Our Founding Month: Catching up with Michael Baker International’s Presidents Q&A with Kent Zinn, P.E., S.E., President, Infrastructure

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5/16/2024 1:32:04 PM

May is Michael Baker International’s Founding Month. Over the past 84 years, our firm has established a strong tradition of Making a Difference, and we have evolved and grown to ensure we make an even greater impact for future generations. As part of our Founding Month celebrations, we caught up with each of the Presidents of our five distinct Verticals - Infrastructure, Design-Build Services, Federal Programs and Services, Consulting and Technology Solutions (CTS) and Sustainable and Resilient Solutions (SRS) – to discuss Michael Baker’s past, present and future.

Today, we speak with Kent Zinn, P.E., S.E., President, Infrastructure. In this role, Kent leads our Infrastructure Vertical’s growth efforts, which includes investing more resources in pursuing and winning large infrastructure projects, expanding into new markets and geographies, and partnering with clients.


Michael Baker: What is a significant change that you’ve seen at Michael Baker during your career here?

Kent Zinn: I started my career at Michael Baker in the fall of 1994, shortly after receiving my Master of Science degree in Structural Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Over the next 30 years, I have witnessed our firm’s exponential growth from 20 or so offices to more than 85 locations across the country. With the expansion of our footprint and headcount, we have also been able to broaden our capabilities and services to bring greater value to our clients.

We have reached new heights thanks to lots of hard work from the talented people who make up our Wolf Pack, as well as our company making smart investments and having a growth mindset.  


Michael Baker: What is an important trend happening in our industry where Michael Baker can have a major impact in the future?

Kent Zinn: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a much buzzed-about topic across many different industries – and engineering is no different. AI has the ability to change how engineers plan, construct and manage projects, while increasing efficiency and sustainability.

Michael Baker is partnering with Microsoft Copilot to offer AI capabilities to all our employees.  Furthermore, our Data Analytics and Automation team is working to optimize, improve and expand our existing services through innovation, automation and analytics. As AI in engineering grows more sophisticated, we will continue to refine how its application best benefits our clients and projects, while finding the right balance between automation and the human factor to increase efficiency.


Michael Baker: What advice do you have for our fellow Wolf Pack members as we continue to write new chapters in our company’s legacy of excellence?

Kent Zinn: Put forth your best effort, learn from your mistakes, strive to continuously improve and take pride in your work.  Always care for your clients and have a forward-looking growth mindset.


Michael Baker: What are the biggest opportunities for Michael Baker this year?

Kent Zinn: Michael Baker’s Wolf Pack is the strongest it has ever been – and our offerings more diverse. With our current momentum, we have the opportunity to bring home substantial new project wins – particularly with the increasing number of mega-projects being greenlit nationwide.

At the same time, we are always looking to welcome new talent and ensure that our staff is developing personally and professionally. Delivering outstanding service to our clients goes hand-in-hand with providing our people with fulfilling careers. Our Wolf Pack Philosophy – that we are stronger together – is top-of-mind. We can build upon our company culture’s solid foundation and further drive our culture of excellence.


Michael Baker: ‘What’s Next’ for your vertical?

Kent Zinn: Looking ahead, we have a strategic vision for Michael Baker’s growth across our five Verticals and numerous Practices. By having a national approach to our business development, we are ensuring that we are working across geographies and Practices to bring the best resources to our most strategic pursuits. To fuel this growth, we will look to add more key talent across our organization.


Michael Baker: Tell us about a “Making a Difference Moment” that exemplifies how our Wolf Pack is Making a Difference for our company, our clients and/or our communities.

Kent Zinn: At Michael Baker, we live by the credo of “We Make a Difference.” This extends beyond our own back yards to halfway across the world.  Each year, we partner with Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) to sponsor the construction of suspension bridges in isolated parts of the world, creating better access to economic, educational and health care opportunities. Earlier this year, we sent a team of nine colleagues to successfully construct a 157-foot-long suspended footbridge to enable safe crossing over the Mukebera River in Rwanda, Africa.

The Kabira 3 trail bridge will provide safe, year-round access for the surrounding communities, providing opportunities to empower the local communities out of poverty. The completed bridge exemplifies how We Make a Difference for communities in need.

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