5 Questions with Bill Bailey

With CMT since 1989, Bill Bailey, PE, SE, is the CEO and President of the firm. His leadership qualities are informed by insights and experience derived from a wide-spanning professional path that has included the roles of chief structural engineer, Indianapolis office manager, Continuous Improvement program leader, and human resources officer. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Purdue University, and in 2021, was honored with the prestigious Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award presented by the university’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering.

What role does sustainability and corporate social responsibility play at CMT?

While sustainability was officially incorporated into our Core Values a few years ago, it has always been part of what we do as civil engineers as we “steward” society’s infrastructure. Everything that civil engineers do is for the greater good of our society, whether that’s designing water and sewer systems improvements; providing safe transportation, including roads and highways, airports, rail, and other modes; or devising the means to construct our projects without negatively impacting our environment. We want to do all of these things to make the communities we live in better – providing a better tomorrow for our clients and the people they serve.

Additionally, we also want to be good citizens in our communities, and one way is using our time and talents to serve others, whether that’s through organizations that can use our skills – like Habitat for Humanity or a STEM mentorship program – or just getting involved with a community cleanup project. Being an active member in the communities we serve provides satisfaction for the individuals participating and reflects well on those participating and on CMT.

How would you describe CMT’s culture of quality, and how do CMT team members demonstrate that culture in their service to clients?

Quality at CMT has always been one of our hallmarks. It’s a differentiator for us when we win new clients, and it also helps us retain existing clients. Once our clients experience The CMT Difference, there is a great chance we will have repeat business with that client. We provide that through the quality of our work and our relationships.

All of our projects start with a relationship, and the ones we have with our clients are outstanding. Building partnerships and trust with our clients is crucial to our success. Once we have a project with a client, the next most important thing is that we produce quality for that client. At CMT, that means meeting their requirements – whether it’s a great set of plans and specifications, a planning or environmental report, a great field-to-finish survey, or outstanding coordination as we assist clients through construction, it’s our responsibility to provide that with quality as we meet the scope, budget, and schedule of our work. We have to know our clients to understand what they want and need; it’s our job to deliver that for them.

How has our profession evolved over your career, and where do you see it going?

It’s really interesting to look back over my career and see so much change, and now the accelerated rate of change in our profession. When I started at CMT, the work was performed more mechanically and even more methodically. My first desk was a drafting table and six of us shared a computer. We had some drawings being prepared on CADD with a team of technicians recently trained in the use of that tool and others still developed by hand on the drafting board. The advent of the personal computer made everything move faster.

The next wave was when the PC became the main tool for everyone. More of the calculations were prepared using spreadsheets and other software, and more of the plan production was completed by the engineers. Templates and base sheets helped make the design and production process more efficient.

The advent and growth of the internet changed things again and dramatically shifted how we can work together from many locations. Our various geographic offices became interconnected, and that added to our ability to provide more services to more clients, even if all the experts weren’t in the local geography. Our design tools continued to change as well, and they became more three dimensional in their capabilities. We are still working in this realm today and improving our capabilities.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that the next disrupter in our ever-changing world includes artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and automation. We are currently exploring these things and are interested in input from all of CMT as to where we can and should go from here. These technologies are advancing quickly, and we must ensure we are keeping up so CMT can stay competitive in what will be the future of civil engineering.

As CMT’s new CEO, what excites you most about the future of CMT?

As I think about our future, there are several things that excite me. For instance, the advancement of big projects like the MSD Incinerator, Joliet Alternative Water Source, and Airglades are not just big projects – they’re great opportunities for our newer staff to set the trajectories for their careers.

Another source of excitement is the continuous advancement of newer tools like our knowledge base, the CMT Knowledge Deck, including its rollout and development. New tools are being developed daily, and it’s important for us to keep up. The Knowledge Deck is something the younger members of our team are asking for, and it is truly needed to help maintain the quality of our work and share our knowledge efficiently.

I’m also eager to see continued growth and diversity of the CMT staff. The staff growth over the last five years has been phenomenal and is so exciting to see. Seeing the new employees and the diverse nature of our new team members is really outstanding.

As Chief Executive, one of my responsibilities is to prepare us for the next generation(s) of leadership at CMT. Every person in this firm should be looking for ways to replicate themselves so they can move on to the next rung on their career development ladder, and I’m no different. There will be a lot of leadership transitions in the coming years, and we must be intentional about preparing multiple candidates to fill a wide variety of leadership roles.

What makes you proud to work at CMT?

It really starts with the people! I’ve been very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with some great people – not just great engineers, technicians, scientists, and other professional staff – over my career. I’ve seen great leaders, have had great mentors, and worked with a lot of fantastic peers. We’ve developed challenging projects for our clients and communities of a wide variety, which has made my career so exciting.

What is so great now, in my leadership role, is to see all the new employees who are getting the opportunity to experience the same things, and more, like I did throughout my career. It’s so encouraging to see and get to know our newest team members, which is why I really enjoy our New Employee Workshops. Their enthusiasm is fantastic.

Fantastic projects, outstanding client relationships, and great people to work with every day – those are the things that make me proud to say I’m part of the CMT Team.