KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 11, 2016) — A week after Burns & McDonnell Chairman and CEO Greg Graves announced he would retire at the end of 2016, he revealed to employee-owners today that Ray Kowalik would succeed him as CEO. Kowalik, who has spent his entire 29-year career with Burns & McDonnell, is responsible for the global firm’s 11 diverse business groups. In 2017, Kowalik will assume his new role and become Burns & McDonnell’s seventh CEO in the firm’s 118-year old history.
“Ray exudes leadership, is a fierce promoter of our employee-owned culture and is a master at embracing complex challenges and developing strategies to create innovative solutions,” says Graves, who has worked alongside Kowalik for the incoming CEO’s entire career.
“I had the opportunity to give Ray his first promotion to project manager not long after he joined the firm. He was immediately the one everyone wanted to lead their team to make a real difference. Now, I know Ray’s leadership and entrepreneurial approach will create new and exciting advancements for our firm, clients and communities.”
Kowalik is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in civil engineering. He spent nearly his entire career in Burns & McDonnell’s highly successful Energy Group, and served as its general manager for 11 years. Kowalik has been a driving force in building the group known for its innovative work with clients, particularly in the fields of air quality, new generation projects, and regulatory compliance. In addition, Kowalik was instrumental in developing relationships and leading teams for the firm’s engineer-procure-construct (EPC) project delivery method. Under his leadership, the group consistently won recognition for its excellence in the industry and for client satisfaction, including his team’s work on Kansas City Power & Light’s (KCP&L) Iatan 2 generation station, which Power magazine named Plant of the Year for its innovative energy plan.
In 2015, Kowalik transitioned from Energy to a newly created role: President of Global Practices. The leaders of the 11 business groups that once reported to the CEO are now guided by Kowalik’ s forward-thinking leadership that helped Burns & McDonnell sales reach a record $2.6 billion in 2015.
“Imagine being asked to serve as CEO of the same firm that offered you that first dream job right out of college. That’s my rare privilege with Burns & McDonnell that I don’t take lightly,” says Kowalik, who joined Burns & McDonnell in 1987, just a year after the birth of what some describe as the firm’s DNA: employee-ownership.
For Kowalik, the firm’s employee-owned culture is still the key to future growth.
“Our unique culture has helped make Burns & McDonnell the 15th best place to work in the country and win numerous awards for client satisfaction,” Kowalik says. “It’s allowing us to attract the brightest talent across the globe, and win the confidence of our clients. We are pioneering solutions for some of the biggest challenges our world is facing — like grid security, clean water, oil and gas, and improving our critical infrastructure — and we are embracing every moment of it.”
Kowalik will also drive the firm in growing its philanthropic efforts and continuing to be a leader in corporate citizenship. He chaired Burns & McDonnell’s Corporate Citizenship Committee, helping drive participation in a variety of charitable organizations. Kowalik is active in the United Way of Greater Kansas City, as a member of the Board of Trustees. Kowalik is also a board member for Outpacing Melanoma, The Missouri 100, and the University of Missouri Dean’s Engineering Advisory Council.
Kowalik grew up in the Kansas City metropolitan area and lives in Lee’s Summit with his wife, Jill. They have one daughter, Sabrina, who is a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
About Burns & McDonnell
Burns & McDonnell is a company made up of more than 5,300 engineers, architects, construction professionals, scientists, consultants and entrepreneurs with offices across the country and throughout the world. We strive to create amazing success for our clients and amazing careers for our employee-owners. Burns & McDonnell is 100 percent employee-owned and is proud to be No. 15 on Fortune’s 2015 List of 100 Best Companies to Work For.