Dannenbaum Engineering President/CEO Michel Maksoud on career development, COVID-19 & more
Michel Maksoud, Ph.D., P.E., is only the third president in the 75-year history of Dannenbaum Engineering, a Texas civil engineering firm based in Houston.
He was appointed to the top position in November 2019 after leading Dannenbaum Engineering’s Houston Transportation Department since 2006. The civil engineer headed up major transportation projects that keep commerce moving and shape future growth in the nation’s fourth-largest city, including Segment F-1 of the regional Grand Parkway.
In this interview, Michel talks about how Dannenbaum Engineering has earned a reputation for innovation, where he’s leading the company, how they’re dealing with COVID-19, and career advancement tips.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities you see in the field of civil engineering today?
While I’ve supervised staff working from home for at least five years, COVID-19 presents new challenges. With large numbers working from home, we’re exploring more ways to improve communication, strengthen teams, leverage technology, and have some face-to-face meetings while following recommended guidelines to fully harness our engineering power and continue to foster innovation.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in their engineering career?
I was raised with the “work hard and you’ll get there” philosophy. While still true, I would add that you also have to make yourself more visible and provide value to peers and supervisors. Go above and beyond and be passionate about your work.
Get involved in your communities, engineering societies, and industry associations. Build a network of peers and grow together. You’ll all become influential industry leaders who can help each other. What do you want to accomplish as president?
Dannenbaum Engineering has a remarkable history of innovation, long-term client relationships, and major projects that make communities better. Building on those strengths, I’d like to grow the company organically, give our employees career development opportunities, and always strive to deliver engineering excellence.
How does a company foster a culture of innovation?
There’s no one recipe. For us, it’s hiring and retaining a diverse group of dedicated employees, encouraging mutual trust and respect, and setting a high bar for excellence. We also encourage employees to be active in engineering, industry, and community groups. We talk to our clients and community leaders about their challenges and help them find innovative solutions.
How do you build long-term relationships with clients?
We look at projects from the clients’ perspective, do a good job, give them good value and help them accomplish their goals. We want to build trust by offering solutions and helping them get things done.
ABOUT DANNENBAUM ENGINEERING
Founded in 1945 and headquartered in Houston, Texas, Dannenbaum Engineering is one of the state's premier civil engineering firms with expertise in public infrastructure, surface transportation, land development, hydrology and hydraulics, airports, ports, and harbors. The company has seven offices across Texas. https://www.dannenbaum.com