Charlene A. Wheeless is principal vice president of global corporate affairs for Bechtel Corporation, a major global engineering, construction, and project management company. Charlene is responsible for global communications, issues and reputation management, sustainability, stewardship, and public affairs. She serves on the company’s ethics and knowledge management committees, as well as the boards of the Bechtel PAC and Bechtel Group Foundation.
Charlene was recently named by PR Week magazine one of the 50 most influential PR professionals in the industry, for the third consecutive year. This year, she was also named to the PR Hall of Femme, the PR Global Power Book, and the 2017 National Journal “25 Influential Black Women in Business.” Earlier, she was named a “Woman Worth Watching” by the nationally known Profiles in Diversity magazine, and a “Women Who Mean Business” honoree by the Washington Business Journal.
Bechtel Corporation is the title sponsor of Dream Big, a film which aims to educate the general public about the inspiring work that engineers are doing worldwide. Dream Big: Engineering Wonders of the World will premiere in 3-D IMAX® and giant-screen theaters worldwide in February 2017 and will be designed to inspire youth in grades K-12.
Dream Big: The Huge-Screen Engineering Experience
If you just look at some of the numbers, we’re producing fewer engineers, and that’s a problem for the future. But you have to engage this new generation that’s coming through in a different way. So the producers put together this film with ASCE, the American Society of Civil Engineers, as a way to attract students to engineering. As an engineering company, we are of course very interested in growing the next generation of STEM talent. But beyond that, I think that STEM talent will fuel future generations and impact all aspects of society, and we really wanted to be a part of that.
How Bechtel Supports Future Engineers
Dream Big showcases the amazing work that engineers do around the world, and from the start the producers connected with leaders in the engineering world, like Bechtel…We also are very proud of the fact that for 25 years Bechtel has played a key role in creating and growing DiscoverE, which was previously known as Engineers Week…Bechtel is very supportive, obviously, of the need to improve our infrastructure and we’re really pleased that there’s ongoing dialogue about the need to update our infrastructure and to take action. So that’s very exciting for us as a company, but also for us as citizens.
Growing Awareness of Infrastructure
While infrastructure is not a daily conversation—at least it didn’t used to be—I don’t think that Americans don’t focus on it. I think that we’re faced every day with infrastructure issues: if you think about our roadways, our bridges, buildings, our power plants, they all fundamentally affect everyone living in the country. We might not talk about it daily, but certainly it’s something we care about. I don’t know why it is suddenly at the forefront, but I’m very happy that it is.