Six young professionals demonstrate excellence in the water treatment industry
Now it in its fifth year, WQP’s Young Professionals program honors the best and the brightest rising stars in the water treatment industry. The six individuals profiled here were chosen by the WQP editorial staff for their demonstrated initiative and innovation, all before the age of 40.
Commercial Engineering Manager
Professional Certifications: Engineer in training
Education: Bachelor of Engineering in bioresource engineering from McGill in 2010, and Master of Engineering in environmental engineering from Dalhousie in 2016.
Why water?: “I kind of stumbled into it while I was in high school and wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve had varied exposure to the water industry from wastewater treatment to water treatment and rainwater treatment. This varied exposure has given me a real passion and awareness of the different issues that the water industry faces.”
Past life: In high school, Gamble was a farmhand at a local farm and also worked on the production line of an applesauce plant.
- Presenter at CIPHEX 2018 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Performed commissioning on the first potable water dispensing unit in Newfoundland, Canada
- Helped launch and develop five products within an 18-month period
Goals: Gamble wants to keep up with the fast-moving water industry and advocate for the latest technology, while making this technology feasible for public use.
Greatest influence: Personally, Gamble cites his parents “for instilling the value of hard work and being humble” and his wife “for instilling the ambition to push the boundaries.” Professionally, his early supervisor Hettie Sacre taught him the importance of being an educator when discussing water treatment and emphasized the importance of detailed recordkeeping.
Out of the office: Gamble’s biggest hobbies are competitive curling and golf. “Two young kids, 4 and almost 2 years old, eat up a lot of the extra time.”
Surprising fact: Gamble ran a marathon in less than two hours. “I was really fast for the first 2/3. Let’s not talk about the last 1/3.”
Hidden talent: Although people he grew up with might know this, others might not know Gamble is fluent in French.
Giving back: “I have coached curling in many curling rinks across Canada, including Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada. I’ve also been on the board of the Nova Scotia Curling Assn. in a volunteer capacity.”
Lessons learned: “You’re never the smartest person in the room. Someone always has some past experiences, knowledge or point of view that will be valuable in helping determine the best way forward in any project.”
Tabor Water Solutions
Education: Bachelor’s in political science and pre-law with a minor in communication from the University of Oklahoma.
Past life: Before starting his company, Tabor held several roles in the nonprofit sector.
Professional accomplishments: The accomplishment Tabor is most proud of “is what we have built at Tabor. I am reminded of how blessed I am each day to have folks who treat the company like it is their own. I could not have done it without them.”
Goals: Tabor strives to maintain a fun, fulfilling work environment for his employees. He also hopes to expand the business to other markets in Oklahoma.
Greatest influence: A former boss made the greatest impact on Tabor, carrying herself with poise in good times and bad. “When the business was struggling, numbers were down, and layoffs imminent, she was the calming influence that would pull us out of the hole. She also taught me to have thick skin (which is invaluable as a business owner) and to reserve judgment when people are unpleasant towards you.”
Out of the office: Outdoor time is important to Tabor, who enjoys it most with his wife and two golden retrievers. He enjoys camping, boating, climbing, backpacking and bike riding with friends and family.
Surprising fact: Tabor ran the Boston Marathon with his stepfather the year after the bombing. Also, the trucks at Tabor Water Solutions are named after his nieces and nephews, and even have photos of them on the back.
Hidden talent: “I am very efficient at catching grapes, hot tamales, etc., in my mouth from long distances.”
Giving back: In the summer, Tabor is a white water rafting instructor in Oklahoma City. He recently served as an ambassador for a local chamber and has served on multiple planning committees for community organizations. He also attends city council meetings and hopes to run someday.
Sinafekesh Girma Wolde
Cologne University of Applied
Sciences, Institute for Technology and Resources Management in
the Tropics and Subtropics
Why water?: Growing up in Ethiopia, Wolde has seen firsthand the struggle some people go through to obtain clean drinking water. In these areas, women often are the ones in charge of collecting water for their families. “All these reasons influenced me to work in the water industry and help the people living in developing countries to get clean drinking water and, ease the burden on women as much as I can.”
Past life: As a university student, Wolde volunteered in a community development project in the Nairobi slum of Mukuru Kayaba. She was a project manager for the renovation of a school and also taught science.
Professional accomplishments: Wolde considers her first two job experiences as accomplishments. Her first job involved managing construction of rainwater harvesting systems in dry areas of Kenya. The systems provided free, clean drinking water to communities with unreliable water supplies. Her second job was at an Ethiopian camp for South Sudanese refugees where she was responsible for supervising construction of water, sanitation and hygiene systems, helping to improve health and reduce open defecation.
Goals: Wolde would like to combine her studies in integrated water resource management with her previous work experience to contribute to the achievement of Africa’s sustainable development goals.
Greatest influence: Her parents, Lemlem Abrham and Girma Wolde, are her greatest influences. “Since childhood, my father [taught] me to be self independent and follow my dream in the right way, no matter how hard it gets. Despite losing my dad at a young age, my mom remained to be the voice, support and confidence I needed every time the people around me told me I can’t do it.”
Out of the office: In her free time, Wolde enjoys reading, taking long walks, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family.
Surprising fact: Because of her short stature, Wolde said many people are surprised to learn that she has a degree in civil engineering. She has worked in a slum and a refugee camp, often as the only woman. “The common question I get is, ‘Are you sure you have a degree in civil engineering? You are so small! How did you graduate?’ I always laugh and say, ‘Yes, I did it like everybody else.’”
Hidden talent: Her friends tell her she is a good listener and gives good advice when people need help.
AdEdge Water Technologies
Education: Undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology
Why water?: With a lifelong interest in the STEM field, Hassan started seriously considering a career in engineering when she was in high school. “I knew I wanted to pursue a career that was forward thinking with a focus on improving not just the quality of lives but the environment. Similar to how a doctor saves a patient lives, environmental engineers save lives by providing clean water and air and through implementation of sustainable practices.”
- Promoted to project manager early in her career
- Manages an average of 20 to 25 projects annually, many with a revenue of more than $1 million
- Attended and presented at conferences, including the Georgia Rural Water Assn., American Water Works Assn., and operator workshops
- Currently serving her third term on the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals board of directors
Lessons learned: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stand up for myself and maintain integrity when faced with challenging situations. As a project manager, I work with different industry people and with various personality types. Over the years I have learned how to work together as a team towards a favorable outcome.”
Goals: Hassan hopes to build her experience to join a nonprofit as a direct or manager overseeing other engineers.
Greatest influences: Personally, Hassan appreciates her family and their support. Professionally, she admires Eleanor Allen, CEO of Water For People, whom she met when she attended Georgia Tech. “Not only are we aligned in our value and passion for providing global access to clean water, but I am empowered by her ability to overcome challenges in both her personal life as a working mother and career as being a woman in a male-dominated industry.”
Out of office: Hassan enjoys visiting art and history museums, exploring new restaurants, and baking for stress relief.
Surprising fact: Hassan once considered a career in dentistry.
Hidden talent: “I love to bake! Recently, I have learned how to make traditional Indian and Bengali sweets from my mother. My favorite items to bake include cheesecake and baklava.”
Giving back: As part of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals board of directors, Hassan helps organize and lead professional development events and workshops for young professionals in Gwinnett County, Ga.
Technical Sales Engineer
AdEdge Water Technologies
Education: Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering
Why water?: “Doing meaningful work that leaves a positive impact on the world drives me. The water industry is a perfect fit!”
Past life: Before joining the water industry, Butel worked as a mechanical engineer designing and building prototypes of prosthetic devices and performing tests. He also worked at a seatbelt manufacturing company, leading the engineering team in new product development. “And yes, I even did some crash test dummy testing!”
- Inventor on two patents for prosthetic devices
- Inventor on one patent for weight-lifting support device made out of seatbelt components and webbing
- Part of the team that designed a water treatment system for water kiosks in developing countries
- Won a contract for a 2,750-gal-per-minute manganese and arsenic treatment system, the largest system contract he personally has been involved with at AdEdge
- Successfully managed and closed 40 projects in 2018, totaling more than $7 million in sales
- Former advisory board member for Rocktown Youth Mentoring
- Founding board member of OKC Good
Goals: “One thing I value about my profession and the water industry is the opportunity to grow in a number of different directions as technologies progress. I’m excited to be a part of the next generation of water professionals and helping to lead the way. Above all, I aspire to lead a team of people, loving them and serving them so they feel empowered and valued.”
Lessons learned: The biggest lesson Butel has learned is that success is a team effort. “It’s vital to empower those around, give up control, trust them to execute, and recognize that success doesn’t all depend on you.”
Greatest influence: Butel cites his parents, pastors, bosses “and other adults with valuable wisdom gleaned through years of experience” as the biggest mentors in his life.
Out of the office: Butel and his wife enjoy traveling, attending concerts, trying new restaurants, drinking good coffee, and acting as door holders at their church.
Surprising fact: Butel is Canadian, and also lived in Muscat, Oman, from ages 8 to 16. “I’m so thankful my parents were adventurous and moved our family there. The exposure to a diversity of cultures, religions, and people groups during such formative years of my life was incredible.”
Giving back: An active member of his local church, Butel serves as a fifth grade boys leader for the Passion Kids program and teaches a large group. He also is a core team leader for LOVE ATLANTA, “a movement that exists to inspire and mobilize people towards a lifestyle of service, orchestrating a week of service in the city every summer.”
ABC Water (602abcWATER)
Why water?: Mathews’ wife’s family lived in the Maryvale, Ariz., area when toxic chemicals led to a high rates of cancer and leukemia among residents. Seeing the government’s slow response to the issue inspired him to start his own business to provide affordable water treatment to families.
Professional accomplishments: Purchasing Protec Water Services, a Phoenix-based service company, and starting and growing ABC Water and the ecommerce company 602abcWATER are among Mathews’ greatest accomplishments.
Lessons learned: In 2008, Mathews worked for a distributor and learned the ins and outs of systems and products. “It was crazy to see the ploys to manipulate pricing. The price spectrum literally ranges from hundreds to $10,000. In reality, there’s not much difference between [the systems]. It was then I realized the reality of an industry prone to take advantage of the innocent consumer.”
Goals: Mathews strives to offer affordable devices and provide his customers with the education and support they need to obtain clean, safe water.
Greatest influences: “Common city people” and “overpriced plumbers” have been Mathews’ biggest influences. He finds that the former rely too heavily on their municipality to provide clean water. The latter, he said, tend to take advantage of vulnerable people in order to sell them equipment and services they do not need.
Out of the office: Mathews’ hobbies involve “everything water, of course! My family and I love to spend time out at the lake whenever possible. I am an avid-drone pilot, and am training to get my helicopter pilot and private pilot license.”
Surprising fact: When it comes to business, Mathews considers himself a bit of a clairvoyant. “I am a visionary who has the ability to look into the future and create the business I want and see. In the water industry business, I am fortunate to understand the business from the perspective of both the consumer and wholesale, which helps us become conscientious of both service and quality.”
Hidden talent: “Finding solutions for water systems in non-permissive setups.”
Giving back: Mathews and his team have donated more than $50,000 in water treatment systems to their community, including a commercial reverse osmosis system to a fire station in his hometown.