Name: Kathy Martin
Title: Director of City Engineering
Family: Married, two daughters
Education: Bob Jones High School, Auburn University
Background: Started at the City as project manager in the Engineering Division over 21 years ago. Appointed as Director of City Engineering in October 2012.
What You Didn’t Know: She was born in Vietnam and has been in the Huntsville area since 1978. Her father was a South Vietnamese Naval Officer and had been a POW after the war ended. Her parents brought their family and many other families to Malaysia when fleeing after the war and then chose to come directly to Huntsville, Alabama. She is able to understand the Vietnamese language but does not speak it well. She has been happily married to Christian for almost 20 years and has two daughters, Erin age 16 and Lauren age 12.
Martin On Leadership: “Learning from my father and mother, I know that anything is possible with hard work,” Martin said. When arriving in Huntsville in 1978, her parents had three young children and many challenges ahead; Martin’s father attended night school at Calhoun to get an associate’s degree while working many odd jobs. They were able to provide for each to graduate with engineering degrees from Auburn University. Her parents have since retired and are now enjoying their six grandchildren and long stays at the beach.
“My parents have taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and perseverance.” She describes perseverance as an overwhelming desire to succeed in all aspects of her life. Her background has taught her that anything is possible with determination, hard work and the desire to overcome challenges.
“As a leader, I’ve had to learn the need to prioritize important tasks and then be able to reprioritize or delegate in order to get things done more efficiently.” It is part of Martin’s job to provide others with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.
As a public servant in her job duties, she works with many types of people in the community daily. She sees the importance of recognizing different personalities when working with others. “Know what strengths and weaknesses exist in those around you. Making sure that others have an opportunity to succeed is a key part of being a good leader. And also recognizing that it may not be what is said – but how things are said that is often more important and to remain optimistic.”
She also recognizes the importance of teamwork and defines this as a combined effort for a common goal. “There needs to be a common goal for everyone to work together, even though many people are independently working on projects in our office.” She finds that people usually want to know what’s going on and how they can help to better understand the bigger picture. She encourages communication in the office and for others to attend or watch the City Council meetings as a way to stay involved.
Martin believes Mayor Battle’s leadership style is a good example of ways to keep everyone aware of the common goal. “He continues to provide a Friday update to City employees every week to share the Huntsville’s common vision. It provides everyone the opportunity to become engaged with our City.”
“In summary, my leadership style centers on perseverance with a strong focus on teamwork. To be a good leader, you need to surround yourself with good leaders. Therefore, always recognize the strengths in those around you and encourage all to succeed for a common goal.”
‘My views on leadership’ is a regular CityBlog series. Get to know a new City of Huntsville Department Head and their leadership style in this weekly series.