Colleague Interview

A conversation with Michael Cuevas, Partner

Michael Cuevas is a Partner in our Miami office. He is a registered Professional Engineer with more than 25 years of experience on complex and challenging projects. Michael comes from a family of carpenters, which he attributes to his familiarity with construction and structures. It was an easy and natural choice for Michael to gravitate towards structural engineering.

We spoke to him about his background, how he and his team drive change in the industry and what he enjoys doing outside of the office.

Tell me about your background.

I’m a civil and structural engineer who dedicated the first 15 years of my career to designing buildings such as hospitals, offices, schools, theaters, manufacturing facilities, and many other types of structures. Subsequently, I started the second phase of my career by becoming a forensic engineer, evaluating damage to existing buildings and structures. These evaluations have included damage due to design defects, construction defects, wind, earthquakes, floods, fires, explosions, construction activities, and vehicle impacts, among others. I have performed these forensic evaluations for the past 11 years in support of litigation, construction disputes, and insurance claims.

What do you think has been the reason for your success?

There are several reasons for my success, but the most important are:

  1. Work Ethic – My parents are some of the hardest-working individuals I know. They instilled that work ethic in me through example. Working hard and giving an honest effort in everything you do is still very underrated. It is an important attribute for success and one that does not go unnoticed by clients.
  1. Challenged and Competitive – I get bored easily, which makes me navigate to challenging work. Structural engineering and working in disputes where other experts are opposed to you in a high-stakes environment is very challenging.

How do you and your team drive change in your industry?

Our goal is to provide our clients with incredible value. We take the time at the beginning of an assignment to understand what questions we need to answer for our clients. Then, we try to go above and beyond to provide those answers by:

  • Putting in the work to gather information, assess, analyze, process, and conclude. If you cheat the process, you’ll most likely miss something and make a mistake.
  • Providing technical reports that are easily understood by all while having the technical information and rationale required to support our findings.
  • Overcommunicating. If a client calls us to ask a question or request an update, we have failed.
  • Being honest. Honesty is the best policy, especially when it seems that you will not benefit from it.

What was a project you were involved in that stood out to you / are you most proud of? 

I worked on an $800M claim in Argentina early in my forensic career, where I was the only Spanish speaker. Initially, I was just one of the engineers on the team. Still, my role grew to one in which I was responsible for the team and the work product across all disciplines (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, civil, structural, cost estimating, and scheduling). It was a considerable challenge, fun, and a learning experience all at the same time.

What advice do you have for aspiring claims consultants? 

At HKA, you’re often involved in multiple projects at once, and your team’s deliverables change constantly, depending on your client’s needs and the ongoing development of any review. Being organised is critical. I stick to the basics of project management by always understanding what we need to achieve and understanding your team’s strengths in each aspect. Open communications with your team members go a long way in forging good team dynamics and allow for early dedication to stumbling blocks that can be better managed. This allows for a less stressful environment for your team and better results for your client. 

What is something about you that might surprise people?

I was the first person in my immediate and extended family ever to attempt to attend a college/university. It’s important to note that I have over 50 cousins! I placed more pressure on myself to graduate because I knew that if I succeeded, it would show my siblings and cousins that they could take a similar path.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Staying healthy, running, cycling, and exercising are my passions. I also love to travel and most recently visited Colorado. I enjoyed spending time in beautiful country and mountains with my wife, hiking at the Garden of the Gods, visiting Red Rocks Amphitheater, and driving up Mount Evans, above the clouds.

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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