Meet the Company: Bechtel

On March 26, more than 60 WIT members and others participated in a Meet the Company event at Bechtel in Reston, Virginia.

Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, construction and project management, operates through four global businesses: Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security and Environmental; Oil, Gas and Chemicals; and Mining and Metals.  The Hoover Dam (AZ); Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station (CA); Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension (VA); and Tacoma Narrows Bridge (WA) are among its signature projects in the U.S.. 

The privately-held company has a proud 120-year history and has been named ENR magazine’s Top U.S. Contractor for 19 consecutive years. It is also a strong supporter of the STEM program. Last year, Bechtel partnered with the American Society of Civil Engineers and MacGillivray Freeman Films to launch Dream Big: Engineering our World. This first-of-its-kind IMAX® film is part of a larger movement to help fill the gap by introducing students to STEM careers.

Bechtel CIO Carol Zierhoffer and Dena Volovar, manager of Functions for the Nuclear, Security and Environmental business, spoke to attendees about their respective career paths, current responsibilities, and why they like working at Bechtel. 

Carol and Dena also answered questions from the audience, discussing their experiences working in a male-dominated industry, Bechtel’s commitment to innovation and diversity, the importance of mentoring, and recognizing and testing a company’s values.

Carol spent 20 years at Northrup Grumman, a leading U.S. aerospace and defense contractor before joining Bechtel in 2013. Being drawn to big projects that impact people’s lives, she joined Bechtel to pursue that passion. Carol also noted the importance of sharing Bechtel’s Vision, Values and Covenants: “We carry those commitments on our badges, and we live them every day.”

Dena spent most of her career with Bechtel, serving in 12 different roles, in four locations, in three of the four business units. She loves the variety and excitement of the work, the constant challenge, and the people she works with. “Bechtel does many things in many places. It’s a great place to step out of your mold,” Dena said.

Both Bechtel leaders are married, have children, and acknowledge the challenges of family/work balance, including an occasional bout of “Mommy Guilt.” In overcoming the challenges, they underscore their partners who understand and support their passions, and the great joy and pride they have for their jobs.

When asked for advice to their 21-year old selves, Carol said: “You only get one life. This is not a dress rehearsal. Work for the balance but do what you enjoy.”

Regarding the many opportunities to move within a company, Dena said: ”Don’t limit yourself.  When new opportunities arise, ask yourself what you can get out of the experience.”

The session included a vibrant networking session, with several Bechtel leaders meeting with attendees and answering questions about their respective businesses.

The next WIT “meet the Company” will be Monday, April 23 at Grant Thornton.  To register for the Grant Thornton event please go to: .


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