The Atlanta Business Chronicle selected Kevin Edwards as a Most Admired CEO of 2021 for engineering, planning and architecture. Honorees were asked questions related to their leadership philosophy and success. The Most Admired CEO’s were celebrated on August 19th. The following was taken from Kevin’s Q&A with the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
What can other CEOs can do to win such great admiration from their stakeholders?
To gain admiration is not something that is forced onto others by your position. Your stakeholders have to see and feel the human side of you as a person and a leader. They have to see that you are flawed and not perfect. You have to admit to areas of struggles and also be prepared to praise and thank everyone, not just the high level employees.
What are the keys to CEOs building a high level of trust in their organizations?
To build trust, you have to yourself be honest and transparent to your organization. You have to allow an open door feel where your employees can come in and confide in you. They have to feel a level of loyalty to the firm and them as employees.
What does leadership and being a leader mean to you?
Leadership to me means taking the trust of my employees and implementing our joint desires through the governance of the company. As a leader I think my job is to be cognizant of my key employee’s initiatives, and find a way to guide the firm in one direction that will positively improve and grow our company. As a leader I may not agree with everyone, but still be open to hear the opinions and points of staff as pertains to the firm development.
Most Admired CEO selection was based on Kevin’s answers to the following questions, where we learn about his leadership style with emphasis on financial management, company culture and giving back to the community.
There is much more to know about Kevin and why he was named one of the Most Admired CEOs.
How has the leader contributed to the company’s financial success?
Prior to becoming the President of Eberly & Associates, Kevin Edwards was responsible for building the multi-family and mixed-use market sectors. Under his leadership it has become one of the firm’s largest and fastest growing business units.
Kevin became President of Eberly & Associates in January 2020. The firm was planning to have its highest revenue that year. In early April, when it became apparent that COVID-19 was more than a 2-week WFH event, Kevin immediately began reviewing the company’s financial position and revenue projections. He put plans in place to secure current work and coach clients to begin planning for future work and reduce expenses where possible. The firm applied for and received the initial PPP loan. Eberly exceeded the 2020 revised financial projects which allowed all employees to receive bonuses at year’s end.
With recent planning for next 5 years, Eberly & Associates is poised to continue on a growth trajectory with a minimum 8% revenue year over year growth.
How has the leader created a great work culture?
Kevin has led the company’s culture committee for the last 3 years. During that time, he has put in place practices that enhance the already collegial work atmosphere. We regularly host employee gatherings to promote comradery. These team building activities were difficult last year, but the firm added more virtual meetings to “check-in” on people. Staff were given thoughtful gifts as added touch points when we couldn’t be near. In addition, all employees were given cameras if they didn’t have them and encouraged to have them on when we “met” virtually in our group sessions. This allowed us to feel like we were still “together while being apart”.
Eberly & Associates has a very diverse staff. During the painful, social turmoil and rioting over George Floyd’s death, Kevin showed his strength as a leader. During a company-wide, virtual meeting, he invited those needing to have conversations into his office. He had open and candid conversations about his thoughts, experience and expressed is commitment to building on the company’s culture of inclusivity. This is a recent quote from one of our female, minority engineers, “I have never worked in an environment where I have felt more supported in my day to day work as well as professional development.” We are proud of the diversity our team brings to our industry. Aside from the United States, we currently have staff and ownership from Jamaica, Trinidad, India, Vietnam, Iran and Zimbabwe. Our staff is currently 30% minority, 33% female and 39% minority and female owned.
How has the leader made contributions to the community?
In addition to corporate roles at Eberly and Associates, Kevin has extended his time and efforts throughout the community at-large.
For the previous five years leading up to 2020, Kevin has offered his time as a guest speaker each school term at Georgia Tech’s “Leadership in Design and Construction” graduate studies class.
This entails meeting for a full class and allowing the students to hear about his views, experiences and wisdom pertaining to leadership in the design and construction industry. In particular, how did he get from “getting hired for your first job” to “being a leader today.” What advice would he give, and what lessons has he learned about being an effective leader in the A/E/C industry.
Another engagement is that Kevin currently serves as a voluntary member of the KSU CEE (College of Engineering and Engineering Technology) Advisory Board.
Although Kevin is a Georgia Tech master’s degree graduate, he was still recommended to be on KSU’s CEE board by the Acting Head of CEE who was familiar with his presence in the A/E/C community.
In the role as an Advisory Board member, Kevin reviews curriculum, discusses enrollment strategies, confers on industry driven directives that the school should be aware of, and serves as an overall gauge on improving KSU’s presence in the A/E/C community as an Engineering college.
Congratulations Kevin and thank you for you dedication to our team!
photography courtesy of Leapley Construction and Byron Small.