As a teenage lifeguard and competitive swimmer, Doug Cook never thought much about a career in pools. In fact, it wasn’t until around 1997, almost four years after he’d graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in civil engineering, that an unexpected phone call from a headhunter introduced him to the possibility of aquatic design and engineering as a profession.

Thanks to that call, he joined the team at Counsilman-Hunsaker, one of the nation’s leading aquatic design firms. Now a partner in the St. Louis-based company, he is helping to shape the future of the organization, and move the industry forward through smart design.

A licensed professional engineer in 34 states, Cook has developed a number of state-of-the art facilities, and completed perhaps more high-end competition venues than any other industry professional. These include aquatics facilities at the University of Tennessee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Limerick (Ireland) and Purdue University.

“Working with a community is different from working with a university,” Cook explains. “Communities have different stakeholders that all want to see their desires and goals met.”

Cook, was raised in Peoria, Ill., with a brother who was also a swimmer. He became a partner at Counsilman-Hunsaker eight years ago, and says over the years he has watched the industry mature. As an engineer with business experience and an MBA from St. Louis University, he’s played an active role in that process. Along the way, he’s provided valuable insights and information on everything from new equipment to industry economic trends, and as a speaker at various industry events.

Now 41, Cook hopes to stay with Counsilman-Hunsaker for the rest of his career; but whatever the future brings, you can bet he will be leading with the same combination of technical know-how, business sense and passion that has served him well so far.