David Shaw, Balance’s president and CEO, received his bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Vermont in 1997. After his graduation, he worked in field research and mapping for a few years before joining Balance. His early work at Balance consisted of coordinating field equipment, implementing and managing streamflow gages, and conducting field monitoring programs. “I was the field guy,” he says. He often collected data for the project managers who then worked with others to create designs, decisions, and recommendations for clients. At a certain point, Shaw wanted to be more involved with these later analytical steps and problem-solving. He says he was unsatisfied by just providing data “without feeling like a part of the project team.” So, he decided to go back to school to study stream restoration design and environmental planning.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2005, he returned to Balance. He started designing restoration projects, working with others to develop construction documents, managing projects, and developing and marketing Balance’s Truckee office in the Sierra. He was finally part of the project team. Eventually, his technical experience, design training, and largely self-taught business development skills led him to his current role as president of the company.
Today, Shaw walks into the office after some morning exercise, often mountain biking or skiing, and spends his day meeting with staff and clients. He reviews progress, helps coordinate the direction of various projects, and meets with administrative staff to lead decision-making on company and personnel management issues. Although he has many titles at Balance, such as president, CEO, and principal geomorphologist, Shaw describes his role as someone who provides leadership through decision-making. He wants to guide Balance’s employees and next generation of leaders, helping them find the career path that best fits them, just as he did.