TZL 1368 (web)



Better together: Erin Inman President and CEO of Primera (Chicago, IL), a mid-size, full-service, woman-owned engineering design and consulting firm.


I nman joined Primera in 2003 where she was tasked with building a power delivery team. Since joining the company, Primera has more than doubled in size and her mission is to maintain a culture of growth through empowerment. “When I started my career in engineering, there were not a lot of women in STEM, so I’ve always been passionate about helping to change that,” Inman says. “I’m humbled to have mentored a number of women who have gone on to leadership positions in other companies and even started their own firms. I’ve also been active in numerous organizations that support women in engineering and joined the Advisory Board for Girls 4 Science when it was just getting started.” A CONVERSATION WITH ERIN INMAN. The Zweig Letter: You purchased the company from the previous owners in 2016. What was the main impetus for doing that? What was involved in the decision- making process?

Erin Inman: I joined Primera in 2003 because I loved the entrepreneurial spirit and the focus on quality at the firm. The former co-founders Michael DeSantiago and Pedro Cevallos-Candau empowered people to learn, grow, and lead. I knew that this was the kind of company where I could make a difference. This is the same inspiration that continues to drive me today and that drove me to buy Primera. When the founders started planning for their retirement, there was obviously talk of what came next. As the utilities division manager and part of the executive management team, I took part in that conversation. I took a lot of pride in the division we had built, and I was interested in taking that over completely. I talked to Michael and Pedro about purchasing my division, but they did not want to split up the company. There were offers from large firms, but after some discussion they were not planning on keeping the company together, so they asked if I would be interested in buying the whole company. I had a passion for Primera and a belief that I could help take it to the next level. After discussing it with my husband and doing some research on the feasibility, we decided I could


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