They are impatient CEOs and ambitious problem-solvers, but also generous mentors, deep-thinking visionaries and committed social activists—with the right mix of talent, experience, foresight, drive and empathy to tackle construction’s persistent challenges and help lead it into a new era of technology transformation and business boom. 

The individuals selected by a panel of industry judges as ENR’s National Top 20 Under 40 for 2019 have enough industry experience to know what works and what doesn’t—and the idealism and energy to create change and make it stick.

ENR assembled young industry professionals for a whirlwind photo shoot around Manhattan

Some are changemakers by being visible in complex new roles with uncertain reward. Myesha McClendon was the first black female engineering manager at Milhouse Engineering & Construction, then launched its aviation practice, which has now completed more than 30 projects at Chicago’s three airports.

Starting as an intern at St. Louis contractor S.M. Wilson, Mark Cochran became its first chief operating officer—increasing profit by $5 million since 2016 and becoming a regionwide labor collective bargaining negotiator.

Some have also worked to insure a future pipeline, inspiring others on the job or through outside pro bono efforts. Parsons’ California manager Robert Davis mentors San Francisco teens in a summer program that showcases the city's environmental infrastructure and its career possibilities to urban high school students.

Thornton Tomasetti exec John Barry has designed off-Broadway building sets, including a rain-making pump system for one production.

In her role as a Brasfield & Gorrie vice president, Susan Stabler created and then led for five years its women’s networking group and other new diversity vehicles at the Alabama-based contractor.

In recognizing the Top 20, ENR this year also tasked them to become a think tank—offering ideas in four critical industry challenge areas: workforce growth and diversity, project delivery and productivity, sustainability and resilience, and infrastructure investment advocacy.

Click on the stories below to learn more about what the Top 20 think about the future.