Bill Dudley is chief executive officer of Bechtel Group, Inc., and has served as a member of the company’s board of directors since 2000.
Since joining Bechtel in 1981, Mr. Dudley has served in a variety of engineering, project management, and executive management positions globally. He became president of the Oil, Gas & Chemicals business unit in 2001, assumed leadership of the Mining & Metals business unit’s Latin America and Oceania regions in 2003 and Asia in 2004.
Prior to these assignments, Mr. Dudley was located in London, where he served as president of Bechtel’s Europe, Africa, Middle East, Southwest Asia organization, responsible for all Bechtel business lines in the region. Mr. Dudley also served as Bechtel’s general manager for Southeast Asia, country manager for Thailand, and general manager of Bechtel’s pipeline business in Asia.
Mr. Dudley was elected a senior vice president in 1997 and became Bechtel’s president and chief operating officer in 2008. He was elected chief executive officer in 2014.
Mr. Dudley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Purdue University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston. He currently serves on the board of the Engineering Advisory Council at Purdue. Mr. Dudley is a Business Roundtable member, and actively participates in numerous charitable organizations.
Bechtel is among the most respected global engineering, project management, and construction companies, and a cornerstone of innovation in the industry. Together with our customers, we deliver landmark projects—the modern marvels of the world—that foster sustainable progress and grow economies.
Corporate Social Responsibility or stewardship is Bechtel’s commitment to harnessing our human capital and resources to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and to helping improve the quality of life in communities where we live and work. Bechtel and its employees play an important role in developing the next generation of engineers, scientists and technologists in our country. We recognize that future leaders will need strong math and science backgrounds to solve the complex problems we face.
Bechtel is a signature sponsor of five key programs: DiscoverE; Engineers Without Borders; FIRST®; Junior Achievement Worldwide®; and Ocean Exploration Trust. Since 2011, our STEM investments totaled nearly $10 million.
Studies suggest that students’ interest in STEM subjects tends to weaken when they reach middle school, so the challenge is to work even harder to gain their interest early. One of the most successful programs we’ve seen to achieve this has been through our partnership with FIRST, which uses the excitement of building a robot to engage kids from elementary through high school.
FIRST programs have volunteer mentors who work with local robotics teams weekly, which allows students to really get to know their mentors. There is no substitute for this kind of interaction — kids get to know engineers and other STEM professionals and get firsthand experience on what it means to work in this field. Frequently we host FIRST workshops in Bechtel facilities because we know students value seeing what a professional work environment looks like.
Similarly, it’s more likely that girls and minority students will pursue STEM careers if they have the opportunity to meet and interact with professionals who look like them and come from similar backgrounds. At Bechtel, we prioritize efforts that promote minorities and women in engineering, including leadership in the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Women in Nuclear (WIN). In 2013, we launched Women@Bechtel, a new employee resource group for women and men who support gender inclusiveness at Bechtel. We encourage our colleagues to dedicate time to visiting local schools and volunteering with students to give back to their communities. Often, the simple act of talking with these young people, asking them about their goals, and helping them learn about what it’s like to be an engineer is a pivotal conversation. It’s a truly empowering experience for these volunteers when they realize the potential impact they can have on the direction their students’ lives may take.
It’s especially important in the conversations we have with young people to make sure we are sending out the right message. Young people are curious by their very nature, and so are the best engineers. So we have to capitalize on that curiosity by showing them that engineering and STEM subjects in the professional world are an opportunity to help solve the world’s greatest puzzles, such as resource scarcity, urban growth, and the need for sustainable sources of power. Bechtel colleagues work on these problems every day, and so their stories and experiences are the best source of inspiration for young people. Last year, a Bechtel-sponsored FIRST LEGO League team from Chile was recognized among hundreds of others for its innovative solution for helping people prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from natural disasters. The experience of living in a part of the world where flooding, earthquakes, wildfires and other natural disasters are all too common has inspired these young people to be part of the solution. They developed a low-cost plan of embedding retroreflectors and LED lighting in roads to guide people in a tsunami evacuation. It’s experiences like these where we can truly see the value of engaging with young people about engineering – we have the opportunity to help light the spark of some truly remarkable future engineers.
The best indicator of success is the vitality of the STEM workforce and length of time STEM professionals choose to stay in the field. Another indicator is available opportunities and challenging work in our industry. Additionally, increasing the number of women, minorities, and young people in STEM fields will be a signal that what we’re doing is working.
Inclusive work environments that encourage and foster innovation can be a catalyst for creating and retaining STEM professionals. For example, women and minorities in STEM fields must see ample opportunities for themselves and others.
People want to know that their work means something. You can find a steady paycheck and benefits in many sectors, but I think the key to advancing STEM careers is to show the potential STEM professionals have in creating a better world. This is that “something extra” that many young people are looking for, and we have to show them it can be found in the STEM field.
At Bechtel, we build projects that transform lives and communities, and we make it a point to share this bigger picture with students we mentor, with interns, college hires, and in our approach to the work we do. Our work with Engineers Without Borders; DiscoverE; and FIRST is a perfect fit, because these partnerships depend on dedicated, passionate employee volunteers who go the extra mile to spark passion in students.
Another area of opportunity involves promoting STEM careers to women and minority students. We have to ensure that they see themselves reflected in the STEM workforce. For this to happen, we need to take the dialogue to them. We need to be in their communities and schools, providing exposure to STEM that they may not otherwise have. It’s a gap we have to bridge in order to grow STEM fields and nurture the talent needed for companies like Bechtel.
I am most proud of the fact that for 25 years, Bechtel has played a key role in creating and growing DiscoverE, which was previously known as Engineers Week. In 1990, CEO and Chairman Steve Bechtel, Jr. chaired the first US-wide Engineers Week, and since then, the organization has supported 5 million students and teachers through the participation of more than 50,000 engineers. During Engineers Week this year, Bechtel colleagues reached out to over 5,500 students through classroom presentations and other events featuring hands-on engineering activities and mentoring.
One of the things I love most about DiscoverE is that it empowers anyone with a love of STEM to get out there and engage students. You don’t have to be an engineer or a scientist – all that’s needed is the desire to introduce children to STEM subjects in a way that leaves them wanting more. DiscoverE provides all the information and resources needed, including engineering activities that ignite students’ creativity and critical thinking, and ways to talk to kids about engineering in a way that sparks their curiosity and inspires them to learn more.
DiscoverE initiatives such as Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and the Global Marathon For, By, and About Women in Engineering & Technology in particular are outstanding opportunities for our colleagues and leadership to get involved – how to encourage girls and young women to enter the STEM field, and how to ensure that they have ample opportunities for growth and continued success once they’re here.