For this issue of Careers in Focus, the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation features Michelle Walker, Vice President of Operations at SSC Underground, a trenchless technology and vacuum excavation company that delivers underground construction and consulting across the country. Walker has been with the company for 24 years, rising through the ranks and holding multiple positions within the organization prior to being promoted to Vice President of Finance & Administration in 2009. This year, she assumed her current position as Vice President of Operations. Michelle shares her professional journey, interests, and advice for others looking for a similar career in operations.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A: “I have been married to my husband for 24 years who is also employed at SSC Underground as a General Manager, and we have two children together. I enjoy being an active member in my church community and have served as a small group leader as well as a kindergarten teacher. In my free time, you can find me traveling, hiking, or baking.”
Q: What interested you in a career in Operations?
A: “I love to be involved – I want to be a part of making things happen. Operations lets me reach almost every area of the company from the work going on in the field, to accounting and finance, to HR and leadership. No two days are the same and it keeps me on my toes.”
Q: What do you enjoy most about your role and why?
A: “The people! I get to work in several different areas of the company, allowing me to meet and connect with various employees in other departments. The opportunity to help people succeed in their roles and watch them grow, develop, and thrive is extremely rewarding.”
Q: Can you describe your career path?
A: “I started in an administrative role at SSC Underground and went back to school for accounting. When I finished school, I worked my way up in the accounting department and was promoted to VP of Finance & Administration in 2009. I held that position for the last 13 years and was promoted to VP of Operations in 2022. Along the way, my areas of responsibility have included company strategy, succession, business development, technology integration, accounting/finance, human resources, workforce development, and more. In my current role, I work alongside company ownership to direct the core functions of the business on a daily basis.
Q: What advice do you have for people who may be interested in a similar career?
A: “Get involved in as many opportunities as possible! Gain first-hand experiences and pursue formal education. Role-specific credentials are a great way to obtain deep knowledge and understanding that can be applied immediately. Be hungry to learn, help, and serve others.”