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A Look Back: Catching Up with Paul Greenhagen, 2019 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award Winner

A Look Back: Catching Up with Paul Greenhagen, 2019 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award Winner

By Luke Carothers

Each year, Zweig Group, based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, presents the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership award, which is given to an individual working in an architecture, engineering, planning, or environmental firm who has made a tremendous impact on the company through courageous leadership. It is the highest individual award given by Zweig Group.

This award is named in honor of Jerry Allen, a leader in the industry who inspired loyalty and innovation. Jerry Allen grew the Fort Worth based firm Carter & Burgess (now Jacobs) from 200 employees and $17 million in revenue in 1988 to 2,300 employees and $381 million in revenue by 2002.  After Jerry Allen passed away from colon cancer at the age of 62, the award was developed in his honor.

Zweig Group Founder and Chairman, Mark Zweig believes the special nature of this award lies in the man it was named after, saying, “[the award] honors a tremendous individual.  Jerry was a very, very strategic thinker.  He was truly great at getting people behind his program and make it happen. We are looking for other Jerry Allen’s out there.  People who have that spirit to overcome obstacles.  Individuals who can achieve their long-term vision through other people.  Individuals who know how to treat other people.”

Zweig Group’s 2019 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership award winner is certainly cut from the same cloth.

Paul Greenhagen, PS, was appointed CEO of Westwood in 2010.  Under his direction, the firm has expanded from one office in Minnesota to a dozen offices throughout the U.S.  The first step of this expansion took place shortly after Greenhagen took over as CEO and President in the depths of a recession.  At a time when other companies were downsizing, Greenhagen had the foresight to bolster Westwood’s chances of growing despite the economic climate.

According to Bryan P. Powell, PE, this is an example of starting with a single crazy idea and working from there.  Powell, who is the Senior Vice President of Westwood’s Land Division, started working at the company shortly after Greenhagen became president in 2010.  He believes Greenhagen has the, “ability and willingness to take risk, dream big, and create a vision for what Westwood can become.”  Powell also adds that Greenhagen has, “humility as a leader” and that he “acknowledges he doesn’t have the answer to every question.”

We sat down with Paul to see if he had the answers to our questions:

Civil + Structural Engineer: The 2019 Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award was presented live at the Elevate AEC conference.  What were you feeling in the initial moments after hearing your name called, and what did it mean to be recognized with such an accomplishment in a room full of your peers?

PG: It was completely unexpected and a great feeling to be recognized by my team.  I was very surprised, humbled, and very honored to be chosen for this award from all of the worthy candidates in the room.

C+S: Your colleagues noted your incredible ability to confidently lead your employees and empower them to take calculated risks.  Has winning this award caused any change in your leadership style, or has it more reinforced the way you were doing things previously?

PG: Winning the award has reinforced the way I do things and gives me confidence as we continue to make bold moves and take calculated risks.

C+S: They also mentioned your ability to cultivate a “one-team” spirit within the company, which is evident considering your firm also took home awards in Best Firms to Work for, Hot Firms, Marketing Excellence, and Trifecta.  How do you weigh those awards against something like the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award?

We work very hard at Westwood to cultivate a One Team culture across all of our markets, service groups, and offices. We never stop challenging ourselves to improve as a Best Place to Work, Hot Firm, and in Marketing Excellence. I think the Jerry Allen award is recognition of that constant effort to improve and build a strong cohesive team.

C+S: This award encompasses quite a bit of growth undertaken by Westwood, and with such strides you are certainly deserving.  With that said, what’s next for you and Westwood?

PG: I truly believe that with growth comes success, both professionally and personally. I will keep growing with the company.

We will raise the bar. We will continue to challenge ourselves as a company and as individuals, which means we intentionally strive to improve. Our strategic plan calls for strong growth and continued diversification in our markets, locations, and services. We are always looking for great people and teams to help us achieve our goals.

Luke Carothers is the editor for Civil + Structural Engineer. If you want to contribute an article or talk about a project, contact him at lcarothers@zweiggroup.com.