Stacy Thompson, an Environmental Specialist at Vulcan Materials Company, has found personal joy in serving others. “My job is to support our operations, and I view every employee at Vulcan as my customer,” she says. “The better I know the customer, the better I can provide assistance to them. And getting to know them is the fun part. We work hard at Vulcan, but we do it with a lot of laughter.” Immersed in a male-dominated field, Stacy spends most of her days in a hard hat, working towards a cleaner, safer planet, and other days advocating for and educating young women and children. We are delighted to introduce you to today’s FACE of Birmingham, Stacy Thompson!
Take us through your professional journey.
Science was always my favorite subject, and I never really considered that I would pursue a career outside of this field. I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science and a Master of Science degree in soil science from Auburn University. Being a graduate, teaching and working as a research assistant afforded me the opportunity to do hands-on field work (the closest I ever came to being the farm girl I wanted to be), operate heavy machinery (driving a tractor down highway 280 is terrifying!), run lab equipment, teach students, travel around the country, conduct research and more. Graduate school was where I figured out what I was made of.
Later, a friend alerted me to an open position with Vulcan Materials Company, and I was hired in 2003. Fourteen years later, I am still here! While my primary role has always been to provide environmental compliance support to our construction aggregates operations in the Southeast, Vulcan has afforded me the opportunity to contribute from coast to coast, across business lines and to multiple disciplines within the organization. Years of collaboration with our safety, health and human resources departments have given me an intense education on these aspects of our industry, and I have developed a passion for community relations as well.
Describe your typical day as an Environmental Specialist at Vulcan Materials Company.
There is no typical day with my job, and this is why I love it so much! One day I am conducting environmental training in a classroom full of quarry operators, and another day I am walking through a plant and conducting an inspection. You can find me at a quarry in the mountains of Northeast Alabama, and the next day I might be headed to New Orleans or Mobile to spend time at our sales yards. It is never boring!
What are your thoughts on the government regulations that you ensure Vulcan Materials complies with — the pros and cons?
I think it’s safe to say that everyone wants clean air, clean water and a clean earth. There is no business out there that doesn’t leave at least a small footprint on the environment in some way. If pollution weren’t an issue, the regulations wouldn’t exist in the first place. However, regulations are continually tightening, which subsequently makes them more challenging to comply with. Environmental controls can be very costly and environmental permits vary under federal, state and local regulatory agencies, which creates another challenge when you operate the same type of businesses in different cities and states. The upside to all of this is that Vulcan has a strong understanding of each of these permitting programs and a very positive relationship with the issuing agencies. Being a good steward of the environment, Vulcan is 100% committed to doing the right thing, which makes it so much easier to do my job effectively.
What is it like being a woman in a predominantly male-driven industry?
I have both worked and studied for my entire adult life in a predominantly male environment. It is all I know, and it is my normal. My communication style is direct and assertive, which seems to suit my work environment. And a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt either.
You are a passionate advocate for girls. Tell us a bit about your advocacy work for girls and why it is important to you.
Because of my personal story and raising daughters of my own, I have a special interest in the education and encouragement of girls. I love to share my enthusiasm for science and working in the field. I have been involved with the YWCA and Junior Achievement, teaching lessons on entrepreneurship and science in my children’s classrooms.
Vulcan is involved in the Partners in Education program with many schools in the communities where we operate, and I participate in a variety of activities at the schools. So I regularly speak on my role at Vulcan to students, ranging from elementary age to high school, during school tours at our quarry operations. My family is full of teachers, and even though I did not choose this as a profession, I think it’s in my blood.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people. The enthusiasm of others is contagious. Working with people who are truly passionate about what they do is very motivating.
What do you love most about Birmingham?
Whenever I have entertained friends or colleagues from all over the country, they are always so surprised by the beauty of our city, the green space, the fabulous local food, the friendliness of the people, the culture, the history and the fun downtown atmosphere and activities. These are all things I love about Birmingham. But mostly, I love it because it is home.
Any guilty pleasures?
Are they still guilty pleasures if you don’t feel guilty? I will break into song and dance in public at any time, especially if I get the added bonus of embarrassing my kids. I’m out there with my weirdness.
What is your best piece of advice?
It’s not about you. Accepting this is incredibly liberating. I used to worry endlessly what other people thought of me and would speculate that their words and actions had more to do with something I did or said than could ever possibly have been the case. I respect and value the opinions of others, but my confidence doesn’t come from others. That comes from within. Life is so much more fulfilling when you live to serve others.
Name three frivolous or lighthearted things you can’t live without.
Spotify, saltwater taffy and our cat, Magic, the coolest cat in the world!
Thank you, Stacy! Learn more about Vulcan Materials Company at vulcanmaterials.com.
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for today’s beautiful photography of Stacy at Vulcan Materials’ Dolcito Quarry in Tarrant, Alabama.