xml:space="preserve">
Mike Smith, webmaster at civil engineering firm RK&K, cleans oyster cages at the Inner Harbor as part of a volunteer effort with the Waterfront Partnership. Company employees come out to the harbor twice a month to help clean the oyster cages and have been volunteering with the project for the last two years.
Mike Smith, webmaster at civil engineering firm RK&K, cleans oyster cages at the Inner Harbor as part of a volunteer effort with the Waterfront Partnership. Company employees come out to the harbor twice a month to help clean the oyster cages and have been volunteering with the project for the last two years. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

With its headquarters in Baltimore and more than 25 branch offices across the United States, RK&K is known nationwide for its planning, engineering design and construction management. Its projects are as diverse as highway designs, bridge replacements and plans for stadiums and hospitals.

But there’s more to being a successful company — with successful employees — than technical expertise. That’s why RK&K focuses on professional development, job flexibility and work/life balance, employees say.

Advertisement

In 2015, RK&K launched its Career and Leadership Program, an initiative that teaches employees team building, communication skills and development of personal relationships.

“If you’ve been hired to work at RK&K, technically, you’re strong,” says John Rinehart, manager of the program. “But what else is there that we can do to help you be successful in your career?”

The Career and Leadership Program includes an online library, online classes and webinars, and in-person instruction. For example, the company holds technical writing workshops and even started its own Toastmasters club to teach public speaking skills.

This year, RK&K announced a new project management certificate course developed in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. The online course, which includes 28 hours of instruction, is for current project managers or employees who may become project managers in the near future, Rinehart says.

“With our input, we’re getting the best of our experience combined with the experience and instruction level that Hopkins brings to it,” he says. “It’s the instructors from their Applied Physics Lab hopefully reinforcing all the great things we’re already doing but also pointing out some things maybe we could try to do differently.”

Another way RK&K supports its employees’ professional development is its women’s leadership forum.

“This women’s leadership forum is an opportunity for all women in our company, not just engineers, to have a place to be empowered, learn skills.”


Share quote & link

“It’s no big news that there aren’t that many women in engineering,” says Lori Magoon, RK&K’s manager of structures. “This women’s leadership forum is an opportunity for all women in our company, not just engineers, to have a place to be empowered, learn skills.”

Magoon began working for RK&K 27 years ago. When she started, the firm had about 200 employees. Today, it has more than 1,400. About 500 of them work in Baltimore.

“It’s grown a lot, but we still have a family feel to it,” Magoon says. “We still have a lot of people here from the early days, and a lot of people who leave come back. That’s one of the reasons I’ve never had a desire to go anywhere else. Everything I would want in a company I’m getting.”

Highway engineer Mike Zierhoffer joined the firm in 2018 after graduating from Clemson University.

“It’s such a big company," he says, “but it still feels small because you get to know all these other people, what their role is and what projects they’re working on.”

Rank Company Founded Ownership Sector Locations Employees
1RK&K LLP1923PartnershipEngineering & planning1512
2KCI Technologies Inc.1955PrivateEngineering4511
3Charlestown Retirement Community Inc.1983NonprofitRetirement Community11247
4FutureCare1986PrivateNursing care163000
5Sandy Spring Bank1868PublicBanking41771
6CACI1962PublicInformation technology11441
7Whitman, Requardt and Associates LLP1915PartnershipEngineering & consulting2438
8WPM Real Estate Management2005PrivateProperty management2452
9ClearOne Advantage LLC2008PartnershipDebt collections1599
10Lockheed Martin - Baltimore1929PublicDefense & aerospace1449
11Anne Arundel Health System1902NonprofitHealth care73545
12University of Maryland, Baltimore County1966GovernmentHigher education11918
13Aerotek1983PrivateStaffing4664
14Kennedy Krieger Institute1937NonprofitPediatric Rehabilitation232557
15Patient First1981PrivateHealth care15596
16University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center1965NonprofileHealth care112564

One of Zierhoffer’s latest projects is the design and extension of the express toll lanes on Interstate 95 north of White Marsh. He says because the work often crosses over into RK&K’s other specialties, he is constantly picking up new skills.

“Almost every day feels like professional development because you’re going back and forth between all these other disciplines, learning new stuff about how the drainage people and stormwater management people come up with their designs and how they calculate what they do and don’t need,” he says.

In addition to learning from his colleagues and the training RK&K provides on site, Zierhoffer says he appreciates the company’s flexibility. In 2018, the former college soccer goalkeeper tried out for the Baltimore Blast — and made the indoor team. He recalls telling his boss the news.

Advertisement

“This first thing he said was, ‘That’s awesome. If you’re confident you can manage your time enough to get done what you need to get done and do both, by all means let’s go for it,’” Zierhoffer says.

RK&K partner Melinda Peters also was on board.

“As soon as I said it, she said, ‘Stop right there — you’re doing this,' ” Zierhoffer recalls.

This fall, he has entered his second season with the team. Zierhoffer’s typical workday begins at 6:30 a.m. He leaves RK&K around 9 a.m. to head to soccer practice. He returns to RK&K around 1 p.m. and stays until at least 6:30 p.m.

“There’s no way around it — my days are long,” he says. “But being here makes you love engineering and what you do every day because you’re solving these cool problems and interacting with people that are enjoyable to interact with. You find these things you love, and then your work day goes by like the blink of an eye.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement