Looking to the future: Akshai Ramakrishnan

Apr 14, 2024

JQ, now IMEG, a team of professionals providing structural and civil engineering, geospatial and facility performance services within a diverse group of markets.

JQ, now IMEG (Dallas, TX) – an award-winning Texas-based structural and civil engineering services firm – is a founding sponsor of Zweig Group’s ElevateHER® program because leadership is passionate about creating a culture where everyone feels represented and aims to support groups that focus on those efforts.

“It’s important to maintain engagement of upcoming generations and the ElevateHER® program helps us learn how to improve our recruitment and retention efforts,” Akshai Ramakrishnan, principal of the firm’s buildings structural group, says. “We’re honored and privileged to be a part of this journey with a group of individuals who are passionate about the AEC industry and who recognize the need to recruit, retain, and elevate women within our industry.”

Learning from the past; looking to the future. Ramakrishnan spent four years in the forensic and evaluation field prior to developing his skill set in design and construction services for various public and private projects. He says he’s “progressed through the ‘farm system’” so to speak.

At JQ, now IMEG, he most values the one-on-one client and employee experience. The company focuses on complete building design rather than singularly limiting its view to the structure or site only.

“I believe this is where we filter down to a handful of consultants who excel in that mindset,” he says.

Since being in a leadership position, he says the greatest lesson he’s had to learn the hard way is figuring out how to perform as a manager while transitioning his thought process on how to engage with others. He says that many early struggles which took place when transitioning from a project engineer, to a project manager and then to a resource manager and office lead resulted in some personnel turnover. He attributes this to his limitations in adapting or setting expectations differently from how he traditionally performed prior duties.

“This caused me to evaluate how I engage with my team members in group settings and one-on-one, as well as how to maintain balanced expectations among staff to increase their reliability on each other. Each of us has built-in strengths and weaknesses, so it took a while for me to acknowledge my own limitations in order to change how I interacted with team members,” he says.

As a result of lessons learned, he’s heavily dedicated to mentoring upcoming people managers to reset their philosophy from “follow how I do things” to instead leaning toward accommodating independent thinkers and developing trust on how a differing approach can still be beneficial.

“This is a passion of mine because my focus in the workplace has always been toward enjoying the company you keep and not considering the people around you as cogs to increase company profitability or a manager’s own self-promotion,” he says. “As everyone knows, you don’t have much of a culture if you’re surrounded by a group of ‘mini-me’s.’”

To date, one of his greatest project challenges had to do with a higher education client. JQ, now IMEG, was tasked with supplying early structural packages for a large building that had several various complexities to accommodate building isolation joints, large volume spaces, and sequencing for maintaining project schedule. Despite going through some coordination challenges, the construction manager at-risk claimed that JQ, now IMEG, was responsible for close to $1 million in change orders and/or increased requirements.

“I had to wear my ‘lawyer’ hat and successfully challenged how we provided documentation over the course of the project and handled our responsibilities to address each of the items they claimed,” Ramakrishnan says. “At project closeout, it was determined that we were not responsible for any of the claims. It was stressful at the time, but I was relieved the project turned out a success, and we didn’t get branded with a scarlet letter at completion.”

Moving forward, Ramakrishnan is focused on developing more collaborative, contractor and owner-aligned projects, so that there are fewer bureaucratic pitfalls and less contention regarding where responsibility lies.

Cultural tenets. Overall, the culture at JQ, now IMEG, aligns with their mission statement: “Achieving excellence in pursuit of a better community.” Its cultural tenets are:

  • Chart your own course.
  • The challenge should be fun.
  • Our work is our reward.
  • Quickness is a virtue.
  • Progress is our passion.
  • All are welcome and all contribute.

Ramakrishnan is happy to be part of a culture and company that places high priority on supporting social causes and its employees. Whether it’s working against the clock to meet a deadline, giving back, or kicking back, making time to lead meaningful lives is at the core of everything it does. 

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.