President, Branch Builds, Roanoke
Cathy Underwood says her greatest strength is her ability to build relationships in the construction industry.
She’s done that while working her entire 22-year career for Branch Builds, a subsidiary of The Branch Group, a Roanoke-based construction company.
As president, Underwood leads Branch Builds’ commercial construction projects across Virginia and in neighboring states.
In 2000, Underwood graduated with her master’s degree in biological systems engineering from Virginia Tech. She thought she would eventually transition into an engineering role but fell in love with the construction side of the business. Ultimately, Underwood landed at the top in 2020.
“I try to show up humble, and I don’t lead with ego,” she says. “I think great leaders allow people to empower those around them to do bigger and better things.”
Many of the men she worked with took her under their wings to help her learn the industry and ultimately advance her career.
Even today, Underwood says she’s often the only woman in the room, but she doesn’t let that bother her.
“I tell women — and men, for that matter — to find a mentor,” she says. “I just believe it’s advisable to navigate one’s career with advocates and mentors along the way.”