Jan Hilbi

Jan Hilbi

CFS, Laughing Moon Studios
Portland, OR


Mounya Elhilali
Priya Singha
Ying-Ja Chen
Sharon Kenny
Vanessa Li
Rebecca Goldberg
Shelley Stracener
Laureen Ervin
Sarah Sarnecki
Stacey Swisher Harnetty
Rachel Ziegler
Christine Frazier-Hollins



January 26, 2008   - Her job: CFS, Cheshire Learning/Laughing Moon Studios

Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am CFS of Cheshire Learning, a small, totally woman owned consulting firm specializing in turning challenged organizations into well run, profitable companies.
Why did you choose engineering?
Thanks to a life-long interest in science and a bit too much curiosity for my own good, engineering chose me.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
MBA - Claiformia Coast University Masters of Science, Project Management - City University
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
Business and project management coaching, consulting and training. Systems Engineering Process Engineering Business analysis Client relationship management
What do you like best about being an engineer?
The excitement of seeing ideas become reality. Helping make work easier and more effictive for others
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
the honor of being one of three authors to write New Paradigms for Process Automation which was recently presented at AE2000, Alliance Engineering Symposium in Paris, France. The Alliance Engineering Symposium has been gathering experts from 22 countries every year to promote the latest technical developments in telecommunications. The symposium provides a unique opportunity to evaluate innovations, discuss trends with leading specialists from around the world and recognize individual contributions. Helping challenged organizations become balanced, well run and effective.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
Throughout my career with the federal government I was the only female electrical engineering technician within a ten-state region and for seven years with AT&T the only female instructor teaching fiber optic transport system classes. On several occasions I was informed that "women didn't belong" in the technical or scientific ranks. Patience, perseverance and a solid knowledge base convinced even the most skeptical that women were capable of performing, and even excelling,
Please tell us a little about your family.
We now live in Portland, Oregon with three cats and a view of Mt. St. Helens.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
As a business and project management consultant and trainer, my primary objective is to improve how organizations function.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
Two people created the pathway into engineering; Harold Ramey, from Seattle, Washington, awakened my passion for chemistry, physics and deductive reasoning. He demonstrated the excitement and sheer pleasure of scientific discovery. Lastly, Walt Disney taught me the joy of creativity and the importance of letting the imagination run wild. Various assignments within AT&T bridged the two by giving me the opportunity to apply creative approaches to systems design. Applying the lessons learned on a global scale has kept the work both interesting and challenging. Systems Engineering is an environment where innovation, deductive reasoning, and a sense of humor are exercised daily. The nature of my work places me in constant contact with the client, the end users, and a very small, extraordinarily talented group of systems developers and web designers. Each gives me the opportunity to continuously grow.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
A degree in engineering opens many career doors. It provides a solid foundation upon which a wide variety of experiences may be had. The best engineers are creative, innovative, and broadly educated in both the humanities and sciences. This educational base lends itself to a more holistic approach to problem solving. Often it is assumed that technical solutions are the answer but without consideration for the human element, this approach will fail. Finally, find your passion and you will excel.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
On the personal side, travel, humor, and a good water balloon fight help to keep life in balance. I believe giving back to the community is critical and, as CFS (Chairman of Fun Stuff) for Laughing Moon Studios, have the opportunity to do so in a meaningful way.

Jan Hilbi is CFS of Laughing Moon Studios, a small, totally woman owned consulting firm specializing in turning challenged organizations into well run, profitable companies. Laughing Moon Studios finds the hidden potential in every organization and works to ensure that supporting behaviors are discussed and implemented. As part of the cultural change management process, she coaches, mentors and supports leaders by enhancing their strategic decision making capabilities while they gain the personal mastery needed to survive and thrive in chaotic times. 

Another aspect of Cheshire Learning/Laughing Moon Studios is education and training. As an adjunct faculty member with three universities, Jan teaches a variety of business, leadership and project management courses to graduate students. She also delivers an assortment of professional development seminars that target the business community. Her key clients includes the Army Corps of Engineers, Adidas, Mainlander Property Management, Gift Tree, Learning Tree International, WonderLabs, The Best of Oregon, and the Free Masons. 

For more than three decades Jan held a variety of federal government and corporate positions. While working with the Dept. of Defense (Navy) and the Dept. of Transportation (FAA), she was involved with electrical engineering. This led to fiber optics work with AT&T. Jan eventually became recognized as an expert in fiber optics transport systems with a primary focus on processor logic. Working with AT&T and Bell Labs, she managed web enabled process automation teams, assessed organizational effectiveness on a global scale, and coached domestic and international training organizations across multiple business disciplines. Her portfolio consisted of several international joint ventures and multi-country consortiums. Much of her work involves improving organizations through process improvement and organizational assessments. Inherent organizational improvements are change and implementation management issues. This is especially true when we consider the cross-cultural challenges present in all global ventures. Jan was also responsible for training and coaching staff, helping to ensure a smooth transition. In 2000, Jan co-authored the paper, New Paradigms in Process Automation, which was presented at the AE2000 Engineering Symposium in Paris, France. The paper focused on the critical importance of customer involvement as part of successful project management. In 2001, she was inducted into the National Association of Engineers, Women in Engineering Hall of Fame for her work in project management. 

Jan’s belief in continuous learning is apparent: she holds a Master’s of Science in Project Management (MSPM), an MBA and has done work towards her Ph.D. in Leadership and Organizational Change. Jan is also a Project Management Professional (PMP) and a certified Workplace Conflict Mediation coach and consultant. Her goal is to share knowledge and experience with others, and to learn through the exchange.


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