News May 10, 2022

Celebrating Linda Fayne Levinson

We’re honoring the impact of our longstanding Director of the Board and trailblazing advocate for women in business, Linda Fayne Levinson.

Linda Fayne Levinson

To understand how Linda Fayne Levinson influenced our world, you must begin with context. Imagine being the only woman in the room 45 years ago.

After obtaining experience in the travel industry and an MBA, Linda was hired into the very first class of women at McKinsey. There were only 15 women hired based out of New York. She successfully maneuvered a male-dominated industry and fostered a potent agility to form working relationships and create success with her peers. By the time she was done, she laid claim to becoming the first woman partner, giving her a place on McKinsey’s Wall of Fame.

From her start as the first female partner at McKinsey, she has held the bar high – aiming to perform with excellence and has served as a prolific adviser sitting on numerous public and private Boards, including Hertz, NCR, Western Union, Clearpath Robotics, AZA Finance, and of course, Jacobs.

Our longest-serving director since 1996, Linda was our first Lead Independent Director and has provided instrumental strategic guidance during our most significant transformational activities. Linda was an inspirational leader and a change agent throughout her time on our board, helping usher in a culture of inclusion and led the CEO search committee, gaining collective agreement with her fellow Board members and the Chair to facilitate the hire of our Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou.

In January 2022, Linda retired from her position on our Board, leaving us with a legacy that advanced women at Jacobs and in our industry.

“If you're not working on something that's driving the company forward, and if every employee can't figure out how what they do ultimately hits the top line or bottom line, then they're not focused on the right things. ”

Linda Fayne Levinson

Linda Fayne Levinson

Jacobs Board of Directors (Retired)

Linda’s key business principles

Linda’s career is grounded in several key business principles:

  1. The customer comes first. Her unfettered focus on delivering to customers began early in her career, in the travel industry, and flourished through her years in consulting, as a board member to several organizations, and as a mentor to many more. Throughout Linda’s career, she demonstrated the linkage from customers to employees to leaders to shareholders. Linda recognized that you must nourish every relationship and person in that connected chain to grow your business.
  2. Talent development is key. Knowing the interconnection between a well-sustained workforce and the success of a business, Linda pushed Jacobs to invest in developing people to retain talent and, ultimately, customers. She valued diversity as a business fundamental and helped drive the value of inclusion at our firm. The result has been an essential shift in our culture to a more collaborative, innovative culture that reflects a broader range of our customer base.
  3. Focus on the business. Linda’s keen eye always looked for the impact of what we did on the top and bottom line. Her attitude: if a decision doesn’t positively impact the health of the business, why do it? It sounds simple, but repeatedly asking the question forced us to consider the most critical aspects of our work and avoid noisy, unnecessary distractions that bogged down our business and diluted our strategy.

Linda applied high personal standards of ethics and integrity to be a champion for good governance. She showed people how to ask for what they want, how to identify the right priorities and how to advance their careers and businesses.

A lasting legacy

“State exactly what you want to accomplish. Most importantly, once you’ve realized an accomplishment, make sure others are aware of what you did,” Linda offered in an interview with our Jacobs Women’s Network (JWN), of which she was an advocate, frequent speaker and guide.

Throughout her own career, as a seasoned executive, investor and non-executive director of both public and private companies, Linda accomplished much to be proud of.  

Her contributions to Jacobs and the larger business industry will be honored by the National Association of Corporate Directors’ (NACD) B. Kenneth West Lifetime Achievement Award. Awarded annually, the Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a director whose distinguished boardroom service throughout their career best exemplifies the characteristics modeled by the former NACD CEO for whom the award is named. Honorees are recognized for their dedication to effective leadership, their improvement of corporate governance, and the demonstrable impact they have had in their communities and throughout their boardroom service to public, private or nonprofit entities.

Linda will be honored, among the 2022 NACD Directorship 100 — the most influential peer-nominated leaders in the boardroom and corporate governance community — at the NACD Directorship 100 Gala, a black-tie event being held on June 22 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

Additionally, we recently marked Linda’s induction to Jacobs’ Hall of Fame, where she joins the honorable Dr. Joseph Jacobs, Noel Watson and Gary Mandel. The Hall of Fame Award celebrates those who have walked our halls – guiding, mentoring, listening and leading along the way – and in the process, shaping a company like no other. The journeys of these profound individuals have left an indelible mark on our business and our people through the meaningful, impactful leadership provided during their tenure and now, they are celebrated with a lasting virtual Wall of Honor display in our Dallas headquarters office.

As another mark of Linda’s impact, a group of women leaders at Jacobs created a video to pay tribute to what Linda has inspired as a Board member. The video was submitted along with her nomination for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Watch below.

Linda Levinson tribute video with burned in captions.mp4

Inspiring sustainable innovation for tomorrow

In addition to her contributions at the board level and with Jacobs Women’s Network, Linda also was the first appointed Sustainability Sponsor and supported the PlanBeyond Steering Committee. To celebrate her retirement and contribution to innovation at Jacobs, we recently launched a new challenge to continue her legacy and inspire big systems thinking for the future.

The Linda Fayne Levinson Sustainability Innovation Challenge is a unique,  new annual innovation fund, to build upon the amazing innovative ideas Jacobs’ teams across the organization are already thinking about, aligned to our hero brands Beyond If and PlanBeyond.   

The fund will be awarded to one or more ideas that have the potential to make the greatest positive impact in addressing the climate crisis and/or maximizing sustainable outcomes.

Thank you, Linda.