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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Steven R Donahue


Horner & Shifrin, Inc.

Location: Saint Louis, MO

Founded: 1933

Industry: Civil Engineering

Steve Donahue’s rise at the company he now leads started when he was appointed office manager in the company’s new O’Fallon, Illinois, office in 2002. With Donahue’s guidance, Horner & Shifrin Inc. quickly grew into a “major factor in the engineering world throughout southwestern Illinois,” the company said.

Over the next decade-plus, Donahue showed his project management skills on several key initiatives, and he was chosen to be president of the company in 2016, the youngest president in the 90-year history of the firm.

“Beyond the obvious traits of being intelligent and a good communicator, which are commonly thought of as leadership skills, leaders need to have empathy to understand the feelings of others,” Donahue said. “Respect for others is also very important as we must show regard for the thoughts and ideas of others.”

Since Donahue became president of Horner & Shifrin in January 2016, the ESOP stock price and profit more than doubled. During his tenure, the firm opened offices in Chicago, O’Fallon, Missouri, and Bentonville, Arkansas, and H&S has been named a Top Workplace by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for the past six years.

“A good leader is constantly cultivating the next generation of people under them. For an organization to be successful in the long term, there must be a constant supply of leaders ready to step up as the company evolves,” he said. “Finally, courage is also an important trait and perhaps the most difficult. Leaders must possess courage to make decisions which are in the best interests of the organization, even if those decisions are unpopular.

Donahue was a finalist for the Vistage Leadership Award at the recent Vistage Executive Summit in St. Louis. In 2022, Donahue was given a Distinguished Service Award for his service on the Board of Directors of ACEC-Illinois. He was recently featured on “The Civil Engineering CEO” podcast, where he talked about his career progression and what has helped him to succeed along the way.

In 2009, Donahue was given a community service award from ACEC-Illinois for his service as a volunteer firefighter in the O’Fallon, Illinois, Fire Department. In 2008, the fire department honored him with the Firefighter of the Year Award. Donahue has served the department for almost 20 years and currently is a captain, volunteering hundreds of hours each year to train and respond to incidents.

Donahue has also returned to the University of Illinois, his alma mater, to speak to students about engineering.

Presented by:

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Did you know?

Steve has served as a volunteer firefighter on the O’Fallon (IL) Fire Department for almost 20 years and currently serves at the rank of Captain, donating hundreds of hours each year to train and respond to incidents.


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