Colleague Interview

A conversation with Caryn Fuller, Partner

Caryn Fuller is a Partner in HKA’s Houston office with 24 years of professional experience in engineering and construction project management, project controls, and construction claims analysis. She has provided claims analysis and management consulting services on large-scale global construction initiatives focusing on cost control, scheduling, and reporting.

In 2020, Caryn was recognized by the Houston Business Journal as an honoree for the Women Who Mean Business Awards, and she is a board member of the Rice Global Engineering and Construction Forum and the Energy Industries Council. Her published work includes articles addressing challenges within the oil and gas industry and the impacts of COVID-19 on the construction sector.

Tell me about your background.

I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After I graduated from college, I went into the construction industry. I started as a project engineer for Whiting-Turner in Boston, where I focused mainly on office buildings, managing concrete and steel sub-contractors. I left Whiting-Turner in 2002 to work for Clark Construction as a project engineer at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. I assisted with managing all of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) subcontractors and gained an extraordinary amount of experience. I was then transferred to Chicago in 2003 as a project engineer for the McCormick Place expansion. I supported the MEP department director and was in charge of renovating the security command center in one of their existing buildings. I was then promoted to project manager for a major 60-story high-rise managing all exterior skin trades. I left Clark and moved to a competitor from 2009-2012, working mainly on claims for KBR, Inc. (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root). I left in 2012 for KBR, and I started off as the project controls department manager in their Chicago office but was transferred to Houston and promoted to senior project controls manager on a major fertilizer project. I started here at HKA in 2017. I have a construction and engineering background with hands-on, boots-on-the-ground experience, which gives me the foundation I need to work on the types of claims I handle today.

What drew you to engineering in the first place? What were some of your major influences?

I always loved math. Growing up, I was drawn to solving problems and doing puzzles, which led me to the career path of an engineer. Also, my grandfather was a Professional Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) during World War II. He was stationed in Tunisia, working on infrastructure design. After the war, my grandfather had his own civil engineering consulting company. He worked as a technical expert for an insurance company and also designed warehouses, stores, and university buildings.

He enjoyed driving my sister and me around to see some of the stores he helped design that were still under construction. Our little excursions always ended with a trip to Baskin Robbins. He gave me all of his slide rules, which I still have. I also went to an all-girls school in Dallas growing up, and they were really good about helping students follow their passions. I took AP classes and other advanced classes in math and science, and I got great mentoring from my teachers from a young age, which definitely helped push me to where I wanted to be.

What do you feel is the driving factor for your success?

I’ve always been a very focused, diligent person. I always want to do better and learn from my past experiences. My background of working with different trades has led me to become an expert in my field because I have the practical experience of being on a construction job site. The projects that I get here at HKA and the way they are structured have really helped me grow and advance my career.

What does a typical day look like?

I work with clients and counsel in an advisory or claims support role on all different types of projects to help them navigate the issues they are facing, either through developing improvements or diving deep into project issues in the dispute resolution process. As the Partner who manages the Houston office, I help our people on a personal level or mentor them because I want them to grow their careers and be excited about working and gaining experience.

How do you feel that you and your teammates drive change in the industry, from a broad perspective but also as a woman in the construction industry?

When I started in the industry, there were very few females. I’ve always been driven, so I’ve never let anybody’s gender get in the way of my dreams. I never let anyone intimidate me, and it gave me more of a drive to succeed because I wanted to prove that I could be as good, if not better, than somebody else who would be doing my job. I also went to an all-girls school, and we were taught to follow our dreams without allowing gender to get in the way of anything, and I had very supportive parents. Also, at the beginning of my career, I asked to be mentored by a female in a leadership position so I could learn from her about what she did to succeed, and I followed some of her guidance.

At HKA, we have more women than many other companies, especially in the expert field. As a leader in the company, I mentor other women who aspire to become a partner at some point in their careers. I give them the same advice I received and the knowledge I’ve gained from my own experiences so they can build their careers. HKA allows women to succeed and be exposed to different clients, attorneys, etc., who see that we are qualified and the right expert for the job. I also do a lot of speaking engagements. I’m a board member of the Rice Global Engineering and Construction Forum and the Energy Industries Council, and I serve on the Executive Council for the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, which exposes me to the broader community.

What are some of your passions or hobbies outside of work?

My passion is my family. Outside of work, I really take that time and spend it with my family and my children. I don’t want them to see that I’m always working. I don’t want to miss out on them growing up, and I want to support them at school events, recitals, and games. I want to be a role model for them and show them that women can be leaders in our industry.

What is something surprising that people might not know about you?

I used to live in Belgium as a kid. My dad worked for IBM and was transferred there for four years. I loved living in Belgium; it was incredibly safe, and we could travel to different countries and experience different cultures and places.

Where are your favorite places that you’ve traveled?

As a kid, I really enjoyed Ireland. It was so beautiful, and where my grandmother was from, so it was nice to see her heritage. As an adult, I really love Saint Kitts. It’s where my husband and I were married, and we just took our kids there to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday (which are on the same day!).

What is your favorite movie or TV show?

The Goonies! I watched it so many times as a kid, and it always makes me laugh and brings me back to my childhood. It’s one of those movies where if it comes on, I have to sit down and watch it.

If you want to find out more about joining HKA, contact to arrange a confidential discussion or visit

Ryan Amaya, Recruitment Manager, Americas

This publication presents the views, thoughts or opinions of the author and not necessarily those of HKA. Whilst we take every care to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication, the content is not intended to deal with all aspects of the subject referred to, should not be relied upon and does not constitute advice of any kind. This publication is protected by copyright © 2024 HKA Global Ltd.


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