Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Arrives

For committing to sustainable energy

Jonathan Kadishson has worked in 200-year-old cities, on freezing mountaintops, in remote deserts. It is a hallmark of the energy business to be out in nature, and then to bring the fruits of that work to where people work and live. 

But Kadishson is going beyond that. As the energy sector is buffeted by change and disruption, his proudest efforts have been in battling climate change through renewables projects. Today, at Burns & McDonnell, the global architecture, construction and engineering firm, he manages a 25-member team working on a US$2 billion portfolio of energy projects, including the first curbside electric vehicle charging stations in New York City. Earlier in his career, he worked on the development of Israel’s first natural gas distribution network. 

“To be a project manager, you need to be a leader,” he says. 

Serving in the Israel Defense Forces’ Combat Engineering Corps, says Kadishson, taught him a lot about leadership and the value of working alongside troops rather than barking orders from on high. He says the same goes for a project environment: “A leader must always be ready and willing to get in the trenches with the team. Get the right people on your team, and put your team’s needs ahead of your own.”

Without rock-solid communication, “nothing gets solved,” he adds. Being open to new solutions is imperative. “Young people coming into project management are really good at working collaboratively. They also show amazing motivation to continue learning.”

“A leader must always be ready and willing to get in the trenches with the team. Get the right people on your team, and put your team’s needs ahead of your own.”

Q&A: Jonathan Kadishson on the future of automation and Elon Musk 

What’s the one must-have skill to succeed in The Project Economy of tomorrow?

All the skills that project managers need today will still apply tomorrow. The difference will be that technology will play a growing role in project delivery. Project managers might not need to be coders, but they’ll need to understand how to work with coders and understand their technology from a project management perspective. Over the next decade, we could see partial automation of certain project functions like scheduling, and AI could continue to change the design and construction of projects.

What famous or historic person would you want on your project team?

Elon Musk. His creativity and hard work are an inspiration. In terms of historic people, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and the theoretical physicist Richard Feynman have always impressed me with their creativity.