Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Employee Spotlight
Acting Deputy Lam Nguyen welcomes a new age in transportation planning.

by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 02/2008

While he keeps the Planning Division, well, planning, Lam Nguyen enriches his experience.

Acting Planning Deputy Lam Nguyen is a man with a mission. That mission: to learn everything he can about Caltrans..

He began this quest exactly two years ago when he entered the Executive Development Program (EDP), an 18- to 24-month training assignment that prepares managers to compete for executive leadership positions.

At that time, Nguyen was working in Headquarters as Office Chief of Project Management in the Division of Engineering Services following a nearly 20-year career with Caltrans that began when he became a Junior Civil Engineer in Structure Construction with a newly-minted degree in civil engineering from California State University Sacramento.

After working for Structures in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County (Districts 4, 7 and 12), he moved to Sacramento in 1991 and has lived there ever since.

Nguyen’s first EDP assignment was with the Administrative Program in Headquarters. Next, he stepped in as Division Chief of Procurement and Contracts, serving for seven months, then three months in Traffic Operations followed by three months assisting Director Will Kempton’s Chief of Staff. Last June, he went to San Diego (District 11) to assist District Director Pedro Orso-Delgado. He thought that might be his last stop, but then District 7 offered him a new set of shoes to fill temporarily.

“What attracted me to Doug’s (District Director Doug Failing) offer was the unique challenges here,” Nguyen said. Those challenges include the fact that freeways in District 7 are landlocked, making congestion relief more difficult; the amount of goods movement through the area; employing new technology; and the number of partners we work with, he said.

Working in Planning, he is learning to take the long view. “Planning is not something where you see results every day, but it’s very exciting to be in the forefront of corridor management and regional cooperation,” he said. “Caltrans is now officially in the age of smart operations and mobility solutions, rather than just building.”

Nguyen will stay in District 7 until the Planning Deputy position is filled. Then he will be happy to return to Sacramento, having learned through this program that “what I really want to do is help people achieve what they want to achieve.”

As for a future in Planning back in Sacramento, all Nguyen knows now is that he likes what he’s seen so far. And, if you believe in such things, it might just be destiny. “My mentor (a component of the EDP) was Greg Albright, Caltrans Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Transportation.”