley’s work on the accounting side of this engineering business set the foundation for HCE to easily complete all the IDOT Statement of Experience and Financial Condition (SEFC) requirements over several decades, track hundreds of projects through the building boom of the early 2000s and have access to more than 65 years of the financial and project history of our firm.

Shirley & Bob, Christmas 2005 – just before Dad passed away

Kudos to a brilliant mind that complemented another brilliant mind!  Thank you for setting a business standard that we acknowledge every single day we work.

And a final shout-out to our team of Accounting/HR support staff that helped Mom and now me take care of business:  Christy, Miriam, Mary Beth!



Kristen R. Hamilton is the Chairman/CEO of Hamilton Consulting Engineers, Inc.


Afterword by Howard Hamilton

Mom's Successor

Howard and Kristen in 2008

Almost 36 years ago I was a young engineering student at the University of Illinois (U of I) who had just married another young U of I engineering student.  I recognized that she was brilliant and was confident that we would build a beautiful life together.  I never imagined that she would one-day become my boss and that her leadership, engineering approach toward EVERYTHING, and detailed business acumen would take Mom and Dad’s company to levels that were unimaginable to my parents in 1955.  The best decision of my life in 1985 is still the best decision of my life in 2021.  Kristen thank you for being you.