Agnes Otto

Transportation Director

A strategic thinker with a remarkable ability to integrate technology into the engineering and construction of critical transportation infrastructure, Agnes Otto is implementing clean, smart, efficient solutions to keep people and the industry moving.

Agnes is hyperfocused on mentorship and professional development, helping to build career trajectories and advance the Transportation Group’s vision. In her role as transportation director, she lives out that passion while also managing client development, strategic direction and project execution. She has more than three decades of experience in engineering management, operations, business development, communications and applied technology. Prior to joining Burns & McDonnell, she led a multistate regional transportation practice, where she was responsible for growth and delivery of engineering and planning services. 

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

As the ninth of 14 children, my life has been shaped by a strong foundation for both collaboration and competition. It helped me learn early that to accomplish big things requires big talents, usually not found in just one person. Also, healthy, supportive competition led to great things while intense individual competition — though it might have led to short-term gains — was destructive to family and team growth.

How do you and your team make the world a better place?

I imagine that working in the built environment is one of the most rewarding career endeavors. Our team consistently works to provide safe, accessible and reliable infrastructure, from roads, bridges and rail to trails and traffic/bike/pedestrian amenities and protections. We complement our hardcore engineering and technical delivery with communication, planning and policy practice. We’re leading the way in supporting the establishment of state and municipal priorities that run the gamut of sustainability, equity, economic growth, safety and fiscal responsibility.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Get as much meaningful work experience in college as possible. In those days, I couldn't afford unpaid internships, which were largely what was offered in my field, and campus resources were not what they are today, so I took administrative jobs. It would pay for books and beer the next year but did not advance my development as much as a career-based assignment would have.

If you could pick up a new skill in an instant, what would it be?

I'd like to be a singer/songwriter, to extend the joy that I've received from live music.

What superpower would you choose and why?

I would want my superpower to be one that creates rain and/or is a mastery of water. For obvious reasons, this element is key to the planet's survival.