CREW NoVA New Member Spotlight: Hanif Drzal

December 16, 2019
Written by: CREW Northern Virginia

Hanif Drzal
Director of Operations
Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani, LLC (WBCM)

Describe your current position.

I am the Director of Operations, Virginia for Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani, LLC (WBCM). In this role, I develop strategic plans for generating and capturing new work, nurture client relationships, and manage the firm’s business development efforts in the Metropolitan Washington DC area. Drawing upon more than 20 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Engineer in both the private and public sectors, my goal is to provide our clients with innovative and sustainable solutions. Our office is strategically located in Reston - the heart of Northern Virginia near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station and we are excited to expand our footprint in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

I am currently serving as the Mid-Atlantic Chapter President of the Center for JOC Excellence (CJE), Program Chair for the American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington (ACEC/MW), and active in the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME). I am also a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia as well as a Certified Job Order Contracting Professional (CJP).

Describe your career history.
My career history really started in Chicago where I was very fortunate to be working under the leadership of Mr. Roni Mendez, a seasoned Structural Engineer who truly believed in and supported my passion. I love city skylines and high rises, and I was given the opportunity to work on a series of interesting projects including the New York Post, Stetson Tower, and Skybridge. After graduating with my master’s in Civil Engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was hired by Thornton-Tomasetti in Chicago. 

Married life took me to the Northern Virginia area in 2004 and I transferred to Thornton-Tomasetti’s DC office. I obtained my Professional Engineer license in 2005. Since then, I have worked for Alpha Corporation, McMullan & Associates, and taken 2-year hiatus to focus on family life. Re-entering the workforce, I spent more than five years working in the Building Design and Construction Division (BDCD) of the Fairfax County Government – Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES). As of November 2018, I took on a dramatically different role at WBCM and so far, I love it!

What attracted you to CREW NoVA?
The community atmosphere that provides a sense of belonging and helping each other by connecting with professionals within the industry.

Name a woman that inspires you and why.
At this point in my life, that would be Sheryl Sandberg. Reading her two books, Lean In and Option B, really helped me take off in a clear direction on what I wanted to do with my life during the past two years. That is: to live my life with a purpose. Through failures and curve balls in life, I realized that I am a strong woman, and I learned that I have the resilience and grit within me to accomplish the great things that life has to offer.

Tell us about your family.
My son, Logan, and I live in Reston, VA. He is the sunshine and bright star of my life. We enjoy volunteering together and mission trips. I enjoy cooking, baking, reading, and traveling with family and friends. My passion lies with building things: concrete and abstract. I enjoy connecting with people and building communities at home, at work, and at church.

Fun fact. 
My name is a masculine Middle Eastern name, and yet I am a female of Chinese heritage. Very often, I get mistaken for being a Middle Eastern male when I meet with people who do not know me and even receive mail addressed to Mr. Hanif Drzal. Ironically, I was a tomboy when I grew up, so I guess my name fits me.