Cowan is the long-suffering treasurer (since 1982) of the Atlanta Area
Section. In his spare time, he serves as a contracts agent in the Corporate
Contracts Department of The Southern Company.
Dave was born and raised in Atlanta, where he earned a B.S. in Building Construction from Georgia Tech in 1974 and an MBA with dual concentration in finance and management from Georgia State University in 1981. Upon graduation in 1974, Dave gained hands-on construction experience when he joined Blount Brothers Corporation as a Job Manager. When he joined Hardin International in 1978, he was assigned as Assistant Project Manager on the Georgia Power Headquarters Building. Dave and Georgia Power must have liked each other as he’s been with Georgia Power or its parent company, Southern Company, for nearly thirty years!
After earning his MBA in 1981, Dave got his start in project controls as a Senior Project Scheduler/Planner on pulp and paper mill construction projects before joining Georgia Power Company in 1983 as a Construction Analyst. His tenure with Georgia Power/Southern Company included an assignment in 1985 while on loan from Georgia Power to Southern Electric International in New South Wales, Australia, consulting on methods of outage planning and scheduling.
Dave joined AACE International in 1982 and is a Certified Cost Consultant (CCC, 1983), encouraged to pursue this by Association former presidents Dan Elliott and Mike Horwitz, and also passed the Alabama Engineer-in-Training Exam. He also serves on the Board of Directors of YMCA Camp High Harbor and is a past member of Buckhead Toastmasters International Club where he has served as president and was awarded the Toastmaster of the Year Award two times. Dave also serves as a mentor in the Georgia Tech Mentorship Program where he has mentored (tormented?) Georgia Tech students for the past eight years.
Dave is married to wife Judy (25 years) and they have two college-aged daughters. You may have also run into Dave if you’ve ever heard the Rockdale Baptist Church band where he plays guitar. He also plays in another jam band playing classic rock music.
Dave piqued my interest with some of his answers, and I decided the best way to communicate what he had to say was in a typical interview format:
[BK] “What’s the most interesting vacation or other trip you’ve ever taken?"
[Dave] “Bill, one of the most interesting vacations I have taken was on my honeymoon with my wife. My wife and I went to London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam on our honeymoon. I had been to London, Paris and Amsterdam before on a foreign study tour while in graduate school. My wife had never been out of the U.S. before our honeymoon. She was a UGA journalism graduate, and I knew that both London and Paris would be very special for her. I arranged the trip so that we would fly each leg of the trip on the national airline of the country we were flying into (British Air, Air France, Air Italia and KLM) to get more of a flavor for each country."
[BK] “Tell us more about your trip to Australia—hope you had a chance to see the sights, visit other countries nearby (tell me you went fishing in New Zealand), etc."
[Dave] “I was part of a three person consulting team that was invited to go to Australia to consult to the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, the government-owned electric utility. Each of us had an area of expertise to investigate, one person in power plant management, another in power plant maintenance, and my area was methods of outage planning and scheduling. We were based in Sydney, where the Electricity Commission is based, and traveled to numerous facilities throughout New South Wales, which covers the southeastern part of Australia.
“The Commission had told us that they knew they had numerous problems and that they had been told that they had five years to resolve them or the Electricity Commission would be privatized. Our main contact in Australia was a gentleman by the name of Douglas Swain. It was obvious that Douglas was very proud to show off his country to us in the way he planned the trips we took within his country. For example, he arranged to take us by his six seater corporate airplane by different routes on our various trips, specifically to show us the beauty of the country. On one trip he flew us up the coast so we could see the beauty of the Australian coastline, and then on the return trip back to Sydney he arranged to drive us back over an inland route so we could see the beauty of the forests and terrain (I remember one forest that honestly resembled something out of a child’s fairy tale book).
“At one point during our stay, his plane was knocked out of commission for a short time after hitting a kangaroo during take off and bending the prop. Kangaroos in Australia are very plentiful and somewhat of a nuisance, very much like deer are here. We appreciated his interest in giving us this very interesting exposure to his country. At the end of our stay, the Commission offered each of us a nine month contract to come back to Australia and to delve deeper into solutions for them. They said they would be happy if three, two or even just one of us would accept this contract. Each of us declined as being halfway around the world for that long was not attractive (they offered to let us bring our wives/family, but that was not attractive either).
“The flight over from Los Angeles to Sydney was at that time (and still may be) the longest scheduled commercial non-stop airline flight in the world. On the flight over, however, due to excessive headwinds we ran short of fuel and had to land in Fiji for a short time to refuel.
“During the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, I worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG). I was on loan from and paid by Georgia Power. After learning of my assignment in Australia, ACOG assigned me to be with the International Olympic Committee member from Australia, Phillip Coles. They gave me a new ACOG BMW for a month and an unlimited gas card and told me to take Phillip anywhere he wanted to go for the month leading up to and during the Olympic games.
“Phillip was a great individual and asked me at the onset if I wanted to just take him around, or if I wanted to go with him into the various Olympic events that he attended. He explained that he would go to a lot of different Olympic events and that as an IOC member he would be invited to many parties put on by certain countries’ Olympic delegations as they tried to entice IOC members’ votes to host future Olympics in their country. I told him, “Heck yes, I wanted to go into the various events and parties he went to with him".
“As a result, I was fortunate enough to attend most of the medal events of swimming (Phillip was the gold medal presenter at one of these events), most of the medal events of men’s and women’s gymnastics, some Australian basketball games, the Australian Olympic team party at the Georgia Tech Olympic village, Australian women’s volleyball (I suggested this one to Phillip…) and numerous other events. Phillip introduced me to his friend Prince Albert of Monaco at one of the parties that he took me to. It was especially exciting for me to see the Georgia Tech campus from the inside during the time that it was the very secure Olympic village.
“This was an experience of a lifetime, and was a direct result of my experience of having gone to Australia."
[BK] “Tell us more about the Toastmaster of the Year Award."
[Dave] “Bill, I was a member for many years of the Buckhead Toastmasters International Club, the largest Toastmasters club in Georgia. I am also a former president of that club. I was awarded the Toastmaster of the Year award two times during my membership in Toastmasters, which essentially was the award for excellence and service."
[BK] “And finally, just how many candles are there on the cake, Dave?"
[Dave] “Not enough!"