February 20, 2023
Lederman Consults for Client, Climate, and Water Challenges
During his time in CEE, George Lederman (MS ‘15, PhD ‘16) had an unusual task—to go once a week to the train depot of Pittsburgh’s Light Rail line (the “T”). Lederman was researching if it was possible to monitor the health of the train tracks from the vibrations of the trolley cars. On his visits to the train depot, he became close with David Kramer of the Light Rail System and learned about the many challenges the Light Rail System faced, from operations to budgets—problems that were more pressing to them in the near term than monitoring the condition of the train tracks.
Lederman was focused at that time on his doctoral research of Structural Health Monitoring, with advisers Jacobo Bielak, Hae Young Noh, and Provost James Garrett, leaving him unable to provide additional support to the Light Rail System. But seeing their needs helped him to fine-tune his career aspirations.
“I didn’t want to solve just one problem. I wanted to work on all of my client’s most pressing needs. That was very appealing to me,” he says.
After earning his PhD, Lederman found a match for his skills and goals at McKinsey & Company. Starting as an associate and working his way up to an associate partner, he focused on analyzing problems for industrial companies and managed a team of data scientists and other consultants.
“One project I worked on involved using analytics to improve the efficiency of the copper mining process. We also used analytics to make power plants more efficient.” While his work with McKinsey started in Chicago, he transferred to Brussels, Belgium in 2021. One year later, he accepted a position with Aliaxis as the Head of Strategy.
Lederman was drawn to Aliaxis because it’s a family-owned global company with what he calls “a powerful purpose.” It works to solve the world’s water challenges and accelerate the transition to clean energy. Lederman adds, “Aliaxis is a pretty innovative company, working across topics in water & energy, from antimicrobial water tank linings to keep water fresh longer, to innovative hydrogen piping systems supporting the transition away from natural gas.”
“CEE is a mixture of quantitative analysis with implications for the real world. Civil Engineering is so ingrained in how I operate. I learned to always look at the data and ask, ‘what are the implications for society?’”
He mentions that Aliaxis is purpose driven, which connects Lederman back to his Civil Engineering and CEE roots. “CEE is a mixture of quantitative analysis with implications for the real world. Civil Engineering is so ingrained in how I operate. I learned to always look at the data and ask, ‘what are the implications for society?’”
In his role as Head of Strategy, in addition to crafting the overall Corporate Strategy, he serves as an in-house consultant, working with the business divisions of Aliaxis. “For example, if a division is thinking of entering a new market or launching a new product, we often work on a consulting study with them to assess the decision,” he adds.
This holistic strategy of client service harkens back to his experience with the Allegheny County Port Authority—allowing him to take on the “extra” challenges that he couldn’t accept when working on one specific project.
Today, he collaborates alongside other executive team members, creating future-planning strategy that aligns with Aliaxis’ purpose. He’s particularly interested in addressing climate change and the water challenges that come with it—from stormwater to drought solutions.
He’s also excited to note a recent connection back to CEE. During his time as a student, Lederman learned from Professor Mario Berges about the concept of leak detection in infrastructure networks. Aliaxis recently acquired a company that’s doing just that—placing acoustics in the sewer system of a major city and detecting leaks by listening for changes in sound.
“This is a very exciting time at Aliaxis, and so much of what we do connects directly back to what I learned at CMU.”