Joining the Army and serving five tours of duty in Saudi Arabia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, changed Madison Penh’s life. The experience left him more mature, a proven leader and a Purple Heart recipient.
Penh, 37, is Process Associate I in Automation in Haskell’s Dallas Regional Operations Center, a role in which he develops PLC and HMI software as well as the electrical design for instrumentation, valves and motors. A Memphis, Tennessee, native, he lives in Frisco, Texas, with his wife of 18 years, Veasna, and their daughters, ages 16 and 12.
He joined Haskell in March, drawn by the company’s strong culture and core values of Team, Excellence, Service and Trust. Much like his time in the Army, he sees this as an opportunity to learn and grow his career.
“Here, it is about the people,” Penh said. “You are allowed to be yourself and express your ideas. You’re not a number. You’re part of a family.”
Penh joined the Army right out of high school in 2001. He said he had no real direction, and a friend who was already in the military helped him make the life-changing decision.
“I was nervous at first, and I wasn’t sure about it,” he said. “But my time in the military molded me into the person I am now.”
Penh served as a Construction Equipment Supervisor and reached the rank of staff sergeant before leaving the Army in 2009.
The climate in the Middle East left an impression on Penh. The hot and humid Memphis summers were no match for the heat he experienced in Afghanistan.
“It gets extremely hot and sometimes it can be extremely cold,” he said. “In the summer, when you have 30 to 50 pounds on your back, you suffer a bit. Your body adjusts to it after a while, but it’s not fun.”
While working as a Combat Engineer, Penh was a victim of a roadside improvised explosive device planted by the enemy. He was concussed and injured over his left eye. He downplays the injuries even though it took nearly half a year for him to recover.
“Thank God for my protective gear. It saved my life,” he said.
Returning to his unit kept him motivated.
“I survived this by thinking that I wanted to get back to my team, to my guys. I can’t leave my team,” he said. “The experience did teach me how to be strong and to appreciate life. Life is too short.”
Penh was a young father when he was injured. Veasna, of course, was frightened by his combat experience, and his family was the deciding factor in leaving the service.
“You can imagine what she was thinking. She was worried sick,” he said. “We talked over satellite phone, and I told her I was alive and not to worry about it. But part of the reason I got out was because of the stress it was putting on my wife.”
Penh recalls his service when he looks at the Purple Heart displayed in his home office. It reminds him of what he took away from the Army and how it readied him for a civilian career.
“I learned how to develop with people and learned lessons in leadership from the beginning to the end of my military career,” he said. “I learned how to work with people of different races and nationalities. I know about team success, and I brought that to Haskell.”
Haskell proudly employs veterans of the United States Armed Forces and currently has 76 team members who previously served our country. To commemorate Veterans Day, Haskell.com this week is spotlighting one of them daily. Additionally, Haskell annually presents each veteran on our team with a special thank you gift.
As Haskell grows rapidly across the United States to meet the needs of new and existing clients, veterans continue to play an ever-increasing role. Those who have served our nation understand mission, structure, results and accountability. They are a perfect fit with Haskell’s core values of Team, Excellence, Service and Trust.
Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,000 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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