Premier Profile

Christina Barker of PGW

Living a Philosophy of Achievement and Service

Every day — sometimes multiple times per day — Christina Barker looks up from her desk and spies her personal philosophy: “Is what I am doing right now getting me closer to what I want to achieve?”

“If the answer is yes, I keep on going,” she says. “If the answer is no, I switch gears and get back on track. I write everything down; it makes my goals that much closer to being reality. Then, I make a plan and reevaluate when necessary.”

A graduate of Bucknell University and Drexel University with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management, Barker is a senior staff engineer with Philadelphia Gas Works, the nation’s largest municipally owned natural gas utility. Employing a computer prioritization program, observations from the field and good old-fashioned common sense born from the personal philosophy on her wall, she assists in identifying what natural gas mains throughout Philadelphia, Pa., need replacing. The company is responsible for replacing 25 miles of cast iron gas mains each year. Her efforts help reduce maintenance expenses, ensuring the safety and reliability of the PGW system and saving customers’ money.

After joining PGW in March 2008, Barker found success early on as the author of several technical documents and operating procedures for field personnel, capturing the institutional knowledge of more experienced colleagues as they began to retire. However, she says she is most proud of an interactive Web map she developed to enable the public to get a real-time glimpse of where field crews are working around the city.

Yet, professional success is often tempered by challenges.

“When you first start your career, it’s very easy to just have fun,” says the 27-year-old Philly native. “Then, at some point, you want to move up, and that means distinguishing yourself from the crowd. I overcome those challenges by continuing to gain as much knowledge in my field as possible, along with mentoring and networking.”

As a big part of her career enhancement plan, Barker obtained an engineer-in-training certification in May 2011, and is set to take the Professional Engineer exam. Both moves, she says, were endorsed by her colleagues and supervisors at PGW.

“It helps a great deal to know that my company supports my choice to go back to school and further my professional development,” Barker says.

Barker has been a member of NSBE since her freshman year at Bucknell.

“I really owe so much to NSBE. I was considering dropping engineering (as a major) until I went to the Anaheim convention in 2003,” she recalls. (But), the entire experience — from speakers to classes, to the new people I met — encouraged me to stay in the program and finish. I would say NSBE has had a profound impact on my life.”

Since 2002, Barker has served NSBE in leadership positions, including chapter treasurer, vice president and membership chair, in addition to serving on the board of directors of the Bucknell University Engineering Alumni Association. At PGW, she is a committee member with the Tech Association, a company affinity group developed to cultivate and retain engineers at PGW.

Her level of activity is testament to another personal philosophy: “Because I received so much support while in my curriculum, it was only right to give back in some way. Being involved in activities outside of work keep me whole and grounded.”

“It helps a great deal to know that my company supports my choice to go back to school and further my professional development.”