Anas Riyal, PE, CCM
“Working with a talented team of individuals who are professional, caring, and respectful has been the most rewarding aspect of my job.”
- Construction engineer.
- Husband and father of three daughters.
- Arab American Association of Engineers and Architects (AAAEA) Executive Board member.
- University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) graduate.
- Chair of the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Chicago Chapter Owners’ Forum Committee.
- Member of the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA) Construction & Work Zone Safety Committee and Equal Opportunity/DBE Committee.
- Avid 5K runner.
This is Anas Riyal, PE, CCM. With more than two decades of engineering experience and a multicultural background, having grown up in Nigeria and Jordan before landing in the U.S., Anas knows that diversity is an essential ingredient in a company’s success.
We asked Anas a few questions to get to know him better:
Tell us about your experience in the construction engineering industry.
I’ve worked in the construction and inspection field for about 23 years, initially as a construction engineer assisting with a multi-million-dollar bridge reconstruction project and currently as a resident engineer overseeing a $45 million highway reconstruction and widening project for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
What brought you to Gannett Fleming?
A college friend, who also happens to be a Gannett Fleming employee, alerted me about a resident engineer job opening with the firm. After learning how great a company Gannett Fleming is, I did not hesitate to make the move. I’m so glad I did because now I’m here overseeing a large, complex project with a fantastic supervisor who has created a comfortable working environment and is very supportive of advancing my professional growth.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities.
As a resident engineer in our Construction Services Corporate Business Group, I’m responsible for the coordination of all required field inspections to ensure the project is built in accordance with contract documents. I also manage materials testing, document all activities pertaining to the execution of the work, and prepare reports, pay estimates, and other required documents. I utilize the latest technology to solve problems, increase project efficiency, and provide value to our clients.
How does the firm support your professional development and career growth?
Gannett Fleming encourages participation in professional organizations to increase networking opportunities, offers training to improve job performance, and assists in applying to sit on industry committees. I’m also a part of the firm’s Connected Relationships™ Mentoring Program, which provides a chance for both mentors and mentees to grow in their careers.
What’s the most interesting project you’re working on right now?
The I-90 Kennedy Expressway Westbound Reconstruction for IDOT. This major project consists of 2.5 miles of reconstruction, widening, and resurfacing of the existing mainline pavement. With an average daily traffic count of more than 200,000, this expressway is one of the busiest in Chicago due to its proximity to O’Hare International Airport. When complete, the work will reduce travel times and significantly improve traffic safety on the expressway—at the current average, a crash occurs every 36 hours.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Working with a talented team of individuals who are professional, caring, and respectful to one another.
What’s one professional achievement you’re especially proud of?
Earning my Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation in February 2021 was a unique and unforgettable experience. The exam was administered remotely due to COVID-19. Due to a technical issue toward the end of the 4-hour exam, my entire exam packet was lost, and I was instructed to retake the exam six weeks later. Having spent a substantial amount of time studying initially, I had to prepare again, and thankfully, it was submitted successfully the second time with a passing result.
What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
Do not rush your decisions. Be patient, listen, and understand the facts.
When did you realize you wanted to work in the construction engineering industry?
During my sophomore year of college at UIC, I was debating between a mechanical engineering and civil engineering degree. When I compared the courses, it was clear that a focus on civil engineering aligned with my love of mathematics and structures.
Why is it important to have diversity around the table when working on AEC projects?
I grew up in Nigeria around different cultures, religions, and ethnicities and then spent my high school years in Jordan before arriving in the U.S. at the age of 16. These experiences have shown me that having diversity around the table is an essential part of a company’s success. The more diverse the project team, the more innovative the ideas.
April is Celebrate Diversity Month. Why is it important to celebrate this holiday, and what can AEC firms do internally to educate employees on diversity and create a stronger sense of belonging?
Companies will gain and retain happier employees if they feel their unique backgrounds, cultures, and traditions are recognized. Firms can develop diversity training to help employees understand how cultural differences can impact how people function in the workplace. Another option is to acknowledge various religious and cultural holidays, and Gannett Fleming does a great job with both!
Could you tell us about your involvement with the AAAEA?
I currently serve as the chair of the Activity Committee for the AAAEA, Illinois Chapter. In this role, I’m responsible for hosting multiple events each year to help our members succeed and advance in their professions. I also serve on the executive board, which oversees the operations of the organization, handles all administrative duties, and coordinates all the chapter’s activities.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Running 5K races and playing soccer.
If you’re willing to share, please tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my beautiful wife, Mariam, for 23 years. We have three lovely daughters, Tulene (21), Tala (14), and Mira (11).
What’s your favorite family tradition?
Every year, we host the entire Riyal family, consisting of about 50 individuals including kids, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, or “Festival of Breaking Fast,” at the end of Ramadan. We serve a variety of middle eastern dishes, and it’s an exciting time for our children because gifts are exchanged like the Christmas holiday.
What’s the best piece of personal advice you’ve ever received?
Be patient, be patient, be patient. Good things come to those who wait.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Despite my daily work responsibilities, I am a shy person. I prefer to do things behind the scenes!
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose and why?
My friend living in Aspen, Colorado. I would love to spend a summer day biking along the river and watching the beautiful sunset at one of Aspen’s highest mountain peaks.