Bob Pragada: ‘Employers should learn and celebrate different backgrounds’

To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the Dallas Regional Chamber caught up with Bob Pragada, CEO of Jacobs, to get his perspective on AAPI influences and representation in the Dallas Region. Pragada is a passionate advocate for inclusion and diversity and intensely proud of his Indian American heritage.

Bob Pragada, CEO of Jacobs and DRC Board member

Pragada joined Jacobs in 2006 and over time he has held several senior management positions before being appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2019, then CEO in 2023. In his early career, Bob was the first Indian American to graduate from the United States Naval Academy. He then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps for nine years where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Pragada serves on the DRC Board of Directors and served as Board Chair in 2022.

What Asian American and Pacific Islander figures have had the biggest influence on your life? Why do you look up to them?

Without a doubt, the biggest Asian American influencers throughout my life are my mom and uncle. Their incredible work ethic inspired and influenced me to achieve everything I have to date. They always put other peoples’ lives and wants ahead of their own, and their inner quality of wanting to give back to America continues to shine through after all these years.

What are the biggest challenges facing the AAPI community? What can employers do to help their AAPI leaders excel professionally?

Broadly speaking, the United States is still learning that – similar to Europe – every country within Asia is extremely different. Therefore, Asia has a lot of different cultures that need representation. Employers should learn and celebrate the different backgrounds of all their Asian employees. At Jacobs, we do this through our One World Employee Network, which provides an inclusive environment that actively nurtures, supports, and celebrates our diverse employees and clients across all ethnicities and cultures.

Please share some Dallas Region-based AAPI-serving organizations you support. Why do you support them?

I support the U.S. India Chamber of Commerce DFW and Jacobs’ One World Employee Network to be an ally of all ethnicities and, specifically through the chamber, those with Asian American backgrounds similar to mine.

What would be the title of your autobiography? Why?

“My American Dream” – I lived and continue to live it!