October 24, 2011 | last updated May 16, 2012 4:33 pm

Engineering A Better Environment

Lisa Wilk

President and Owner, Capaccio Environmental Engineering Inc.,Marlborough

From Nomination Form: "Whether it is a collective endeavor at work, or an individual community project, Ms. Wilk makes every effort to dedicate her time and the company's time and resources to help people and the environment whenever possible."

Q: Who is your most influential role model, and why?

A: I have several different role models for traits that I admire. My grandmother is strong role model for perseverance and hard work, even in the face of obstacles, such as the Great Depression. A friend of mine, who recently survived brain cancer and a stroke during the operation to remove the tumor, is particularly inspirational in her courageous ability to successfully take on challenges that others deem insurmountable. For example, she went from being in a wheelchair to learning how to ride a bicycle again.

Additional qualities that I admire in others are a sense of humor, humbleness and a respect for others — Bob Capaccio, the recently retired founder of the firm, is a good role model for these aspects in addition to being a very intelligent and talented engineer.

Both of my brothers are also role models for relentlessly pursuing your dreams. My brother Sean Farrell is a successful internationally known artist, and my brother Tom Farrell and his wife own Coffee Haven, a successful coffee shop in Holliston. We have our parents to thank for helping us believe in ourselves.

Q: Why are you good at what you do?

A: Overall, I have a positive outlook and a strong belief in the attainability of a successful outcome. I am passionately engaged in the work that I do, and continually inspired to help industry and the environment prosper. It is truly rewarding to see our clients succeed both in the environmental arena and in business performance.

I work hard toward achieving that vision. A significant reason for my success is that I have had great teachers and role models. I have also learned from our clients and fellow employees. I'm very fortunate to have a fantastic team of extremely talented staff here at Capaccio Environmental Engineering.

I like challenges and am motivated to pursue challenging objectives. I recently joined Vistage International to continue to push myself to top-level performance as a CEO. I meet regularly with a local peer group of advisors who help me focus on important aspects of successfully growing my firm.

Q: How does your organization give back to the community and what role have you played in those efforts?

A: Our mission is to help industry and the environment prosper. We are committed to our community and the environment as demonstrated by the numerous activities in which we are engaged. Our firm is a founding member of the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership. We also sponsor the Assabet Valley River cleanup, and participate in cleanup events for the Charles River Watershed Association including an Earth Day Cleanup team. Additionally, the firm participates in the annual Run of the Charles Canoe race to raise funds for the Charles River Watershed Association — I am a member of the 10-person team of paddlers.

I also represent the firm in volunteering to mentor students and young professionals interested in pursuing environmental careers

I'm an active supporter of the Rails to Trails Conservancy program, dedicated to creating a nationwide network of bike trails from unused rail lines, including many in Massachusetts.

Q: When the stress level gets too high, what's your secret remedy?

A: I go for a bicycle ride. In addition to being an inherently enjoyable activity for me, bicycling helps energize me physically and mentally to face challenges. It also serves as a great metaphor for the road to success. Just as in life, it is often difficult to overcome the initial inertia when starting a ride but as momentum is gained, things start to flow and even become easier.

Another way that I deal with stress is to remember to think about the big picture, and focus on the steps to achieve the "big picture" objective. Most importantly, humor is the best way that I deal with stress: when you can laugh it changes your whole outlook.

Q: How have you tried to balance your career and your personal life? Give an example or two.

A: Work-life balance is an interesting concept as it sets up an automatic dichotomy between "work" and "life" when, in reality, work and life tend to flow together. Stepping outside of work gives me new insights into ways to address challenges at work and vice versa.

I'm also a bibliophile, and read all types of books including philosophy, history, biographies, business, and fiction. I participate in a Boston-area Bates College alumnae club with members from seven decades of graduates, which results in very interesting discussions. I enjoy looking at life from differing perspectives. Books and book group discussions allow me to do this.

Q: What's your primary motivator, or if there is one thing that makes you tick or ignites a passion within you, what is it?

A: I'm inspired when I see people and organizations reach new heights that they may not have thought possible. When I'm teaching or mentoring others, I love seeing a spark light up and then be carried even further by their own talents. It is very motivating to be surrounded by energized and talented people.


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