AROUND THE NETWORK: Burns & McDonnell Senior Executive Leslie Duke Named New CEO of 100% Employee-Owned Firm

Leslie Duke was recently named the new CEO of BuiltWorlds member Burns & McDonnell, effective Jan. 1, 2024. In March, current Burns & McDonnell Chairman and CEO Ray Kowalik announced his retirement at the end of 2023, coming off a record-breaking year for the firm. Duke will be the eighth CEO in the firm’s 125-year history.

Currently, Duke is the regional president and general manager in Houston, Texas. Over the past two decades, she helped expand the firm’s customer base from one local Houston client when she joined the firm to more than 650 local, regional and national clients in the industrial, refining, chemical, manufacturing and power utility markets. During her tenure, the business has delivered over $5 billion in engineering, procurement, construction, environmental and consulting services from the region.

“Leslie’s strong track record of success and an extraordinary vision for the future makes her the right person to lead the firm forward,” Kowalik says. “Leslie is poised to lead our organization into a new era of technology, innovation and growth, and I’m confident she will continue to build on our ownership legacy of caring for our clients, communities and one another.”

Duke grew up in El Paso and joined Burns & McDonnell in 1999 as a structural engineer. She has served in multiple leadership roles, including opening and growing several new offices. She became a senior vice president in 2014 and was named the company’s first female president in 2016.

She played an integral role in launching the firm’s engineer-procure-construct (EPC) delivery method in the south-central region, and her efforts have led to the development and successful execution of many projects and programs. Under her leadership, Burns & McDonnell has been recognized by numerous industry and community organizations.

“I built my career on my ability to create and drive strategies aligned with the needs of clients, markets and our employee-owners,” Duke says. “I’m truly honored and humbled to take on this new role. Burns & McDonnell has always been a trailblazer in the industry, and I am excited to contribute my experience to help us further our collective success.”

Our Paris Summit will be taking place next month, and BuiltWorlds is once again pleased to partner with Women In Contech to help support the effort to promote more leadership opportunities for women in the construction technology sector and also to afford opportunities for leading women in the sector to share perspectives with others.  This year’s topic will be related to construction technology and the environment.



BuiltWorlds “Around the Network” Briefings offer BuiltWorlds Members an opportunity to keep the Community informed of their own initiatives, resource offerings, and other things they are excited to share about or collaborate around. We generally pull these posts as “highlights” from Member Company PagesInnovation Exchange Posts, and other places our members share with us what they are up to.


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