Female Founders: Trailblazer Jennifer Lindbom Talks About The Founding of CAS Group & Its 10th Anniversary
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Lindbom, the founder and President of City and Sea Group (CAS Group). The firm provides professional consulting services in four key areas: technical advisory services, urban planning & engagement, coastal & marine engineering, and program management / construction management. Recently, Jennifer shared her thoughts on how CAS Group is unique to the industry, reflections on the company’s tenth anniversary, and what it’s like to be a female founder in a male dominated field.
What inspired you to start CAS Group?
I have always forged my own path, been open to new opportunities and ready to take on a challenge. Throughout my career, I have worked to engage people from all walks of life in shaping the future. That drive to make a difference has taken me far. I’ve trained local planners in the Philippines. I worked on a program of 250 workshops to support rebuilding NYC after 9/11. I was on the ground in Louisiana soon after the waters receded after Hurricane Katrina. I led the planning team for a new industrial city for a greenfield port in the Middle East.
Then, in 2010, I got a call to join a team to help Nashville plan its long-term recovery after the devastating Cumberland River flood. Starting CAS Group was the opportunity to combine my profession, work ethic, high standards, and passion to create an urban planning and engineering firm that can tackle challenging projects and some of the challenging issues of our time. Over the past ten years I have worked tirelessly to build a firm and a team that embraces the vision and values I believe are critical to building great projects, building strong relationships, and building a better future from coastlines to skylines.
What is your company’s mission?
CAS Group tailors its services to the unique requirements of every client, every project, every step of the way from concept to completion. We provide a rewarding environment for those motived to work on complex development, planning, design, and construction projects worldwide. Our team works collaboratively on strategic, practical, tactical, and technical solutions that build value. We strive to make positive impacts on our projects, our professions, and our communities.
What is your firm best known for?
We are known as a niche professional services firm built on agility and integrity able to handle small or large projects equally well. Often clients are surprised at the size of our firm in relation to the output and quality of work. We are both highly detailed-oriented and cognizant of the big picture. We are dedicated to maintaining the highest ethical, technical, and professional standards. CAS Group is known for treating our clients’ projects and resources as if they were our own. Nearly 90 percent of our business is repeat clientele and word of mouth referrals. Many of our clients have the resources to choose anyone, but they choose CAS Group.
Who or What Has Shaped Who You Are?
Developing plans for our tenth anniversary has been a time of reflection. I would remiss if I didn’t recognize the great mentors and role models I’ve had throughout my career who also took on big challenges and supported my professional aspirations. They were entrepreneurs, pioneers, and leaders who demonstrated that most anything is possible with vision and determination. At the risk of missing someone, I would like to thank — in alpha order — Manuel Alexander Aguilar, John Corliss, Karen Doll, Jonathon Goldstick, Jamie Greene, David Hopkins, Ahmed al Calily, Trent Lethco, Gianni Longo, Governor Rosette Lerias, Mitchell Moss, Ethel Sheffer, Linda Wheeler Reiss, and Bill Yaggy.
I must also recognize my amazing business partner and co-founder, SVP Majid Yavary. We had the pleasure to work side-by-side for the Abu Dhabi Ports Company in the years just prior to starting CAS Group. He worked on the implementation of a major greenfield port while I worked on the planning for the associated industrial zone. It was a collaboration that laid the foundation for creating CAS Group with distinct but related practice areas under one umbrella. I continue to be impressed by Majid’s combination of technical capabilities and commercial acumen. Our similar drive to excel and to make a difference has made the last decade an exciting and positive experience professionally and personally.
Why are you passionate about what you do?
As a child I was fiercely independent and always exploring. I’ve always loved an adventure and joined the Peace Corps where I lived in a remote part of the Philippines. It was such a rewarding experience and the governor of the province named a park after me! I’ve lived and worked in the UK, Philippines, Abu Dhabi, and Canada, and have traveled to more than 50 countries. Learning about cultures and cities has always been a passion and I am grateful that my career mirrors these passions. I’m shaped by the cities I visit, a desire for meeting new people, and a drive for new and exciting experiences.
It is extremely gratifying to work on a project and see successful results. What we do positively impacts communities and the people that live there whether it’s a new park or providing cleaner energy. CAS Group has the opportunity to help make the world a better place and effect future generations. Many of our projects can have a large impact by supporting sustainable job creation, strengthening community resilience, improving transportation, and enhancing quality of life. It’s the ability to drive positive change that fuels my passion.
CAS Group is a WBE. What is it is like to be a female founder in a male dominated field?
When I was young, I watched my parents transform themselves in midlife from the roles they were expected to fill in the 1950s to the people they were meant to be at heart. I was raised to follow my passion rather than fill a role. The direction was my choice; the expectation was to excel. I never consciously experienced barriers based on my gender…or perhaps I just ignored them. There is certainly no glass ceiling when you own the company.
My experience has been that if you bring expertise and value to a team, everyone at the table is equal. The field is opening up more each year and we are excited to see women getting more involved at all levels. The real challenge to bringing more women into the field is getting more girls into the career pipeline in math, science, and engineering. Of course, we need to resolve the imbalance in childcare and household duties, which can certainly be a challenge. CAS Group was born the same year as my first child and I’ve had to invest 100% of myself in both my family and my business.
Being certified as a small, woman-owned business has given us valuable opportunities to participate in various projects across the country. But it is not a free pass. As a female business owner in a male-dominated field, I am very proud that, first and foremost, our portfolio of projects has been built on the quality of our services and ability to deliver. Our reputation is our hallmark!