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The Texas A&M University College of Engineering is proud to celebrate with Jim Carman ’00 (bachelor’s and master’s in civil engineering) as he accepts a promotion to senior vice president of commercial development with The Howard Hughes Corporation in The Woodlands. Carman has worked with Howard Hughes since 2012 and has led the team developing the award-winning Hughes Landing, a mixed-use urban center on Lake Woodlands.

The Office of Alumni Relations spoke with Carman to discuss his career and accomplishments.

Jim Carman '00 in front of Hughes Landing
Jim Carman '00 in front of Hughes Landing in The Woodlands | Image: Contributed by Jim Carman

Q: Why did you choose civil engineering and why did you choose to pursue a master’s degree?

A: I took a drafting class in my freshman year of high school and fell in love with the art of engineering drawings. I ended up taking four years of drafting and working with a local civil engineering firm as a draftsman. I knew I wanted to be somewhere in the process of creating buildings, and civil engineering seemed like a great option to provide maximum flexibility on a future career.
In order to complete my undergraduate degree, I received a scholarship that required that I take a minimum of 18 credit hours per semester. By the time I finished, I had accumulated quite a few more credit hours than was required. I was told I could apply some classes toward my master’s degree and get it completed in one year. Admittedly, I wasn’t ready to enter the “real world” yet, so it turned out to be a great opportunity.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: To bring a project to life in our industry, from concept to reality, it takes hundreds of professionals giving their blood, sweat and tears (I’ve been there) to make it happen. To be able to lead these teams, and to see the impact the projects have on the end users is something that is tremendously rewarding. The true value of a project is not in the brick and mortar it takes to build it, but how it brings people together and impacts their lives for the better. My role allows me to be a part of that and to see the end result.

Q: What will being a senior vice president of commercial development look like?

A: Our team is amazing, and we have such a unique responsibility and opportunity to create the places where people live, work and play. My role is to assist the team with strategic direction and to give them the tools they need to succeed.

Q: You are on the executive committee for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Why did you get involved with this charity and how does it relate to your field?

A: I believe as leaders we have an incredible opportunity and expectation to be involved in charitable and community activities outside of the workplace, and to engage our team members in giving back. There are a lot of great organizations to be involved in, but The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is one that really inspired me when I saw the amount of people impacted by blood cancers, including several of our team members. I was honored to be the co-chair with my colleague Heath Melton last year for the Montgomery County “Light the Night” here in The Woodlands. The event brought in over 5,000 people and set a record with $1.3 million raised to fight cancer. Through the help of our partners and team members, I was able to finish sixth in the nation out of nearly 2,000 executives taking part in the executive challenge.

Q: Do you have any advice for graduating engineers or undergraduate students in general?

A: You will have to take some risks in life and in your career, and the best time to do it is in your 20s. Take calculated risks and trust your gut. At work I always wanted to fill every vacuum I could see. If something wasn’t getting done, or someone needed a volunteer, I wanted everyone to always look to me. I can’t ever recall saying, “That isn’t my job” or “I don’t have time for that.” I still feel that way today. Nothing is too insignificant to be involved in, and if someone asks me for help, you can bet I will be there.

Also, I will say that a huge part of my success has been having a supportive spouse. I met my beautiful wife Leigh Ann at the Rec Center at Texas A&M my senior year, and through the long hours, changing jobs, and moving to different states and countries, having someone to share my daily stories and challenges with has been invaluable to me. 

 Q: What else are you up to these days?

We have a 5-year-old daughter, Grace, who is amazing and bleeds maroon. Our family loves to travel and to enjoy our “getaway” place located in Leon County. It’s a rural property that allows me to disconnect for a short time and recharge, as well as teach my daughter about nature and self-sufficiency. We also make time to indoctrinate her with all things Aggie.

From the Office of Alumni Relations

The Texas A&M College of Engineering is proud of our former students, like Jim Carman, who display Aggie core values such as loyalty, selfless service and leadership. If you know an Aggie who is celebrating an accomplishment and would like them to be recognized by the college, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations.