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CEDARBURG - A challenge has never been something Minal Hahm feared.

Instead, the co-founder of M Squared Engineering in Cedarburg has a fearless approach to hurdles, and sees challenges as opportunities for success.

When architecture didn’t offer the variety she sought in a career, she opted for a career choice that isn’t as common for women.

“I got into civil engineering, and started doing work with stormwater management, which I find really interesting because what you’re doing all connects back to the Earth,” said Hahm, who co-founded the company with her husband, Matt. “It’s powerful how this work can really impact things that other people see and enjoy in the world around them.”

Her efforts with M Squared were recently recognized when the business received the Wisconsin Minority Business award at the Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development.

Presented by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the award recognizes businesses in the state that have displayed excellence in customer relations, employment, management, sales and product.

M Squared is one of seven businesses in the state to receive top honors highlighting achievements made by businesses owned by minorities, women and service-disabled veterans.

“I think one of the things I’m most proud of accomplishing is that we are a small business that’s well connected to the community, we are integrated into the fabric of our society here, but we also have this presence in the Midwest a lot of people aren’t aware of,” she said.

M Squared, which has offices in Wisconsin and Illinois, provides civil engineering services to public and private sectors, including water resource management and construction engineering.

It is also the only civilian firm trained and qualified to perform rail inspections for the U.S. Army.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the governor’s office as a viable and self-sustaining business,” said Hahm, who also serves as the treasurer for the Cedarburg Friends of Parks and Recreation. “Beyond that, being from a foreign country (came to the United States from India at age 10) and being a woman, I’ve learned what it takes to be successful in this industry.”

After more than 20 years in the business, Hahm said things aren’t as different in the male-dominated field as some would like to think.

“A lot of women who end up with a degree in engineering don’t end up practicing because of the way our culture is set up,” she said. “I’ve learned to be more aggressive and find ways to make sure my voice is heard.”

The company employs about a dozen people, the majority of whom are based in Cedarburg.

“Honestly it makes our job easier working with Minal and the whole team at M Squared,” said Amanda Zacharias, design group manager the Wisconsin division of Alfred Benesh and Co. “They’re very responsive to any requests we make, their work is exceptional, thorough and detailed, and they’re just really great people who are easy to work with.”

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