Photo of awardee

William N. Dudley

President and COO
Bechtel Group Inc.
BSCE ’74

In recognition of his accomplishments in the field of civil engineering both in the United States and around the world

Bill Dudley grew up in Indianapolis, the son of a Purdue civil engineer who ran his own small construction business. It was only natural that Dudley would end up a Purdue civil engineer as well. After earning his bachelor’s degree in 1974, he worked for seven years as an engineer at Fluor Corp., serving in Los Angeles, Chicago and South Africa on projects ranging from coal-fired power plants to multibillion-dollar oil-for-coal projects.

I lived in South Africa during apartheid,” Dudley says. “No one would trade oil with the country because of apartheid, so the South African National Oil Company hired us to build an oil-from-coal project for them. It was this experience that got me hooked on working for a large international company. I liked the opportunities, the travel and the variety of experiences it offered me.”

Dudley made some friends during his South Africa years who ended up leaving to work for Bechtel Group Inc., one of the world’s premier engineering, construction and project management companies. In 1981, one of these contacts made Dudley an offer to join Bechtel. He started as a senior engineer and worked his way up steadily over the years on assignments in Bangkok, Singapore, London and Houston.

“I was sent to Thailand as the project manager on a subsea gas pipeline project,” Dudley says when asked to describe his most rewarding project. “I had never been a project manager, never been to Thailand and never worked on a pipeline project prior to that. So it was a great learning experience. The project was a success and the customer has since awarded Bechtel a steady stream of repeat business. My project was our first with this customer, so it’s satisfying to know that I helped develop a relationship that has provided continuous work for more than 20 years.”

In 2008, Dudley was promoted to president and COO – a position he continues to serve in today.

“I spend a lot of time with clients and focus a good deal on getting the right employees in the right place,” he says. “That’s harder than you might think. You need to consider technical skills, interpersonal dynamics and local culture to ensure you’re putting the right teams together to be successful.”

Dudley also thinks a lot about succession planning and strategies for the long-term future of Bechtel. “We’ve been named the No. 1 contractor in the U.S. by Engineering News-Record for 12 consecutive years,” he notes. “It’s my goal to have that continue well after my retirement.”

When asked what aspects of his career make him the most proud, Dudley circles back to his original ambitions. “I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I would,” he says. “When I came out of Purdue, I would have been more than happy to end up running a small local firm like my dad’s. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to lead one of the best engineering/construction companies in the world. It has been very rewarding.”

Career Highlights

2008-present President and COO, Bechtel Group Inc.
2001-2008 President, Oil, Gas and Chemicals Business Unit, Bechtel Corp.
1999-2001 President, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia, Bechtel Corp.
1991-1999 Project Manager/General Manager, Bechtel Corp.
Southeast Asia/Country Manager, Bechtel Corp.
1981-1991 Senior Engineer, Bechtel Corp.
1974-1981 Engineer, Fluor Corp.
1974 BSCE, Purdue University