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ms Q+A

ms Q+A: Sandra Penczak

Maggie Kearns Francis

January 26, 2021

Sandra in 100 Words or Less

I have been with ms for eight years in an administrative position. I had a very crooked career path, never knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. I have made fudge, been a substitute teacher, a secretary, and a bookkeeper before I started working at ms. I have also been a wife, a stay-at-home mother, and a dog mom. The dogs are the easiest! I am from a small town in western New York and finally settled in the Pittsburgh area after living in Texas, South Korea, Greece, and Virginia.

The Speed Round

What was your first job?

Making fudge on a marble table at a coffee and fudge shop in San Antonio, Texas.


What is one item on your bucket list?

I have always been fascinated with, and would like to take, a ride in a hot air balloon.


Listener or talker?

Depends on who you ask! I can do both equally well.


If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be?

My mother


Least favorite food?

Oysters or fishy soups and chowders


Last thing you read?  

For entertainment – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For educating myself – Living with a Diabetic Dog by Amy Newton Thomas and Bruce Pea


If you could live one day over again, which would you pick?

September 11, 2012. I married my best friend, in my favorite place, on a gorgeous day.


Favorite restaurant?

The Melting Pot


What was your favorite class in school?

Bookkeeping and geometry


If you had an extra hour of time in each day, how would you use it?

I never seem to have enough time in the day to take care of myself. I would love to fit in a yoga class or go to a gym.


If you had your own talk show, who would be your first three guests?

Kid Rock, Betty White, and Tom Hanks


How do you stay active?

Walking three big dogs and dancing when no one is watching!


Who do you admire the most?

My husband. He sacrifices so much working long stressful days out of town so that his family, including his parents, can all live comfortably and need for nothing.


What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned while working at ms?

I’ve learned bridges can be fascinating, I enjoy a good archaeological dig report, and engineers CAN be fun!


If you weren’t working at ms, what would you be doing?

I would probably be working at another engineering firm or slapping up drywall and paint in a room that needs some love.


What would you go back and tell your 22 year old self?

If you are not happy, it’s okay to move along. Also, invest in a little company called Google.


What is your favorite way to give back to the community?

My community only has 1,500 people. I have found the best way to give back to my community is by being a responsible home owner and taking care of my home, keeping the yard neat, and supporting all small town activities and fundraisers.


You’ve got one day in Pittsburgh. What do you do?

Walking the Strip District, visiting the Heinz History Center, grabbing a bite to eat, and catching a show in the Cultural District.


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Spending time with my husband and three dogs, and working on renovations in our old Victorian home.


Any final words?

Life is too short to be serious all the time. If you can’t laugh at yourself, call me, I’ll laugh at you!