Women in Security: Kathryn Bartunek, PMP

Industry consultant sees the great impact women are having in security
Monday, December 9, 2019

Although there have been many successful women who have helped and inspired her throughout her career, Kathryn Bartunek said that the first and most important role model was her mother, who founded her own network engineering, staffing and project implementation firm in 1989. 

“She stressed self-sufficiency, taught me management skills, emphasized the importance of understanding and satisfying the client’s needs, and was a role model for supporting the community and most importantly other women in business,” Bartunek explained. “As a Director for my family’s staffing and project implementation firm, Bartunek Group, I became familiar with the business processes, protocols, budgeting, program lifecycle management, and performance expectations of engineering, security and IT clients.”

In 2008, after training with the Peace Corps and based on connections she made through Bartunek Group, she joined Burns & MacDonnell, a major engineering and defense contractor headquartered in her home town of Kansas City, with work that spanned NERC-CIP, USACE, DoD and global clients. 

“I subsequently moved to New York and joined a smaller firm, DVS, jointly founded by one of the industry’s most respected leaders, Bob Ducibella,” she pointed out. “Among other things, I managed numerous World Trade Center projects and expanded into education, embassies and art museums before joining URS. Through acquisition, I transitioned to AECOM’s Transportation Business Line in 2014. The past five years at AECOM have given me tremendous opportunity.”

In addition to managing major infrastructure programs in NY & NJ and global safety and security accounts at AECOM, Bartunek serves as a Committee Member for the SIA New Product Showcase, is on the Corporate Leadership Council of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and launched an AECOM-led EWB Pilot Program. She also led AECOM team submissions for the Top 10 MTA Genius Challenge, the Top 50 Global Challenge and the 2018 and 2019 Blueprint for a Better World Grant, as well as being an AECOM Mentor for Network for Teaching Entrepreneurships, and being selected to the Elevate Class of 2019, AECOM’s Leadership Development Program for High Potentials.

Through it all, Bartunek said she is inspired by “the security industry’s common global mission to reduce the likelihood, severity and impact of human and manmade threats, while simultaneously collaborating and leveraging the latest technologies to build a smarter, more efficient, more productive and connected world.”

The challenge, she added, is to “maintain commitment to continual improvement, innovation and satisfying client needs in a timely manner with the highest quality results, which involves working cooperatively with others and requires being supportive of coworkers and, most importantly, always being ready to learn.”

Bartunek said that while there are challenges working in a male-dominated industry, she is excited to be a part of the positive changes that are going on today.

“When I started in security, it was unique to be a female focused on consulting and engineering,” she recalls. “Fortunately, I’ve seen significantly greater diversity and women achieving higher positions in recent years as technology continues to play a larger role within the industry.” 

She continued, “Every year I’ve become more aware of the impact women can have on other women in the workforce, and I’ve seen women at all levels face challenges that have historically been a part of our industry. I’m fortunate that AECOM is one of the leaders in appreciating the value of diversity. Another example of a diverse and inclusive workforce is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”

Bartunek is also seeing women who are rising to higher leadership positions within the security and engineering industries. “Hopefully in time, more women will reach top management,” she said. “I’ve noticed an increasing awareness of the value that women can bring. As more leadership positions become available, we need to make sure there are talented and experienced women to fill them. Continued emphasis throughout the industry and society in attracting and retaining women in STEM education and careers is an absolute necessity.”

When asked for advice for other women getting started in the industry, Bartunek said, “Lean in, speak up and give back. Make sure you find motivation in the industry’s core mission. Be authentic, embrace the fact that there is a lot to learn and every day will be different, but don’t be afraid to ask for help and be confident that there is a place for you.  Seek out new opportunities to learn and impact the industry.”

For more information, contact Kathryn at kathryn.bartunek@aecom.com or via LinkedIn.