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Q&A: Talking with TAPPI’s Young Professional of the Year, Avery Wilson

We caught up with Jacobs Process Engineer Avery Wilson to talk about his TAPPI award, career in STEAM and what inspires him.

TAPPI, the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, recognizes aspiring young leaders with its annual The Young Professional of the Year Awards. The awards recognize the organization’s younger members for their leadership, community service and problem-solving contributions to scientific or engineering projects.

And this year, we’re proud that our own Process Engineer Avery Wilson has been named one of the TAPPI Young Professionals of the Year.

We caught up with Avery to talk about his TAPPI award, career in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and what inspires him.

What’s your favorite part of your role?

I enjoy the role I am in because it requires a strong balance of both complex problem solving and effective communication to provide client satisfaction. The projects we’re tasked to perform are not only challenging but evolving daily. Hearing the voice of satisfaction from our clients after presenting results make it worth while as we know we have provided a quality service so that they may, in part, provide a greater product or service for the community.

What motivate you to pursue a career in STEAM?

I had a natural affinity for math and science growing up, so the track started early. Eventually I realized a STEAM track would provide me with the knowledge and tools to really make a significant impact on the world through innovation. A career at Jacobs is a perfect marriage of the two, as I get to use the STEAM training to help clients move into a more sustainable and innovative position for the future.

Congratulations on being named as TAPPI’s Young Professional of the Year. How are you going to use the award to create a legacy?

Receiving the award from TAPPI is a great honor. However, I do not see it as the end of my path. Our lives are a complex journey with many paths, or decisions, that we get to make in the process. The YP of the Year award is a significant milestone in my journey and provides the affirmation that I am heading in the right direction. I plan to continue down this path so that I may hopefully make a lasting impact on the STEAM youth and pulp and paper industry, hopefully leaving behind a legacy of integrity and innovation when my professional career comes to an end.

What inspires you?

Though, I’d love to put some nice piece here about how technology and mathematical excellence inspires me, it would not be truth. I am inspired to serve people. I get the same satisfaction from helping someone at a grocery store as I would successfully executing a project for a client. It gives me personal satisfaction and purpose to know that, in some way, I have taken someone from one position and helped elevate them to a better position no matter how big or small the movement is. Jacobs allows me to do this professionally with the service we provide our clients and I am thankful for the opportunity, but it is ultimately something I strive to do in every facet of my life.

What is a typical day like in your role?

“Typical” is a very funny term in this industry, as no day is the same as the last. Ultimately, the day will begin with a brief review of our current progress, a discussion about challenges we are seeing, and then attacking said challenges. These projects are not performed in a day’s time, so it’s important to remember each day is about simply making progress and finding yourself further down the road than the day before. Through teamwork and proactive discussion, our team can face any challenge on any given day.

If you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?

At this point, you’d most likely find me doing extensive homework until December 2021 for grad school. Should I find free time, you can most likely find me out in the sunshine or at your local brewery. Unless its the summer time, then I will find any excuse to end up on the lake or beach.

Editor’s Note: Avery is on track to receive an MBA from the University of South Carolina-Columbia later this year.

Most interesting career moment?

Travelling to a paper mill in Canada in January, by far. -20 degrees Farenheit really made me appreciate the Southeast U.S. I have called home for so many years.

Most proud career moment?

The proudest moment I have had thus far was my first heat and energy balance presentation to a mill management team. It was nerve wracking to say the least, but after two hours of deliberation and discussion, the client was pleased with the results and returned for repeat work. It was the highest level of responsibility I had felt up to that point and pushed me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to grow and preparing me for greater responsibility in the future.


Avery and Smoky at christmastime


People would be surprised to know that I….

Have a three- year- old pup that I found as a stray in the Smoky Mountains. The little guy hitched a ride with me back home and is two years late on rent at this time.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Jacobs family?

The breadth of opportunity and experiences that the company and its people allow me to see in such a short time. I can only imagine what the future holds.

Join #OurJacobs team

What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable.

We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.

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