Mikhail Alert is pictured in front of the concept and idea wall in the work area of Haskell’s Design + Planning Collaborative. Colleagues appreciate that Alert has a broad knowledge base but also the ability to dig deep on topics.

April 14, 2022

Team Member Profile: Mikhail Alert’s Broad Skillset Keeps Expanding

With three college degrees and a drive to learn virtually every facet of facility delivery, the Design Associate is a perfect fit for Haskell's collaborative culture.

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Design Associate Mikhail Alert is known as Haskell’s Swiss Army knife because of his broad skillset, which includes planning, architecture and construction management. And he adds new skills every chance he gets.

Growing up in Guyana, Alert was the one who liked to experiment, to build things and tear them apart to see how they worked. His parents, both teachers, encouraged his curiosity.

The family moved to the U.S. in 1996 when Mikhail was 10. They settled in Boston, where he attended the prestigious Boston Latin School. He went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Andrews University, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Michigan. That’s also where he met Stacy, his wife of 10 years.

One of his projects at Andrews was to develop a master plan for downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. When he graduated, the job market for architects was tight, so he found a job as an urban planner for the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

The city paid employees to continue their education, and Alert took advantage, enrolling in the University of Denver. He earned a master’s degree in real estate and construction management.

At school, he kept hearing about something called “design-build,” and at a conference, he met Haskell Senior Design Manager Matt Dahlberg, who introduced him to the company’s history and focus as a pioneer in design-build project delivery.

Alert said he had another job opportunity, but he chose Haskell because of the culture.

“It’s a big company, but it has a familial feel to it,” he said. “It’s more laid-back.”

Alert is licensed by the American Institute of Certified Planners, and he was one of the first planners hired as Haskell has developed and launched its new Planning + Design Collaborative.

“That’s going to allow us to leverage Haskell’s expertise early so we can lead the conversation,” said Chris Flagg, Vice President and Infrastructure & Transportation AE Operations Principal.

Flagg worked with Alert on a 20-year vision plan for the Town of Orange Park, Florida. The process involved meetings with the public and stakeholders – right in the middle of the pandemic. Alert set up virtual meetings so that the data could be collected.

“He can do whatever we ask him,” Dahlberg said. “Not only does he have a vast horizontal knowledge base, but he likes to dig deep into each issue. He’ll invest the time to figure out what he doesn’t know.”

Alert also is working on his architect’s license.

“One of the cool things about working at Haskell is the variety of projects that you can work on that you wouldn’t get to work on in a regular architecture firm,” Alert said. “It aligns well with me and my personality. I get to dabble and learn different things.”

Alert’s experience with the mapping program, Geographic Information System (GIS) has proven invaluable as Haskell has project master-planned and developed two cruise port destinations for Carnival Cruise Line.

“Mikhail’s one of the few in the company who knows how to use that program,” said Larry Levis, Regional AE Principal in Haskell’s Miami office. “It’s used to geolocate components of the project.”

That involves translating data from the surveying team to the design team across different countries with different standards.

“That’s not easy,” Levis said. “His GIS mapping skills are brought to the forefront on these projects. He’s our GIS mapping liaison.”

Alert also uses 3-D modeling and rendering software, both still and animated, to give clients a virtual depiction of their projects.

“That’s usually done by separate people,” Levis said. “He’s got a planning background, and he can talk to mappers and surveyors, as well as designers and renderers. He bridges all those.”

One of Alert’s goals is to venture into construction management. He got a taste of that while working with Dahlberg on the new St. Johns Sheriff’s Office Emergency and Training Facility.

“He has an affinity for the build side,” Dahlberg said. “He got to watch it being built, and I think he really enjoyed it. He wants to see all sides of the business and how we serve clients from idea to execution.”

Alert said that working on that project was, indeed, one of his career highlights.

“I was itching to do that one because you watch stuff that you’ve been drawing come to fruition,” he said.

In addition to his professional skills, Alert is known for his love of good food and travel. His favorite dishes are Jamaican oxtail and Korean Kalbi with bread pudding and tres leches cake for dessert. His favorite places, so far, are Jordan, where he visited the ancient city of Petra, and swimming in the Dead Sea. His list of places to visit includes Korea and Africa for a safari.

“I love to travel the world,” he said. “I don’t consider it vacation unless I’m out of U.S.”

5 Questions with Mikhail Alert

What drew you to your career?

My curiosity about how things are put together, which inevitably led to my desire to work in the design and construction profession.

Where is your favorite travel destination, and why?

This is a tough one since I have many. But since it’s so close, the quality of the food will have to serve as the tiebreaker. As such, I will have to go with Hawaii. It also has some of the best snorkeling and diving I’ve ever seen.

Complete this sentence: I couldn’t make it through the week without …

Prayer

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you?

My parents. The generosity, compassion and determination that they have shown throughout my life – moving my sister and I from Guyana to the U.S. with the little they had to create a better life for us, as well as the sacrifices they made, which I’m only now beginning to fully quantify as an adult – are only some of the ways my parents have influenced me.

What does being a Haskell team member mean to you?

It is the constant pursuit of excellence while facilitating meaningful change, not only for our clients but for the community we reside in, through the manipulation of the built environment – design and construction.

Haskell is hiring! Learn more about joining an organization that offers a variety of projects and supports career advancement and expanding horizons.

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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