Exec Thrives on Building and Biking

Beneath its gritty surface, the construction industry is quite glamorous and very complex, says Michael J. “Pete” Piechoski, B.B.A. ’76. Each project brings “new problems and new opportunities,” explains the senior VP and CFO for the $10 billion Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc.

Piechoski loves problem-solving with Kiewit’s 30 district managers and often visits job sites, from dyke rebuilding in New Orleans to oil and gas projects in northern Canada.

He also relishes team-building and training, “putting the right people in the right chairs and then making sure the people underneath get moved to as many chairs as they can to round out their experiences.”

Piechoski has sat in his share. He even recalls a summer inventory job counting coconut heads at a Miami airport novelty shop. His UM accounting degree in hand, the southern New Jersey native first joined Arthur Andersen in Philadelphia and then earned an M.B.A. at Arizona State and moved to Illinois to become international cost manager at Abbott Labs, a job that enabled him to see the world.

Arizona beckoned again when Piechoski and wife Jeri decided to start a family. In 1983 he began at Tanner Companies, later acquired by Kiewit. In 1999 he was called to Kiewit headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

These days, Piechoski is focused on giving back. He’s a motivational speaker and serves on the boards of United Way of the Midlands, the Omaha Community Foundation, and the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation. “I assure you that last has nothing to do with athletic prowess,” laughs Piechoski, though he enjoys kayaking and bicycled from Vienna to Budapest last summer.

When time allows, he also hits the road on one of his five Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including one detailed in ’Canes colors.

That school spirit comes easily to Piechoski, whose son Bradley is a UM engineering student and daughter Alexandra is a Kiewit engineer.

He credits the enthusiasm of his UM business professors with helping to steer him from pre-med into a field he truly embraced. “I was off and running,” he says. “Never looked back.”

Nancy Dahlberg