Women in Water | Cate Thompson

March 15, 2024
Cate Thompson with Advanced Drainage Systems discusses her water career, her current role and more.

March is Women’s History Month, and specifically, March 8 is International Women’s Day. To celebrate, Stormwater Solutions reached out to women in the water industry to reflect on their career paths, discuss critical issues facing the industry and share advice.   

In this Q&A, learn more about Cate Thompson, Florida regional engineer with Advanced Drainage Systems. 

SWS: Why did you follow a career in water?

Thompson: I have always been drawn to water and moved from New Jersey to Florida for college to be closer to it. While I started my engineering career in the geotechnical and structural engineering world, I found my way into the stormwater side of the industry, realized I could help protect all forms of water bodies and have never looked back.  

SWS: What is the best part of your current role? 

Thompson: In my current role, I assist in providing solutions that help collect, convey, treat and store stormwater runoff. What truly excites me is knowing that my contributions are instrumental in reshaping the landscape of stormwater management practices by driving the adoption of performance-based standards. 

SWS: What is the most important issue facing the industry and how can we address it? 

Thompson: The fast-paced specification “copy + paste” mentality, which hinders critical thinking and creativity within design is the most important issue facing the industry today. This can be addressed by ensuring succession plans are in place, which enable the transfer of institutional knowledge while also encouraging future leaders to ask, understand and validate that the “why” is still applicable.

SWS: What advice can you give to other women in the industry? 

Thompson: Never stop being curious and take advantage of as many learning opportunities as possible. While at conferences, I try to attend at least one session outside my current area of focus. Gaining the perspective of adjacent fields allows me to deepen my understanding of all the moving parts within the water industry. 

SWS: What piece of media (books, T.V. shows, movies, podcasts, etc.) has had the greatest impact on you in the past year? 

Thompson: Given the amount of travel involved in supporting Florida, I rely on audio content for learning. I often recommend the 'Hidden Brain' podcast to others. Being familiar with social science concepts like navigating diverse personalities, understanding biases, and practicing deep work has been instrumental in my personal and professional developmen

About the Author

Katie Johns

Katie Johns, editor-in-chief of Storm Water Solutions and Water Quality Products, graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Johns joined the Storm Water Solutions team in September 2019. Johns also helps plan the annual StormCon conference and co-hosts the Talking Under Water podcast. Prior to entering the B2B industry, she worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in Sarasota, Florida, and a magazine assistant editor in the Chicago suburbs. She can be reached at [email protected].