The nitty-gritty work of business rarely occurs without significant involvement of accountants, architects, engineers, marketers and other consultants. This section includes a diversity of skilled leaders representing both homegrown and international businesses and partnerships. North Carolina’s competitive economic advantages and increasing national prominence is helping spur expansion by many professional-services firms.
president, chief creative officer | Wray Ward
Appleby, 56, joined Wray Ward, one of Charlotte’s largest creative agencies, as the senior art director in 1993. The Penn State graduate has been the top executive since 2001.Read More
Employer’s distinction: Wray Ward offers an incredible platform through which to give back. Through our FORM internship and EmpoWWer service-grant programs, we’re able to use our strategic, creative and mentorship talents for good, supporting our communities through countless initiatives and shaping the next generation of marketing-communications professionals.
Best advice: My father taught me through his actions the importance of getting involved in and giving back to the community. My volunteer leadership with organizations including United Way, Arts & Science Council of Charlotte, Charlotte Center City Partners and my current role with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library have allowed me to give back to strengthen all corners of the community. Following in my father’s footsteps has enriched my life in so many ways, including personal growth, building lasting relationships, and being a role model for the next generation of volunteer leaders.
Proud family accomplishment: My husband made the ultimate sacrifice 22 years ago, stepping away from his career to be a stay-at-home dad. His presence, love and involvement in our daughters’ academic and sports activities have had a remarkable effect on the bright young women they are today. It also allowed me to focus on my career and business.
Favorite music: Dance, funk and anything from the ’80s always makes me happy.
executive vice president, critical infrastructure | Parsons
Beach oversees $1.7 billion in annual revenue through Parsons’ Charlotte-based critical infrastructure unit, which includes roads, highways, bridges, aviation, rail and transit, and utilities. Beach, who has a master’s degree from Boston University and a bachelor’s from the University of Colorado, joined the Centreville, Va.-based company in 2008 and assumed his current position in 2019.
founder | BROOKHOUSE
The University of Tennessee graduate, 58, founded the brand-development company in March after more than two decades at Luquire George Andrews, where she most recently served as president and partner. In 2020, LGA claimed eight American Advertising Federation District 3 Awards. She was named Charlotte BusinessWoman of the year by Queens University in 2019.Read More
Best advice: Empathy matters most. (advice from my parents, by example)
Favorite recent book: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Something surprising: I’m terribly claustrophobic. On the rare occasions I’m on an elevator these days, I very much appreciate the reduced capacity requirement.
president, managing principal | Cline Design
The UNC Charlotte graduate has more than 36 years of experience in the architecture industry, founding Cline Design in 1989. In 2020, the firm’s projects of note include the mixed-use project Peace Raleigh Apartments and the corporate headquarters for golf-grip manufacturer Golf Pride in Pinehurst.
U.S. central growth market leader, Charlotte managing partner | Ernst & Young
With a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from UNC Wilmington, Coley, 56, oversees 1,700 staffers for the grant consultancy. He also partnered with former Duke Energy executive Lloyd Yates and Hugh McColl Jr. to form the Bright Hope Capital investment firm to back Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses. Its first deal was to buy Charlotte’s R.J. Leeper Construction.Read More
Best advice: Focus on the things that I can change, and do it robustly and proudly so at the end of the day I can answer, ”What will be my legacy?” (retired EY partner Tom Hough)
Proud family accomplishment: My parents and in-laws and the commitments and sacrifices they made to ensure our paths and journey would be easier than theirs
Person you admire: [Former Atlanta Mayor] Maynard Jackson. He did what was right despite all odds. He ran a major Southern city that helped boost the world’s busiest airport, allowed minorities to do business with the government, hosted the Olympic Games and attracted people to the Black mecca known as ATL.
Favorite recent book: The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
Favorite music: Hip-hop
Something surprising: I’m super competitive. Just ask my daughter, Tanna, about our word game competition. She beats me 75% of the time, but I will never give up.
senior vice president | Kimley-Horn
Deans joined the engineering company as a marketing manager after graduating from N.C. State University in 1993. He now oversees business development across 10 Southeast offices. In 2020, Kimley-Horn was named among the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. The company was founded in Raleigh in 1967.
founding principal | Duda|Paine Architects
A graduate of N.C. State University with a master’s from Yale, Duda met founding partner Jeffrey Paine while working for famed architect César Pelli. Formed in 1997, Duda|Paine designed N.C. State’s Talley Student Union and Dimensional Place in Charlotte.
owner | Fitzpatrick Communications
Fitzpatrick is a veteran public affairs and crisis management consultant to many Tar Heel companies. She is on the boards of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Lucy Daniels Foundation and Hussman School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNC Chapel Hill, her alma mater.
principal, vice president, and Charlotte office leader | LS3P
Floyd’s architectural clients have included The Bissell Cos. and Spectrum Properties. With degrees from UNC Charlotte and N.C. State University, Floyd, 66, joined LS3P’s board in 2019.Read More
Employer’s distinction: LS3P strives to empower all its employees to embellish their creative abilities and accomplish goals and position them within a sector of work they are passionate about.
Proud family accomplishment: All my children are well educated, fulfilled in their careers, and have meaningful and happy lives.
Favorite passions: Quail hunting and dog training
Person you admire: H.C. Bissell has been a great mentor.
chairman, CEO | French West Vaughan
Founded in 1997, FWV now employs more than 100 public-relations, advertising and digital-media experts in Raleigh, New York City, Los Angeles and Tampa. A graduate of Oakland University, French, 58, was inducted into the N.C. Media and Journalism Hall of Fame in 2018. He also is a co-owner of the Daytona Tortugas minor league baseball team and manages Prix Productions, a feature film and documentary company.Read More
First job: Newspaper carrier as a kid. My first professional position was as a staff reporter at a community newspaper chain in the Detroit area.
Best advice: Take care of your business properly so that it can properly take care of you. Lee Trone, former chairman of Trone Advertising in Greensboro, gave me that advice. Too many entrepreneurs start a business for the wrong reasons — to create a job or enrich themselves. That should never be the motivation for starting anything. When giving speeches, I advise attendees that as the owner or CEO, you sit in last position, not first. Your first obligation is to take care of your customers, employees and infrastructure needs, leaving sufficient cash in the business to comfortably fund operations through any unforeseen downturns. After you’ve done the right things to give your business the best chance for success, you can look at your own interests.
Favorite passion: I play year-round in men’s ice hockey, baseball and softball leagues.
Favorite music: Rock ‘n’ roll (French is on the national board of trustees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Buddy Holly Educational Foundation; the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association and Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s charity, Teen Cancer America.)
Something surprising: I have four major motion pictures in development, including a Buddy Holly-inspired biopic on the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and a survival drama that I’m producing with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
principal, managing director | Gensler
Gaulden has developed strong contacts with major businesses and developers over a 30-plus year architectural career. With a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and a master’s from Rice University, he’s won design excellence awards from the American Institute of Architects and the Building Owners and Managers Association.
partner, Carolinas market leader | RSM
Kiehl serves as the accounting firm’s tax leader for the Southeast region and is on the Chicago-based company’s U.S. board of directors. Kiehl is a master’s graduate of UNC Chapel Hill. He joined the firm in 2004 after working for Deloitte in Texas.
executive vice president | Alten Group, XDIN
The longtime executive of XDIN, a Swedish engineering company owned since 2008 by the Paris-based Alten Group, counts Greensboro’s Volvo Trucks as a key client. The company employs more than 200 people in the Triad. He’s a graduate of Sweden’s Högskolan i Halmstad College and Chalmers University of Technology.
vice president | Stantec Consulting Services
Koch, 53, overseas a five-state region with about 15 offices and 600 employees. The 22,000-employee company based in Edmonton, Alberta, is rated one of the world’s best employers by Forbes and Bloomberg. A specialist in highway and rail projects, he has bachelor’s and master’s engineering degrees from N.C. State University.Read More
First job: Nighttime cleaning/janitorial duties for an office building
Employer’s distinction: Everyone from our newest employee to our CEO lives our core values: we put people first, we are better together, we are driven to achieve and we do the right thing. We are a company that ”walks the talk” on important issues. We have inclusion and diversity councils that help us become an organization where every individual is welcomed and valued, and differences are celebrated.
Connecting with our communities outside of work is also encouraged and accessible with flexible work schedules.
North Carolina’s challenge: Recent transportation funding shortfalls have exposed our vulnerability to storm events and the lack of dependable funding, compounded by the drop in gas tax revenue due to the pandemic. North Carolina is a destination on everyone’s radar, so it is crucial that we maintain an infrastructure of water, transportation, broadband communications and energy to maximize our growth potential and promote economic and educational equity across the state.
Proud family accomplishment: While our son and daughter have accomplished much academically and athletically, my wife and I are most proud of their character. They have been consistently called out by other parents, friends and teammates for doing the right thing, being kind and treating others fairly.
chairman | Little
Leading multiple firmwide projects, Komisin, 67, brings four decades of experience specializing in office and mixed-use design. A graduate of Penn State University, he advocates for sustainable design and green building projects addressing policy issues at multiple government levels. Komisin received the Green Building Champion Award and General Excellence in Sustainable Leadership Award for his initiatives.Read More
Best advice: As a young architect almost 40 years ago, I had a big problem on a job site. I was a bit rattled and sought advice from the director of architecture at the firm where I was working. After I explained the situation to him, he leaned back in his chair and lit a cigarette. He took a big long drag, then looked at me with a bit of a grin on his face and said, ”Are they shooting at you?” He had been a paratrooper on D-Day and compared to jumping out of a plane into a hail of machine-gun fire, it really wasn’t such a big deal.
Favorite passion: I’m an oil painter, mostly cityscapes.
Favorite recent book: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. They demonstrate that there is no single style of effective leadership.
Favorite music: ’70s rock
president, CEO | McKim & Creed
Lucey succeeded co-founder Michael Creed as CEO at the nearly 600-employee engineering firm in 2014. He has a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. In October, McKim & Creed acquired Matchpoint Water Asset Management, the largest U.S. water-leak recovery and loss-detection company.
CEO | Pace Communications
Drawn to North Carolina for a bank job, Hunter started a magazine company in 1973. Today Pace produces marketing content for many large companies and ranks among the 200 largest U.S. woman-owned businesses. Hunter chaired the American Red Cross and was an ambassador to Finland from 2001 to 2003.
president | FreemanWhite
The 22-year veteran of the health care-oriented architectural firm has worked on projects including Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and Mission Health in Asheville. A graduate of UNC Charlotte, he became managing principal in 2014, the same year Jacksonville, Fla.-based Haskell bought the business.
senior vice president | HDR
Mosteller oversees operations for the Omaha, Neb.-based engineering, design and construction services company in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. His professional focus is designing and constructing water and wastewater treatment plants, advising municipal officials nationally on optimizing their operations.
president, partner | The Variable
The Variable has won repeated recognition for its growth and innovative marketing by AdAge magazine. Mullen, 41, is a University of South Carolina graduate who became president in 2017. The Variable’s clients include Electrolux, Nestle, Lowes Foods and Duke Health. In 2020, Fast Company included the business on its Top 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators.Read More
Employer’s distinction: The Variable is one of the first companies in the U.S. to organically combine business innovation consulting and award-winning advertising. It allows us to uniquely help clients design and commercialize insight-driven innovation, and then launch and grow it in the market with strategy, creative, social and digital media.
Best advice: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince)
Proud family accomplishment: My wife, Julie, and I are raising four amazingly talented, independent, smart, empathetic daughters.
Favorite recent book: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Favorite music: Hip-hop of the ’90s and 2000s
co-founder | Duda|Paine
Paine, 68, and Turan Duda founded their Durham-based architecture practice in 1997 and are responsible for more than 6 million square feet of projects for clients such as Duke and N.C. Central universities and Kane Realty. Paine is a Syracuse University graduate.Read More
N.C.’s challenge: Having the needed infrastructure to support growth. North Carolina has done the right thing by building the road systems needed for growth. But without comprehensive regional planning and a working relationship between fast-growth counties like Wake, Durham and Orange around light rail and mass transit, I worry that the Triangle — listed as the No. 1 development market by the Urban Land Institute — may fall victim to its own success.
Best advice: When we first started our practice, we met with a developer who asked us, what kind of architectural firm do you want to be? We struggled with how to answer. He explained we should create a firm that, first, played to our passion for design and that, second, built associations with firms with strengths that complemented ours. It helped to form our fundamental approach to architectural practice.
Favorite passion: I’m a big movie fan and always have one or two books I’m reading on my nightstand. I love a good murder novel and am a huge fan of Louise Penny. I also love historical fiction including Erik Larson. Books on management and practice also interest me, and I particularly like Jim Collins and Malcolm Gladwell.
Favorite recent book: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Carolinas managing partner | KPMG LLP
Paradise, 47, is a graduate of Florida State University who holds several leadership positions at the international professional services firm including alumni network partner-in-charge, coastal business unit and hub leader. He also serves as a lead partner and account executive for a variety of clients spanning the Southeast.Read More
First job: Lifeguard
North Carolina’s challenge: Lack of balance. People love North Carolina because it is a great place to raise a family, build a career and enjoy your life. We can’t get so focused on singular issues that we forget being a great place is a complicated web of solutions.
Best advice: Don’t be afraid to do things that make you uncomfortable.
Proud family accomplishment: I have an awesome family with lots of energy. Each member has their own unique passions and personality.
Favorite passion: The outdoors
Decision you would change: I would definitely have taken a gap year during college.
Favorite recent book: Orvis fishing catalog
managing partner, southeast market | PricewaterhouseCoopers
The University of Alabama graduate and 33-year PwC veteran is on the board of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation and YMCA of Greater Charlotte.Read More
First job: While in high school, I worked for a bank showing people how to use an ATM.
Employer’s distinction: PwC’s purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We live out that purpose by bringing our passion for excellence, digital skills and sense of care to our clients and communities.
Best advice: Lead with compassion and invest in the lives of family, friends, colleagues and those in need.
president, CEO | S&ME
The former HDR executive joined the employee-owned engineering and construction services company in 2018. It operates in 13 states and is among the Triangle area’s largest privately held businesses. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from George Mason University.
managing director | Accenture Technology Consulting
Sadowski works as the technology consulting lead for a North American industry team and Charlotte office managing director. She is an MIT engineering graduate.Read More
Employer’s distinction: Our company reflects the human ingenuity of our talented people and their commitment to using technology to deliver value for all stakeholders. We embrace change and continually transform our business to create value.
North Carolina’s challenge: Economic mobility has been a challenge for a long time, and it will only grow as the way we work is poised to change drastically. It will be critical to build skills pathways for people to access technology careers.
Best advice: “Be curious, don’t be judgmental.” (from the Ted Lasso show on Apple TV)
Proud family accomplishment: My husband and our three daughters are all math and science nerds who are passionate about giving back to our community.
Favorite passion: Traveling and exploring with an athletic twist. Our family loves to combine travel with running races, skiing or other athletic endeavors.
Person you admire: My mom, Martha DeWeese, 75. She entered the scientific field of infectious diseases at a time when it was very male-dominated. After a short break to have a family, she returned to her passion as a teacher. She still teaches a full-time course load of advanced placement biology and microbiology classes and is recognized as one of Florida’s best science teachers.
Favorite recent book: The Great Influenza by John M. Barry about the 1917-19 pandemic
Favorite music: Country
Something surprising: Before we moved to Charlotte, my husband and I lived in California’s Mojave Desert while he was stationed at Fort Irwin.
CEO | Sepi
Born in Iran, Saidi founded Sepi in 2001 with two employees and two contracts. The consulting and design firm now employs more than 250. Named Triangle Business Journal’s Person of the Year in 2018, the N.C. State University graduate serves on boards including the State Banking Commission and Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.
vice president | Dewberry Engineering
Skinner joined the 2,000-employee, Fairfax, Va.-based engineering services firm in 2015. He heads urban and land development efforts in the Carolinas. The graduate of West Virginia University previously served as the CEO of Laurel, Md.-based Greenhorne & O’Mara, which was bought by Stantec in 2012.
CEO | DHG
Snow, 57, joined the largest accounting firm based in the South in 2007 after 21 years at KPMG. He became CEO in 2014. He serves on the board of visitors at the business school of his alma mater, Wake Forest University.Read More
First job: Working in a fast-food restaurant. I learned how to deliver a great customer experience, how to be an effective teammate and the benefits of hard work. I made mistakes, but this job taught me how to turn my failures into learning opportunities. The fundamental career skills I learned are key to success in so much of what we do at DHG.
Person you admire: My father is my biggest source of inspiration. He passed away this past year. I admire everything he stood for, including his work ethic, how he valued our family and how he always put others first. He used to say, “You can judge a person’s character by how they talk to someone who can’t talk back to them.” My father taught me to treat others with respect and dignity. If we all did a little bit more of this every day, we could make a great impact on the world.
Favorite recent book: I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. Reading this book helped me step into the shoes of a Black person and recognize the deeply rooted societal struggle, unfairness and inequality in America. This year, DHG has focused on going from “knowing” to “understanding.” I encourage others to read Brown’s book to gain a better perspective of what it is like to be Black in America.
CEO, chairman | Stewart
Since the Colombia native started his company in 1994, the engineering services firm has grown to six offices and more than 200 employees. Stewart, 61, came to North Carolina on a golf scholarship at Western Carolina University and later graduated from N.C. State University.Read More
First jobs: Construction laborer during the day and Kmart stock person in the evening
Employer’s distinction: We are weaving our values into our culture and our operations. Our values spell the word THREAD and stand for Trust, Humility, Respect about how we embrace our people and Excellence, Accountability, Discipline — our business intelligence. These values are spilling over into people’s lives and their communities.
Favorite passion: Heading to Europe with my wife, Sherri, to ride bikes, explore the non-tourist areas and enjoy wine
Favorite recent book: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
senior vice president | Aecom
The N.C. State University graduate oversees operations in the U.S. and Latin America for the Los Angeles-based engineering and construction management company. He received the 2016 Aecom CEO Award for Outstanding Leadership and Performance. Aecom has more than 450 Triangle employees.
principal, co-managing director of Gensler Charlotte | Gensler
Wood leads teams across multiple offices as the co-managing director of Gensler Charlotte. She is also a firmwide client relationships leader with a focus on global financial services firms. A graduate of UNC Greensboro, Wood serves on the board of advisers at the school’s Department of Interior Architecture.