AECOM’s Alabama leader Cynthia Borders Crutchfield
These familiar and maybe unfamiliar landmarks have something in common:
One World Trade Center in New York. Los Angeles International Airport. Abu Dhabi International Airport. The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York. Spring Hill Manufacturing (hint, it’s the original Saturn manufacturing plant south of Nashville);
The impressive, recently constructed Woodrow Wilson drawbridge between Virginia and Maryland. The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. AT&T Stadium. You know, the Dallas Cowboys?
Then there’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the official home of the Atlanta Falcons, going up next to the Georgia Dome. That will be the venue for this year’s college Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Sept. 2 between Alabama and Florida State, to be followed by Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game II on Sept. 4 between Georgia Tech and the Tennessee Vols. The 2017 SEC Championship Game will be there. And if that isn’t enough, the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship will be held there Jan. 8.
All of these projects, and others were designed, built, financed, or managed by Business Council of Alabama member AECOM, pronounced A-E-Com, is an international engineering firm providing management, design, construction, and consulting services to private industries and government. The publicly traded company headquartered in Los Angeles employs about 87,000 men and women, grossed $18 billion last year, and operates in 150 countries. It is one of the world’s largest infrastructure companies delivering across every sector in the economy – transportation, defense, and energy.
It’s been named one of Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for the three consecutive years.
Award-winning AECOM also did the masterplan for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“We won an international competition to design the Games masterplan, which included three stages: Games, transition and legacy,” AECOM’s Alabama leader Cynthia Borders Crutchfield said. “We created a lasting legacy, leaving behind new homes, jobs, and places for leisure activities. Rio is well positioned for economic growth. When we say we are “built to deliver a better world, we really mean it!”
It has 11 locations in Alabama including in Huntsville where it supports the Army, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, and other organizations such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
AECOM and its heritage companies have been a trusted partner for decades in the region and are creating long-term, high-paying jobs to help the Alabama economy.
“We have 800 people in the state of Alabama, primarily focused in Huntsville and Enterprise where we support Redstone Arsenal, but also in Birmingham, Mobile, and Anniston, as well,” said Crutchfield, AECOM’s senior vice president of strategic initiatives, mission readiness, management services.
AECOM provides facility operations and maintenance support – water, sewer, etc. – for NASA. It’s a contract of $267 million to cover 4.6 million square feet of floor space.
“That’s a huge footprint for us, just over 200 people,” Crutchfield said. “With safety being primary in our company’s culture, one of the things we like to talk about is the team’s superior safety record of performing more than a million hours of service with no recordable injuries.”
During an interview, Crutchfield proudly discussed AECOM’s role in Alabama and her progression from one of eight siblings growing up in Montgomery, to graduation from Alabama A&M University.
Crutchfield was a computer science major in 1980 before computers were cool. She progressed through various civil service positions with the U.S. Navy and Air Force. After leaving the civil service, Crutchfield continued to serve the DoD in private industry supporting technology oriented companies in delivering DoD intelligence and national security services.
She returned to Alabama almost four years ago to lead AECOM’s efforts in the construction, logistics, and maintenance markets.
“The thing that’s different with AECOM is the design, build, finance, and operate (DBFO) model, which allows us to support clients throughout a project’s lifestyle, whether it’s master plans for cities or providing technology solutions, developing infrastructure, roads and bridges, and energy solutions,” she said. “We can support our clients from start to finish.
“We have decades of trusted partnerships here in Alabama and across the U.S. government and a strong record of delivering for our clients,” she said. “Where I sit, our focus is on supporting national governments, although we do have some commercial clients. Anything to do with federal government, pilot training, and also some technical projects like software or operating infrastructure, we do. We’re a fully integrated firm.
In Huntsville, Crutchfield’s challenge is to ensure AECOM brings all its services to bear especially for new projects such as President Trump’s plan to improve infrastructure.
“With the planned trillion-dollar investment, I think we’re in position to help cities,” she said. “We are definitely interested in engaging and making sure that Alabama is well-positioned to secure its fair share of the budget allocation, particularly with all the expected growth in Huntsville.”
It’s not all Huntsville. If you’ve gone through Army helicopter flight training at Fort Rucker in the last 27 years, you were first trained by an AECOM instructor pilot.
“We have almost 400 down in Daleville and Enterprise,” Crutchfield said, “and have trained, over time, over 30,000 pilots. As the Army transition to the UH-72 Lakota platform, we are meeting the demands of training the students in the new cockpit.”.
AECOM developed an image generation product (X-IG) to enhance the students’ training experience through simulation. “This product is currently operating at FSXXI in Daleville,” Crutchfield said.
In Mobile, URS/AECOM (a subsidiary) is the architect and engineer of record for the $90 million federal courthouse. And AECOM’s engineering team worked with BCA-member Turner Construction Co. on the FBI center at Redstone Arsenal.
Two years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers announced the award of a $1.5 billion contract to AECOM and others to design, install, and operate energy savings projects at military installations.
Crutchfield has received numerous performance awards; a President’s Award for Program Management and was received a Woman of Color Information Technology All-Star Award.
Her career began after college graduation as a civilian with the Navy in Indiana. She transitioned to then-Gunter Air Force Base in her hometown, moved to Los Angeles, ran a security program for the Pentagon, and stayed in the Washington, D.C., area for 23 years, with both the government and private industry.
Crutchfield relocated to Huntsville with URS – United Research Service – that was later acquired by AECOM, focusing on defense work.
“We do a lot of hard projects others may not want to try,” she said. “They are very complex projects and from a safety perspective, extremely high-risk but we always take those on.”
So, what’s next? Crutchfield’s hobbies include scrapbooking and collecting porcelain dolls. At some point, she said, she will venture out with her own business – a bridal salon.
But right now, experienced in design and developing systems, program management, project management, profit-and-loss, Crutchfield’s goal “is to make sure we can deliver to our clients and our shareholders,” not to mention bidding on contracts and successfully performing them.