Building & Earth is pleased to announce it has promoted Jeff Cowen, P.G., P.E., to president. Cowen, a founding partner of Building & Earth, has held a multitude of positions within the company throughout his tenure, including chief geotechnical engineer, Birmingham branch manager and executive vice president. Prior to his appointment as president, Cowen was chief operating officer.
Cowen will assume the position from Deepa Bhate, chairperson and chief executive officer of Building & Earth. He will be responsible for implementing the policies and procedures that align with the strategic vision, as well as provide oversight for corporate services, such as human resources and accounting.
“I have always been very impressed with the fact that Cowen has the innate ability to produce a high quality of work quickly under tremendous pressure,” Deepa said.
Cowen graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1982. He started his career as a technician for a geotechnical firm. Over his first 4 years at the firm, he learned the business from the ground up. His duties expanded from general technician duties to working with the geotechnical drilling crews, carrying out deep foundation inspection and completing general site work troubleshooting.
Cowen earned his engineering degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 1992, through a program that allowed him to work full time and attend classes at night. Cowen passed the professional engineer (P.E.) exam the same year.
After 15 years at a Birmingham-based firm, Cowen joined Deepa and Robert Adams as a founding partner of Building & Earth. The company saw unprecedented growth over the first 5 years, including the hiring of over 100 employees. As the business began to mature, Cowen was promoted to executive vice president in 2004. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2007. Cowen has been heavily involved in the financial performance and initiatives to streamline cost throughout the history of the company.
“Early on, Cowen said that if we feel a task is very important to our success, we need to make one person fully responsible for it,” Deepa said. “Using this strategy has been greatly beneficial to the company’s growth and performance.”
Deepa has held the position of CEO and president since 2004. It is now in the company’s best interest to split these positions, so that more focus can be given to strategic development initiatives and to provide leadership and guidance to meet the changing business climate. Deepa will continue to provide oversight and guidance as the CEO to direct leadership and business development and ensure the company’s core principles and values are upheld.
“I have great confidence in Cowen’s ability to take big-picture ideas, break them down and bring them to fruition,” Deepa said. “He has the ability to take a vision and figure out how to accomplish it; and being president will give him more time and freedom to put strategic initiatives into play.”
Deepa said she hopes to move Building & Earth ahead by leaps and bounds with Cowen’s promotion.
“Deepa has had the vision to guide us through both good times and bad, and has taken our company to great heights. My hope is that, by providing leadership to our branches and corporate services, it will free Deepa from the daily operations to allow [greater] focus on the strategic initiatives that will lead us into the future,” Cowen said. “I appreciate the confidence placed in me, and as John Lennon once said, I sincerely hope to pass the audition.”