It’s only been two years since Hispanic Executive spoke with Janet González Tudor, but since then, the executive has been promoted to vice president and transportation advisory services director at HDR. She’s nearly tripled the size of her team, merging her former team with HDR’s operational resilience and principal consultant teams. Additionally, HDR has added equity as a service, digital advisory, asset management, and process improvement practice groups.
“Just looking at our nearly dozen principal consultants, most of these experts have served the public in departments of transportation, transit agencies, ports, and even aviation authorities,” González Tudor says. “These leaders have significant runway left in their career. Each one has an extensive network and incredible, real-world experience. Both individually and collectively, they serve as a unique resource both internally at HDR and for our diverse portfolio of transportation clients. I kid you not, we have 250 years of experience in-house from those folks. It’s unbelievable.”
González Tudor says that kind of high-caliber talent is necessary because of just how wide-ranging HDR’s operations run and how complex the projects they tackle can be, from funding all the way through the full lifecycle of an infrastructure project or program.
“It’s no longer the days when you’re going to divide an entire community because you think you need a highway,” she says, rather matter of fact. “That’s why we have a robust team of equity-focused practitioners and the largest economics and statistics practice as well as the largest strategic communications team in the engineering, architecture, and construction services space. Our communicators help clients design and implement effective stakeholder engagement and decision-support strategies by facilitating important conversations across communities.
“There are so many moving parts,” she continues. “It’s a dynamic group of collaborative individuals who are essential to solving problems and achieving community goals.”
For those who may not have the decades of expertise in their craft, González Tudor is focused on making sure that they have room to grow. Having evolved through eight different roles over nearly sixteen years at HDR, the VP understands the importance of succession planning and the motivation that can drive one to continue evolving in the same organization.
Keeping top talent means ensuring growth opportunities, and González Tudor knows it better than most.
Fortunately, the challenges clients hire HDR to solve allow for exponential personal development opportunities. “We operate as a matrix organization fueled by collaboration and networking,” González Tudor says. “That operational structure opens the door for continuous growth and career opportunities. We also continue to evolve our service offerings to support industry and clients’ needs in areas such as equity, infrastructure funding and finance, sustainability and resiliency, and asset management.”
Public-private partnerships (P3s) are just one of the many project delivery models that HDR helps clients navigate across the extensive list of markets that HDR serves.
González Tudor says the key to understanding what implementation model will work best on an infrastructure project comes down to putting all the cards on the table.
“To make these conversations and methods successful, you have to start by identifying those potential partnerships and identifying all of the risk scenarios for everyone to understand,” the VP explains. “What is the risk to the owner, developer, builder, or design team? What is the risk tolerance for those stakeholders? It is incumbent on us as consultants to have those conversations because we often find a significant lack of understanding on important matters that can severely impact the efficacy of these partnerships. That open communication up front helps create clarity.”
P3s are just one potential avenue. The fact remains that certain state policies still do not allow public entities to partner with private organizations. Tudor says HDR is adept at helping clients identify the project delivery model that will best suit their project. It requires navigating a complex web of state and municipal policies, involving all stakeholders, and thinking both critically and creatively about incredibly complex issues.
González Tudor says it is imperative for all parties involved to overtly define what they are trying to accomplish. The project or program must have clearly aligned goals before you start to analyze the delivery model that will help achieve those goals.
When asked what has kept the VP with HDR for so long, González Tudor does not have to give the question much thought before answering.
“As an urban planner, as a community planner, I’m deeply passionate about my environment,” she says. “My job is about the communities we serve. Being able to see the direct impact we have as a company when a community comes together to support a project or when a project groundbreaking happens is an incredibly fulfilling experience. It never gets old and only gets better with each new experience.”
González Tudor mentions her colleagues across the organization who work on supplying communities with clean water and the continuing push into renewable power sources. The executive gets to see the benefits of her organization’s work every day, and by extension, the betterment of the world around her.
There are other reasons González Tudor has stayed. HDR is the largest 100 percent employee-owned engineering, architecture, environmental, and construction services firm and the seventh-largest 100 percent employee-owned company based in the US, according to the National Center for Employee Ownership’s The Employee Ownership 100 2023 rankings. The culture is second-to-none. The expertise is world-class.
As the industry continues to evolve, González Tudor is certain that her nimble team will continue finding new ways to do what they do best: make communities more vibrant and organizations stronger.