Jacobs taps Pragada as next CEO

Dive Brief:

  • Jacobs Solutions announced Thursday Bob Pragada, current president and chief operating officer and a 16-year veteran of the company, will succeed Steve Demetriou as chief executive officer and join Jacobs’ board of directors.
  • The changes are effective Jan. 24, 2023, the date of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
  • Demetriou will continue to serve as executive chair for a two-year minimum, advising Pragada on strategic and capital deployment initiatives as a member of Jacobs’ board of directors.

Dive Insight:

The Dallas-based contractor recently underwent a name change in order to more closely highlight its focus on intelligence, infrastrastructure, cybersecurity and space work. 

Growing economies and a rising middle class in emerging markets such as China and India that promote the expansion of roads, new buildings and reliable energy serve as a tailwind for Jacobs’ long-term growth, said Matt Arnold, industrial analyst with financial services firm Edward Jones, after Jacobs’ fourth quarter earnings call. 

That longer-term momentum has been viewed as a positive, despite the muted guidance the company provided in its most recent earnings report

Pragada has served as president and COO of Jacobs since 2019, providing executive oversight of all global operations. During his tenure, Pragada led the integration of CH2M, following the Jacobs’ watershed acquisition of the $5 billion diversified technical services company in 2017. The buyout of the firm, which focuses on infrastructure, water, environmental and nuclear sectors, at the time represented one of the largest deals ever in the engineering sector. 

Demetriou became CEO in 2015. In addition to the CH2M deal, he oversaw Jacobs’ 2020 majority investment in U.K.-based PA Consulting, a multi-billion-dollar digital consulting firm, while selling off the company’s oil, chemicals and mining businesses.

Last year, Jacobs identified global infrastructure modernization, climate response and the digitization of the industry as a three-pronged, multi-decade growth opportunity for the firm.

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