In a Nov. 22 “governance agreement” between AECOM and its activist investor, Starboard Value LLP, the engineering giant has named three new outside board members recommended by the investment firm and says that Michael S. Burke, CEO since 2014 and chairman since 2015, will retire when a CEO successor is named.
AECOM will also hire a separate chairman.
Immediately joining as directors are industry veteran Robert G. Card, a management consultant who previously led Montreal design-build company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. as CEO for three years after prior top executives were ousted when an alleged contract bribery scheme surfaced; and Peter A. Feld, a Starboard executive. Joining on Dec. 16 is Jacqueline C. Hinman, former chairman, president and CEO of CH2M before its sale to Jacobs in 2017.
The firm says Burke is set to continue his roles until the CEO successor is named or by the firm annual meeting in March.
Both Hinman or Card “are likely candidates for the CEO position after the … internal and external search,” said Andrew Wittman, industry research analyst at investment firm R.W. Baird & Co. in a Nov. 22 research note, adding that, with its exit from “risky construction” and the nearly completed sale of its government services unit, “the company is at a point of major change.” AECOM says fiscal 2019 revenue now is $20.2 billion with its stock “trading near its all-time high.”
Gina McCarthy, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator under President Barack Obama, joins environmental advocacy giant Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as president and CEO on Jan. 6, the group announced last month. She led the agency from 2014 to 2017, and also served previously as an assistant administrator for air and radiation. McCarthy, now a professor of public health at Harvard University, was named last year as director of its new climate science and health center, C-CHANGE. NRDC board chair Alan Horn says she "has a 35-year track record of developing solutions that are grounded in sound science, the public interest and the rule of law." NRDC says it has 3 million members and assets of more than $400 million.
Pierre Shoiry, deputy chairman of Montreal-based global designer WSP, has agreed to give up his engineering license in a disciplinary pact last month with the provincial professional engineers' licensing board, related to lack of oversight of former employees involved in pre-2010 public-works contracting improprieties while he was CEO of WSP predecessor firm Genivar. He led Genivar’s purchase of WSP in 2012 and changed its name.
Shoiry himself “never participated in any action of bid rigging, bribery or illegal political contributions,” and was not criminally charged, a WSP spokeswoman says. “He was not aware of these acts at the time … but he personally accepts responsibility.”
She says WSP already has “repaid sums illegally received” in settling with affected municipalities and has beefed up internal ethics. Contract and ethics breaches on provincial public works by WSP and other firms. as well as by municipal officials and politicians, were later probed by a provincial commission.
The Syracuse University College of Engineering and Computer Science in Syracuse, N.Y., has named Karen Davis permanent assistant dean of its office of inclusive excellence, which was created in 2018 following release of a video by campus engineering fraternity Theta Tau with content deemed racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic and derogatory to those with disabilities.
TT was suspended, but there have been other bias incidents on campus, say news reports.
Davis, who was interim in the role, is also the engineering school’s former career services director.
Jacobs Engineering Group has elevate Bob Pragada and Kevin Berryman. chief operating officer and chief financial officer, respectively, to added roles as corporate co-presidents, as of Dec. 1. Pragada will manage global operations and continue to oversee Jacobs’ buildings, infrastructure and advanced facilities group along with Dawne Hickton, the unit executive vice president and COO. Berryman will lead Jacobs’ digital and information technology business while continuing its financial management.
The firm also announced Nov. 27 that it plans to add up to 2,400 new staff by 2021 to its existing 9,000-person U.K. workforce. It recently opened a new European headquarters in London, with roles on several multi-billion-dollar projects, including Crossrail and HS2 rail transportation jobs and the renovation of the Palace of Westminster. "Britain is a critical market for Jacobs," said Pragada. "This investment is an indication of our ongoing confidence in the U.K. economy and its long-term infrastructure plans."
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), which manages bus and rail operations in Philadelphia and suburbs, has named Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards as general manager, to start in January. In the role since 2015, she also is current chair of the Active Transportation Council for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and is a former SEPTA board member. Gov. Tom Wolf has nominated PennDOT Chief Operating Officer Yassmin Gramian as secretary; she will take over in an acting role on Dec. 6 while awaiting state Senate confirmation. Gramian, a P.E., is a former senior vice president at design firm WSP USA.
Sonia Finucane has joined engineer CDMSmith as Principal Environmental Scientist, following its Nov. 11 acquisition of Bioscope Environmental, a Perth, Australia-based environmental firm, of which she was founder and director. The firm specializes in environmental services for the mining sector, which is resurging in Australia, and also works for industrial and infrastructure clients, says CDMSmith. The U.S. parent has a 5,000-person global workforce in 125 offices, including five in Australia.T
GLY Construction, an employee-owned building contractor in Washington state, has elevated President Ted Herb to CEO. In that added role, he succeeds Jim Karambelas, who is retiring. Herb joined GLY in 1987 as a project engineer. The firm ranks at No. 172 on ENR's Top 400 Contractors list, with reported 2018 revenue of $516 million.
Toledo, Ohio-based design firm SSOE Group has elevated Executive Vice President Vincent DePofi to president and CEO, effective on Dec. 4. A 19-year firm veteran, he will succeed Bob Howell, who was in the role for five years and will retire after 38 years at the company. The firm ranks at No.116 on ENR's Top 500 Design Firms list, with $142 million in 2018 revenue, and is No. 5 on the list of top firms in the manufacturing sector. Click here to read an internal interview with DePofi related to his goals as CEO.
Fred Brune, former president and CEO of design firm Lockwood Greene, who led its global expansion and eventual purchase in 2003 by CH2M Hill, now CH2M, where he held multiple executive roles before retiring in 2014, died on Aug. 29 at age 68 in Jacksonville, Fla.
The cause of death was cancer, says obituary information ENR confirmed last month.
Brune led Lockwood Greene through previous ownership difficulties, including bankruptcy of a former parent, contractor J. A. Jones Inc. ENR reported that the design firm’s sale to CH2M followed a “whirlwind auction,” with the new parent eager to acquire the firm's significant private-sector engineering client base and expertise.
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