Dallas-based Jacobs, one of the largest professional services companies in the world, has set its succession plan in place to ensure continued growth and prosperity and deliver on its vision for people, clients, communities, and shareholders.
The company said Friday that Bob Pragada, currently president and chief operating officer, will succeed Steve Demetriou as chief executive officer and join the Jacobs’ board of directors. Jacobs said in a statement that Demetriou will continue as executive chair of the board and that the changes are effective Jan. 24. That’s the date of Jacobs’ annual shareholder meeting.
“It has been the highlight of my career to lead Jacobs over these past seven years and work with our outstanding people to transform Jacobs’ portfolio, advance our culture and position the company for even higher levels of growth and success. With a strong foundation and clear trajectory in place, now is the right time to implement our succession plan,” Demetriou said in a statement.
Demetriou says Pragada’s passion for teamwork and innovation is evident in the company’s many achievements.
“During Bob Pragada’s 16 years with Jacobs, including the last several years as president and COO, he has demonstrated leadership excellence and a strong track record of execution,” Demetriou said.
Jacobs is a global operation that provides international engineering, architecture, and construction services.
Pragada joined Jacobs in 2006, and over the following nine years, he held several executive leadership positions, including Senior Vice President, Global Sales; Group Vice President, Northern Region (United States and the Republic of Ireland); and Vice President, Field Services. In 2016, the year Jacobs relocated to Dallas, he returned to Jacobs as President of Jacobs’ global Industrial and Buildings & Infrastructure lines of business, after serving as President and CEO of the Brock Group, one of the largest providers of industrial services in North America.
Pragada also serves as the Dallas Regional Chamber 2022 Chair of the Board.
The company said that he has been instrumental in developing and leading the successful execution of Jacobs’ strategy, as well as driving global integrated delivery of Jacobs’ operations around the world as a differentiator in the industry.
“It’s an exciting time for Jacobs,” Pragada said in a statement. “We’ve just launched our bold new strategy and are at the forefront of our industry—anticipating the global trends most important to our clients and developing differentiated, data-enabled solutions that meet their needs.
Pragada looks forward to advancing the “exciting work underway to further diversify our capabilities and offerings, increasing opportunities and value for our people, our clients and our shareholders alike.”
Demetriou will serve as executive chair for a minimum of two years, the company said, working as a member of the board advising Pragada on strategic and capital deployment initiatives. He will provide executive sponsorship for several key client engagements and ongoing culture initiatives and will also continue as a board member of PA Consulting.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I thank Steve for his service to Jacobs and his inspirational leadership during his tenure as CEO,” said Chris Thompson, lead independent director of the board.
“Steve set out to create ‘a company like no other’ and achieved it.,” said Thompson. “He was the architect of a visionary portfolio transformation that led to accelerated growth at Jacobs through the acquisition of CH2M, the sale of our oil, chemicals and mining businesses, and the majority investment in PA Consulting.”
After his appointment as CEO in 2015, Demetriou set in motion a major strategic and cultural transformation anchored on growth and inclusion.
The company said that the galvanizing elements included formalizing Jacobs’ purpose of creating a more connected, sustainable world and establishing the Company’s core values: “We do things right, We challenge the accepted, We aim higher and We live inclusion.”
He also unveiled Jacobs’ new brand and brand promise of “Challenging today. Reinventing tomorrow.”
Jacobs said in the statement that Demetriou’s aggressive portfolio transformation that emphasized higher-growth, higher-value businesses resulted in a roughly $11 billion increase to Jacobs’ market cap and a 236 percent total shareholder return, all while improving adjusted returns on invested capital by 260 basis points.
Demetriou also championed inclusion, and today, Jacobs’ executive leadership team and board are 67 percent and 50 percent diverse, respectively, across gender and ethnicity. Last year, he established Jacobs’ Office of Global Climate Response & ESG to provide focus and accountability on Jacobs’ efforts to address climate change. Jacobs is now ranked as the No. 1 environmental and sustainability consulting firm globally by Environment Analyst for significant work in line with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
With $14 billion in revenue and a talent force of more than 55,000 people, Jacobs provides a full spectrum of professional services including consulting, technical, scientific and project delivery for the government and private sector.
In July, Jacobs announced that it had received a new roughly $4 billion, 10-year JSC Engineering, Technology, and Science II contract at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The agreement extends Jacobs’ 17-year run of supporting human space explorattion at the center, as well as its 50-year partnership with NASA oversall.
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