This article is part of our series Builders at Heart, where we highlight the passions and backgrounds of the Clark team — the things that shape us — that allow us to tackle challenges head-on, solve complex problems, and build what matters.
Meet Kristopher Ernandez, a project executive for Clark Water.
Tell us about your background.
I was born and raised in Jamaica. I moved to the United States when I was 18 years old to pursue a bachelor’s degree in architecture at Howard University. Upon graduating, I worked as an architect and pursued a master’s in construction management at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
What type of project are you currently working on? What are your responsibilities?
I am currently a project executive managing a portfolio of wastewater treatment projects for Fairfax County at the Noman Cole Treatment Plant in Lorton, VA. My responsibilities include general oversight of owner relationships, project progress, and our project teams.
What brought you to Clark?
I interviewed for a position in Clark’s Water Group in 2016 and was intrigued by the opportunities to grow my career at Clark. There was a vision of growing the group, and I wanted to be a part of that!
What led you to pursue a career in the construction industry? Any early experiences that influenced your career path?
After working for an architecture firm, I realized I preferred the building process more than the design process. This experience led me to a career path change and inspired me to pursue my degree in construction management.
Who have been your strongest influences in life?
My mother. Growing up, I witnessed the numerous sacrifices she made for my sister and me as a single parent.
What do you like most about working at Clark?
The innovative culture. The company leaders are change advocates. Whether it’s finding ways to improve its people through training and development opportunities or pursuing the most challenging projects, Clark is always adapting.
What are you most proud of accomplishing, either personally or professionally?
The work that I do on water projects daily. It’s not the most publicized work, but it is essential to society.
What advice do you have for someone looking to start a career in construction?
Be open-minded, willing to learn, and take advantage of any opportunity that is presented to you.
Why are you a builder?
I am a builder because I love seeing a project go from an idea to a physical building. I enjoy the everyday challenges and problem-solving that occurs as we work together to deliver these amazing projects. There is never a boring day in this business!