President and CEO, Winzler & Kelly
Company address: 495 Tesconi Circle, Santa Rosa 95401
Staff: 95 in Santa Rosa, 310 companywide
Professional background: Civil engineer
What do you see as the essential role of a leader in the current environment? Be present. Face time with staff and clients is essential in this environment. People are fearful; they need to know the strategies for success. Frequent honest communication is required.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in your industry? Projects are becoming more complex; it takes a broad range of skills including good communication to move infrastructure projects forward in today’s world.
What advice would you give to young emerging leaders? Get involved in all of your communities, including your family community, your geographic community and your professional community.
What's the best advice for weathering today's economic environment? Stay focused on the business basics: marketing, cash flow and frugalness. It is “in” to be frugal, and if something or someone is not adding value to your business, you simply don’t need it or them.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years? Demands for our services will continue to increase as infrastructure across the nation continues to deteriorate and fail. The education system will not deliver enough engineers and scientists to fill the demand, and engineers will earn top salaries in their communities. (Note to parents: Send your children to engineering school!)
What is a decision you wish you hadn't made? What did you learn from it? Listening to a manager that said I didn’t understand their business model. Next time I hear that I will know to run for the door.
What is your most memorable business experience? There are many, and the best part is that we have new ones every day. The people here will never cease to amaze me with what they can do. The best is simply watching what we created in Santa Rosa expand across the west to 13 current locations.
What is your greatest business success? Having a knack for hiring great people
What was your toughest business decision? It wasn’t a decision; it was a duty to a friend. Giving the eulogy for my boss Jack Goble back in 2002 was the toughest thing I ever had to do.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you? I am the foosball king!
First job: Intern at Winzler & Kelly
Most admired businessperson outside the company: Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
Current reading: "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made us Human," by Richard Wrangham
Stress relievers: Restoring antique furniture, fishing and boating
Favorite activities outside work: Fishing and coaching youth basketball