KANSAS CITY, MO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/18/12 -- Burns & McDonnell announced that it has promoted John Olander to serve as Vice President and General Manager of its Transmission & Distribution (T&D) Division, replacing Walt Womack upon his retirement at year-end 2012.
'No one can really replace Wally Womack because of what he has meant to Burns & McDonnell,' said Burns & McDonnell Chairman and CEO Greg Graves. 'In his 42 years here, Wally has truly been the leader we have all looked up to. His counsel and business sense have been just what we needed during every stage of our growth and his mentorship to dozens of young engineers, including me, means that the Burns & McDonnell culture is deeply rooted in everything we do. He has put the right foundation in place and it will be exciting to see John Olander carry on his legacy.'
With more than 650 employee-owners working in Kansas City and in more than 20 offices and project locations across the U.S. and Canada, Olander will lead Burns & McDonnell's largest division. Currently ranked as the largest T&D engineering firm in the nation by Engineering News-Record magazine, the Burns & McDonnell T&D group is currently working on many of the largest high-voltage electrical transmission projects in North America. More than 400 employee-owners in the Construction Design/Build, Environmental Studies & Permitting and Business & Technology Services divisions also are assigned to Burns & McDonnell's T&D projects and are crucial to helping the firm achieve its Number 1 industry ranking.
Olander joined Burns & McDonnell in 1991 as an electrical engineer working in the firm's air pollution control group. He supported Burns & McDonnell's Energy group shortly afterward working on a variety of electrical and infrastructure projects. When the T&D division was formed in 1994, Olander joined the following year as a substation engineer.
By 1998, Olander had been promoted to a project manager role, leading a challenging engineer-procure-construct (EPC) project for Brazos Electric Power Cooperative in Texas. His success with that initial project lead him to similar roles on larger EPC projects, including a 2005 project award from Xcel Energy that was at that time the largest EPC project in the transmission industry and the largest the firm had undertaken. In 2006, Olander became T&D's EPC project leader and in 2008, he was promoted to his current role as vice president. Olander is a 1989 engineering graduate of North Dakota State University and received his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 1996 from the University of Kansas. He is a licensed professional engineer in Kansas and New Jersey.
Womack joined Burns & McDonnell in 1970 shortly after graduating from the University of Kansas School of Engineering. He began in the firm's Energy Division designing high-voltage substations, later supporting interconnections of increasingly high profile power generation projects to the transmission grid. After being promoted to serve as the Energy Division's director of business development, Womack was instrumental in landing several projects in the mid-1980s that were crucial during Burns & McDonnell's early years as an employee-owned firm.
In 1994, Womack was appointed to lead the new Burns & McDonnell T&D Division after it was split from the Energy Group and has overseen its rapid growth since that time.
'Our success and the industry recognition the T&D group has received is more about what Burns & McDonnell does as a whole than about what T&D has done,' Womack said. 'Every employee-owner at Burns & McDonnell has contributed to our success because everyone is focused on doing whatever it takes to serve our clients. I've had a great ride and now I'm excited to turn the keys over to John because it's his time.'
Olander said: 'The only way you can follow a leader like Wally is to follow his example of humility and service and remember that the best way to lead is to hire great people and get out of their way. Wally set the standard and now we just have to carry on with what he started.'
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