Harold C. Cobb, senior principal and senior vice president of operational excellence in Houston for Terracon Consultants Inc., does not enjoy talking about himself, but that’s not the case with his colleagues.

“I have always been in awe of Harold’s passion for people and his desire to see them succeed,” says Patrick Beecher, the Olathe, Kan.-based firm’s Houston office manager.

Todd E. Swoboda, its vice president and senior principal regional manager in Houston, says Cobb is always willing to hear ideas and comments from others and to build consensus.

“As a leader, Harold has an innate ability to connect with people at all levels and from all different backgrounds,” he says. “His relentless pursuit of excellence in all that he does motivates those he works with and leads them to be focused and motivated to provide excellent client service, both technical and practical.”

Cobb with Terracon President and CEO M. Gayle Packer

Cobb with Terracon President and CEO M. Gayle Packer at Engineers Week in 2019.
Photo courtesy Terracon

Tammy Bowley, Terracon administrative office manager, says she’s “blessed” to have worked with Cobb for nearly three decades. “Harold is a man of strong faith and moral character that has been demonstrated in his leadership here at Terracon,” she says.

Looking at the skyline of the nation’s third-largest city, one will also see Cobb’s fingerprints on key projects, from schools to a sports stadium. The executive’s impact on the growth of the city, and his firm, has led to his selection as ENR Texas and Louisiana Legacy Award winner for 2024.

Cobb served as Terracon senior project manager for Minute Maid Park, home field for the Houston Astros baseball team.

The firm provided construction materials, engineering and testing services for the 1-million-sq-ft, $250-million stadium, which includes a retractable roof and was completed in 2000.

“As a leader, Harold has an innate ability to connect with people at all levels.”
— Todd E. Swoboda, Vice President and Senior Regional Manager, Terracon

“I had the career-defining opportunity to work on this iconic project,” Cobb says. “I’ve worked in a similar role on hundreds of projects, but to date, this is the one I’m most proud of.”

For many of his better-known projects, including Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital North Campus, the Metronational Memorial Herman Tower and Phillips 66 headquarters, Cobb oversaw quality control and contractual agreements.

But before the executive ever picked up transits, theodolites or a folding ruler, he studied liberal arts and engineering at Texas A&M University in College Station, saying that he felt a pull toward the latter subject.

Cobb credits his interest in engineering to a former scout master who was a Texas Dept. of Transportation engineer. He eventually earned scouting’s highest rank of Eagle Scout. With his undergraduate degree, Cobb worked for Law Engineering in Florida and Georgia and then joined Terracon. At both firms, he realized that management was more to his liking, although he stresses that he enjoys the hands-on aspects of engineering. “Everyday is a new day, every project is a new project,” he says.

At Terracon, Cobb has served as department manager, office manager, senior principal, senior vice president, division manager and central operating group manager. As division manager, he was responsible for five offices in eastern Texas, two in Oklahoma and one in Little Rock, with a total of 316 employees.

As central operating group manager, Cobb led 46 Terracon offices in 11 states. The company currently ranks at No. 20 on the latest ENR Top 500 Design Firms list, reporting more than $1 billion in 2022 domestic and international revenue.

Harold C. Cobb

Cobb has been recognized for his community and industry contributions.
Photo courtesy Terracon

The executive’s responsibilities at the firm include building name recognition for its geothermal, environmental and materials engineering specialties.

He also is in charge of building work teams by developing strategies and training to motivate and engage co-workers. Cobb also trains through readings, group discussions, identification of leadership styles, developing Terracon-specific core competencies and one-on-one coaching to enhance strengths. Even with a hectic schedule, Cobb still has time to mentor next generation employees. The two pieces of advice he passes on: Bad news never gets better with time, and any experience you gain is going to be valuable.

Cobb also is recognized as a leader beyond the 6,000 Terracon employees in 175 locations nationwide. Engineering associations and community groups have praised his leadership and commitment to the profession and to the greater Houston area over his 35-year industry career.

He was cited early by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers Northwest Houston chapter and went on to become president of the group’s greater Houston chapter and a regional vice president. He currently serves on the Texas A&M Civil Engineering Advisory Council and is board chair of the Texas Engineering Foundation. Cobb was recognized as Houston Engineer of the Year in 2019, with the city and Harris County designating Feb. 22 of that year as “Harold Cobb, P.E., Day.” He also has been named a Fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers.

Says Cobb: “I have been so blessed in my career.”