In this episode, I talk with Paul Axtell about something all engineers are involved in, which is meetings. Not just the “M-word”, these are the individual and team interactions that make projects happen, and Paul provides us with some great take-aways you can use to take your meetings from ordinary to extraordinary.
In episode 101 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, which is the third episode in a 3-part special series focused on preparing us for the Global Engineering Congress 2018, I am bringing you with me to the offices of Mott MacDonald to sit down with Global Sustainability Leader Davide Stronati. Get ready for a great conversation around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how civil engineers can tactically support the achievement of these goals.
Here are some of the questions I ask Davide:
- What role does a corporate, or strategic, sustainability managing director play and what responsibilities do they hold?
- What is the primary outcome, with regards to GEC18, that you wish to see?
- From a civil engineering perspective, what does sustainability mean to you?
- What does your role as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Sustainability Leadership Team Chair entail?
- What is your call to action regarding the SDGs for civil engineers listening to this podcast?
Here are some key points discussed on the UN SDGs and the ICE Global Engineering Congress:
In episode 99 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I talk with Dr. Marlene Kanga, who is the current President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO) about the business of engineering for sustainability. This is the second episode in a 3-part special global sustainability series that will both introduce you to and focus on the Global Engineering Congress 2018, taking place October 22nd through 26th in London at the Institution of Civil Engineering’s (ICE) Headquarters.
Here are some of the questions I ask Dr. Kanga in this global sustainability episode:
- This is the Federation’s 50th anniversary — what does this mean to you both professionally and personally?
- What was it that drew you to WFEO and has kept you so actively involved over the years?
- As WFEO encourages national and international members to collaborate in their contributions to solving global problems, what role do you see diversity playing in this effort?
- Why is the WFEO event important to the civil engineering profession, and what do you think should be one of the main takeaways from this event?
- What do you feel requires the immediate attention of the engineering profession’s resources to attack and to solve?
- Who are the typical attendees at one of these Global Engineering Congress events? What advice can you provide on how a participant should best prepare to come ready to actively participate in the event?
- We’ve been talking about the sustainable development goals, what other roles does WFEO play on behalf of the engineering profession?
- How do you keep your professional diary straight and know where to focus your mental energies?
Here are some key points discussed in this global sustainability episode:
In this episode, you are going to listen in on a conversation between me and Joshua Plenert, MBA, MS, PE a licensed professional engineer who’s an expert in applying Lean and Six-Sigma concepts to the architectural, engineering and construction industry. As a structural engineer practitioner himself, he’s not only theorizing about what he talks and writes about – he’s putting it to practice in his work, which you will learn more about in this episode.
Here are some of the key points discussed about Lean Six Sigma concepts:
Every A/E firm talks about delivering stellar client service and many deliver to that mark. Why? Well, before I can provide my opinion let’s set the definition for what constitutes stellar client service.
From my foxhole, stellar client service = responsiveness, collaboration, and establishment of crystal clear expectations. Without these three elements, you will certainly not develop stellar anything, let alone client service.
Thirty years ago, I learned what delivering stellar client service was as a bus boy, then as a waiter, in a posh restaurant. We in the A/E industry can learn a lot from the hospitality industry when it comes to client service and “delivering an experience”. From my time servicing clients on two-tops, then four-, six- and eight-tops, I learned how to gauge what our guests (i.e. clients) wanted and when. How to read body language, how to interact with the guests to establish rapport beyond a transactional relationship, and how to ensure they left with an experience, not just a meal.
In short, I learned how to turn eating into an experience. I also learned that when it’s done correctly, your fees (i.e. tips!) go up.
Delivering stellar client service in the A/E industry requires engineers to transform the technical act of engineering services from the technical stuff many clients don’t understand (or want to), into an experience. This is much like the transformation of eating dinner from a biological requirement into a memorable experience.
The 6 Ingredients for Stellar Client Service
In this episode, I talk with Eric Wright, Ph.D., PMP, CPD about the benefits of earning the project management professional certification (PMP) for military members transitioning out of the service looking to become a project management leader. Eric gives some great tips on planning, leading, organizing, control, actions impact, and also explains the importance of soft skills and creating future value not only for yourself, but for clients as well.
Here are some of the key points discussed in today’s episode on becoming a project management leader:
In episode 094 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, which is 4th episode in our 5-part series on infrastructure, Chris Knutson interviews Kate Harris, President, and CEO of Stanley Consultants about harnessing innovation in engineering leadership. Kate gets into future trends of the industry and how we can prepare for them. She also discusses public- and private partnerships, an important aspect of infrastructure projects.
Here are some of the questions asked of Kate Harris on Harnessing Innovation in Engineering Leadership:
- You left university with a degree in quantity surveying. Did it prepare you for where you are today, CEO and President of an A/E firm?
- What were some of the notable milestones in your career which indicated that senior leadership positions might be a real possibility?
- What do exceptional A/E firms get right?
- Can you give advice to young professionals looking to work better with clients and improve their communication skills?
- What changes have you witnessed during your 25 years in the civil engineering industry?
- What are your thoughts on private/public partnerships?
- How do you decide what the most important task to work on is for any given day?
- Share with us your thoughts on how an engineer can approach looking at the future?
Here are some key points discussed in this episode on harnessing innovation in engineering leadership:
- Having a degree in Quantity Surveying gave me an appetite for creative problem solving and build-ability.
- Throughout my career, I have tried many new things to get a broad view of our industry. I feel that this is important in trying to understand what matters to people. When you can understand what is important to other people, you will understand what questions to ask them.
- Exceptionally good A/E firms understand that business success is in servicing clients and client experience. We need to be partners in terms of harnessing innovation in business thinking, management skills, giving advice, and we certainly need to be technically capable and creative.
- It’s very important that companies understand what they are bringing to their clients, and not just what they are bringing to their constituents and their shareholders.
- The key to working with clients is to listen actively to what they need, and to not just concentrate on what you want to say next.
- We are all going to have to look to the future and figure out what the word “value” will mean tomorrow, rather than what it means today.
- It’s not so much about what we know in our industry, it’s about what we know in our world, and what is going on outside of our industry, that is important for young engineers to know. Young engineers should get curious, be fearless and get educated on what is happening outside of the field.
- Being technically competent without the ability to inspire others limits you in your career as a leader. A leader needs to be able to identify and support great talent. If you are planning on becoming the chief engineer of your company, you need to learn how to communicate with others in a way that inspires them to follow their dreams.
- The key to communication is not what you want to tell people, it’s about figuring out how people assimilate information and what matters to them. You then have to allow them to understand what you are telling them. To do this, you need to change your style to match the way they think and listen.
- It’s absolutely fundamental for project managers to know what success looks like for a business, and not just for a project.
- Your job as a CEO is to find great talents, set direction and provide support. You need to carve out time to do all three of these things to be successful in your career.
- Connect, communicate, listen and be very curious as an engineer.
More details in this episode…
About Kate Harris
Kate Harris, President and CEO of Stanley Consultants, has 25 years of international experience in the construction, engineering and consulting industry. Stanley Consultants provides engineering, environmental, and construction services at over 30 offices worldwide. Founded in 1913, the firm has completed engagements in all 50 states and 110 countries, and is ranked among the largest engineering companies in the United States – very impressive.
Kate Harris graduated with a First-Class Honors degree in Quantity Surveying from the University of the West of England in 1993. She has also completed the Advanced Management and Intellectual Property programs from Harvard. Harris has a broad range of contractor, client and consultant experience encompassing strategy development, risk management, building high performing teams, developing client relationships and profitably growing businesses. Most recently Harris provided board and executive advisory services following her global Commercial Officer role with MWH Global (now part of Stantec). During her 17-year tenure with the firm, she is credited with integrating service lines and setting global policy, performance measures and business practices. An active advocate of talent development, she continues to mentor upcoming generations of leaders.
This episode is brought to you by RedVector. The team at RedVector believes knowledge is the most powerful tool available for helping people enrich their lives and meet their professional goals. To find out more about RedVector continuing education, visit www.RedVector.com.
This episode is also brought to you by Danfoss. Smart energy systems, efficient buildings, and raising construction sites are just a couple of areas where you can experience how Danfoss is part of the sustainable development of strong infrastructure, visit www.city.danfoss.com
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below on harnessing innovation in engineering leadership.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success
In episode 093 of The Civil Engineering Podcast, I talk with Professor Lord Robert Mair about important factors around preparing civil engineering for the future. Professor Lord Robert Mair is an Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at Cambridge University and the current President of the UK Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
This is the first of a 3-part Global Sustainability series that will both introduce you to and focus on the Global Engineering Congress 2018, taking place 22 – 26 October 2018 in London at the Headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineering.
Here are some of the questions I ask Lord Robert Mair:
- For our audience outside the U.K., please tell us a little bit about the Institution of Civil Engineers.
- What is your strategy for preparing civil engineering for the future?
- What are your thoughts about the future of infrastructure delivery?
- In October of this year, the Global Engineering Congress will take place at ICE’s headquarters in London. Why is this event important to the civil engineering profession?
- What role does civil engineering play in furthering the achievement of their associated goals?
- How did you become interested in tunneling and underground construction?
- What has been the most challenging project you’ve worked on and why?
- What are the impacts you would like to see civil engineers today strive towards leaving for the engineers celebrating the 400th anniversary of ICE?
Here are some key points discussed on preparing civil engineering for the future:
One thing that is certain to happen in your engineering career is conflict. This isn’t because the engineering profession is more prone to conflict than accounting or that engineers tend to be a contentious lot. It’s because, as in any profession, you’ll find people. Wherever there are people you will find conflict. Because of this, it’s important to develop a basic understanding of the three things you need to know to engineer resolution.
Project managers spend the vast majority of their time communicating with others. Depending on the source you reference, the figure can go as high as 80 percent of one’s time is tied-up in some type of communication. A good amount of this time is spent in external communication: the client, the architect, the design team, regulatory officials, vendors, and others. That’s a lot of stakeholders, however, the majority of the time you will invest elsewhere – in team communication. How you approach team communication is by far the most important thing you will do as a project manager.
Effective Team Communication Enables Successful Projects
Think about the teams you’ve served on thus far in your personal or professional time. Some were successful, others not so much. If you spend time considering why success was achieved in certain teams over others, I suspect you’ll find team communication played a role.
Over my career, I’ve served on many teams. Those teams that achieved the best successes by and far enjoyed stronger team communication. The team leader set expectations, maintained open and transparent lines of communication, and encouraged the same across the team. They also were proponents of the Rule of Three C’s – communicate, communicate, communicate.
I attribute the rule to an Air Force Chief I worked with when I was junior captain many years ago. A week didn’t go by where I didn’t hear “captain if you want to be more effective in getting everyone on board you need to communicate, communicate, communicate!”. He was on to something – the teams he led were always the best in the squadron and more often than not, the best on the base.
The take away is that effective team communication enables successful projects. If you foster an environment of open and transparent communication with your team, you also are providing an environment that will enhance the likelihood of project success. Without effective team communication, you greatly reduce the likelihood of project success.