In February, Riley Bechtel stepped down as CEO of Bechtel (No. 1) after being diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson's disease. Bill Dudley, Bechtel's president, stepped in as the first non-family member to be CEO in the company's 116-year history.
ENR: Tell us about your background.
I have been with Bechtel for 33 years, living and working in Asia, Europe, Africa and the U.S. I was appointed head of Bechtel's oil-and-gas group in 2001, and that went pretty well, so I was named president in 2008.
Do you plan any changes at the firm?
Not at all. This transition didn't happen for market or strategic reasons but for health reasons. We had a detailed succession plan in place. We like to grow our own, rather than look outside the company for new leadership. So, when Riley fell ill, he thought it best to step back and allow others to run the day-to-day operations of the company.
How is Riley doing?
He is doing really well. He continues to be our chairman and is actively engaged in the company.
What are your immediate plans?
We plan to continue to grow organically and move into markets where we have expertise and can add value. The key is to target markets with long-term growth potential, not just whatever is available now.
What markets are you looking at?
We are already moving into offshore oil work. But now we are also looking at the water market, mostly large-scale programs such as dams and hydroelectric [but] not down to the municipal level. Water is going to be critical to the developing world for the foreseeable future.
Where do you see Bechtel heading in the future?
I see us continuing as a privately-owned, family-run company. Riley's son Brendan is now in charge of our oil-and-gas business, and I would be happy to see him take over in a few years.