Indian-American engineer Karun Sreerama has been named to head Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering by the city’s Mayor Sylvester Turner.
53-year-old Sreerama, a consistent local political donor, would replace retiring director Dale Rudick as chief of Houston’s USD 2 billion and 4,000-plus-employee operation.
If confirmed by council, the Hyderabad native would start work on April 3 and would also become Houston’s first Asian department director in the process.
Sreerama is a highly respected engineer with 28 years of experience managing multi-million dollar capital projects across the US and abroad. He is a registered professional engineer and holds a doctorate in civil engineering as well as a Master’s degree in business administration.
Sreerama said the organisation – for decades viewed as rigid and allergic to feedback – must improve its outreach and develop a “servant” mentality.
“We can be more inclusive of the people who are actually going to use Public Works’ products and treat them as customers, treat them as the people that we work for,” Sreerama said.
“We can’t sit there as engineers and plan things and then give it to them. We need to talk to them, ask them what their ideas are. I’ll never start an answer with, ‘You don’t understand.’ We are a service organisation,” he added.
Sreerama said he plans to meet with all Public Works staff about his vision for the department as part of a broader, communications-driven plan for his first 100 days.
“Karun has developed an impressive 100-day transition plan,” Mayor Turner said, adding that he will be able to build upon the excellent progress made during Dale Rudick’s tenure.
Sreerama holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Osmania University and a master’s in earthquake engineering for the University of Roorkee. He received another master’s degree in engineering from Cambridge University.
After moving to the US, Sreerama earned his Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, followed by an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.
Sreerama comes to the city from ESPA Corporation where he served as president and CEO.