The Importance of Reflecting the City You Serve

Gerard Orozco on how assembling a diverse, talented team helps CH2M best serve the people of Los Angeles

Gerard Orozco CH2M
Gerard Orozco, SVP and Key Account Executive, CH2M

On any given day, Gerard Orozco is juggling any number of projects across the country. But he loves the adrenaline rush that goes along with being part of a corporation with twenty-five thousand people around the globe. For over ten years, Orozco has been at CH2M, a company currently in the process of being acquired by Jacobs Engineering. As a senior vice president and key account executive, he tackles everything from government infrastructure projects to private industry challenges. 

He is known in political circles as a connector and sophisticated deal maker; it is not unusual for Orozco to be called on by US representatives, governors and mayors for advice. In his native city of Los Angeles, he often works closely with Mayor Eric Garcetti and his team on complicated local projects. As a senior vice president, Orozco is also in charge of expanding the company’s team.

“Growth is kind of who we are as a company, and the services we provide are at the highest level,” Orozco says. “When our clients call us about a project, they want the best and the brightest. It’s incumbent on us to know every aspect of the project we are working on and put the most talented people on our team.”

The SVP is particularly interested in hiring women and people of color—especially in Los Angeles. The city is more than 50 percent Latino and known for its vibrant diversity. Orozco says the workforce should reflect the city it serves.

“For me, when I see an engineer who looks like me, it means something. We use whatever means we have at our disposal to help make sure that our workforce reflects the city we serve,” Orozco says. “We also use local businesses whenever we can. It just makes good business sense.”

When the Los Angeles mayor calls on CH2M, he knows he’s going to get a diverse team that brings a lot to the table and Orozco knows he’s going to get the most accurate answers and solutions for the city’s most challenging issues.

Make no mistake: while there is something glamorous about running to City Hall in downtown Los Angeles for a meeting, the work is challenging. “I can’t deny that there are times when we face great challenges, but solving problems is what my team thrives on,” Orozco says.

While he’s not shy to make what he wants known, or to ask for what’s needed, his leadership style is relaxed. Orozco believes in hiring the right people for the job and simply trusting that they will meet all expectations once they are given a clear direction and armed with the right information.

“You can’t be in a role like this and micromanage. Not only is there no time for it, but it just won’t work,” Orozco says. “I know the people we hire are the best and they will get the job done. Things can be that simple when you’re in capable hands.”

Moving forward, Orozco and his team are working on a number of high-profile projects, including reforming the trash hauling system in the City of Los Angeles.  The system comes complete with aggressive recycling goals that will help create a more sustainable future for the city.

Another major project that’s generating a lot of buzz in Los Angeles is the company’s involvement in helping automate the city’s Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. This will be the first time in history the plant is automated, and Orozco is proud that his team was behind the initiative.

Orozco isn’t intimidated by such high-profile, demanding projects. He sees them as both a challenge and an adventure.

“Working with LA’s great leadership, we are going to get everything done,” the SVP says. “Sometimes we hit a little bump along the way, but when you’re working on such cutting-edge projects, it goes with the territory. I love the challenge. I love being a partner to the City of Los Angeles. None of this feels like work to us. We wouldn’t be satisfied doing the easy stuff. The project needs to be complex. We can solve anything.”