Engineering Influence from ACEC
Thursday Oct 17, 2019
Engineering Influence sat down with David Cohen of Matheson Financial Advisors at the 2019 annual ACEC Fall Conference in Chicago to talk about one of the most pressing issues in the engineering industry today: ownership transition.
Wednesday Oct 16, 2019
Engineering Influence welcomed Jennifer Horne, a QBS policy expert at ACEC California to discuss the importance of QBS in hiring consulting engineers.
Tuesday Oct 15, 2019
Engineering Influence sits down with ACEC's Business Insurance Trust - one of the organization's secret weapons for its membership.
Monday Oct 14, 2019
Engineering Influence say down with Keller Rinaudo, the CEO of Zipline, a company with a bold, yet simple goal: to deliver medicine to those who need it most in areas of the world that lack the infrastructure to get it there. Zipline delivers life saving medicines via drone in developing countries - using technology to save lives.
Monday Oct 14, 2019
Engineering Influence sat down with Erik Peterson, ACEC Oregon's National Director and Principal at Peterson Structural Engineering to discuss the importance of ACEC membership for firms engaged in the private marketplace.
Monday Oct 14, 2019
Engineering Influence sat down with ACEC's Women in Leadership Group at the 2019 Fall Conference in Chicago. The group discussed current trends in diversity and inclusivity at ACEC and in the engineering industry and the challenges that exist in creating a diverse engineering workforce.
Friday Oct 04, 2019
Welcome to the second episode of the Chairman's Corner - a quarterly program featuring the ACEC Board Chair, Mitch Simpler. In this episode, Mitch discusses the upcoming ACEC Fall Conference in Chicago and the recent FIDIC Conference in Mexico City. Transcript: Host: Welcome to the second episode of the chairman's corner, a quarterly series featuring current ACC Board Chair, Mitch Simpler. The “corner” provides ACEC's chairman with an opportunity to give him a platform to update everyone on what's happening at ACEC. Mitch, welcome back to the show. Mitch Simpler: It's a pleasure to be back. Thank you. Host: Well, we're only days away from the 2019 fall conference in Chicago. What are you looking forward to most at the event? Mitch Simpler: Well, I'm pretty excited about the conference for many reasons, but to me, I think the single biggest step for me and for ACEC will be the unveiling of the new and extremely exciting strategic plan. We have made so many key staff changes as well as structural changes to the national organization, all for the best benefit of the member organizations and the members at whole and at large. This conference now gives all the member firms and the member offices an opportunity to see this new organization at work. And the unveiling of the new strategic plan will give us an opportunity to put that team to test. And it's really, for me, it's very exciting. The whole thing. Host: Yeah, that's definitely going to be an important moment because it's something that is going to be very important of course in the years to come because the way that the industry is changing and the way that ACEC has to evolve to meet the challenges of representing the engineering industry as the industry itself evolves. Mitch Simpler: Yeah. And I think with the structural changes that we've made and the new staff and the new leadership at ACEC National, we are really taking a much more forward-looking perspective from the standpoint of the organization. And the strategic plan will allow us to be able to take that forward as well. Host: Now at the conference, of course, one of the things that we're promoting a lot are the speakers. Of course Robert Costa from the Washington Post is going be the headlining speaker and he's going to have a lot of things to say, I'm sure about what's happening in Washington with impeachment and how that's impacting everything going on. Have you looked at the slate of speakers and is there anyone that you're really interested in hearing from? Mitch Simpler: I have, you know, Jeff, I'm always blown away by the quality and the relevance of all of the speakers at ACEC brings to the conferences. And certainly this fall conference does not appear to be any different. Bob Costa will certainly shed some long overdue light on what is and more importantly, what isn't happening in DC, and the ever-changing political trials and tribulations in DC. But each of the other keynote speakers are discussing some equally pertinent topics from current policies. Keller Rinaldo will be discussing his role in creating both a lifesaving, equally important disruptive space-age, zip-line technology. And then finally, the one I think that I'm most interested in is Sekou Andrews poetic voice, which will demonstrate how we as engineers and business leaders need to change the way we deliver our message to our clients, our staff, and most importantly to our society. All really different. But equally intriguing topics. So, I really look forward to it. Host: Absolutely. I think that one of the things that, to your point about changing the way that we talk about ourselves and our industry to our clients, is an idea that kind of extends from the strategic planning process and something that I think that you've mentioned a number of times and it's really stuck with me is the idea of moving the industry from a role of being just being a service provider into being a trusted advisor for our clients. What does that mean to you being a trusted advisor and how can the industry move towards that recognition? Mitch Simpler: Well, you know, the trusted advisor term is something that I use quite often because I believe in it. To me, a trusted advisor is someone who was perceived to provide invaluable, unbiased, and timely information to the betterment of the receiving party. In my humble opinion, that is what all engineers do already. We simply need to raise the awareness of our clients and our society to see that our services are truly, we are trusted advisors. Host: Absolutely. And the engineering industry is, you know, we all know is changing. We see it all around us. You know, something that, and we'll get to this with, with the FIDIC conference, when, when you were speaking at in Mexico City talking about how technology is really pushing different things, cloud computing, data visualization, you know, using virtual reality and data heavy applications. In your opinion, why is it important that ACEC evolve to address these new specializations but at the same time keep its core focus as being the voice of the engineering industry? Mitch Simpler: Well, you know, Jeff, this is truly a pivotal time in, ACEC's evolution. Each and every one of our member firms are diversifying, adding value to their clients by creating and evolving their own specialty practice to better serve their clients. These changes within our member firms are equally reflected in the firms' makeup, which means employing non-traditional staff and service components. So in my opinion, we as an organization need to be sensitive to these changes and reflect all of these in our approach to how we best serve our member organizations as well. Our member firms. Host: Absolutely. But at the same time that that guiding North Star is still representing the engineering industry. And that is still throughout the process. Still the focus for ACEC, it's just the fact that there are different specializations, there are different people coming in, nontraditional professionals who are being included in or folded into the engineering family. And it's a question of evolving to make sure they are welcome as well. Mitch Simpler: Absolutely agree. Host: And then of course you and I were just in Mexico City for the annual FIDIC conference. It was my first FIDIC conference. And I thought it was, it was a very interesting event. It was - it brought a lot of different topics. Of course, this year was mainly focused on technology and innovation. What was your impression of the overall of the event overall? Mitch Simpler: Well, you know, interesting. It was my first FIDIC conference as well and I really wasn't quite sure what to expect. I will tell you, I was very favorably impressed with the whole conference and in particular the extreme focus on technology as both a disruptor as well as being a single greatest opportunity for the engineering profession to differentiate itself from the less technical aspects of the built environment. And, and hearing the, the issues that were presented on a global scale which we face every day here in the U.S., I guess the good news is that we are not alone and that the pressures being brought to bear on firms here or the same pressures being brought to bear on firms on a global scale. But clearly technology will be the wave of the future. And a part of our role, in my opinion, is to be able to harness that technology to help us forge a new future for the consulting engineering industry. Host: Absolutely. How important do you think it was for Bob Howard to take over as president of FIDIC from the fact that he is an American, you know, the presidency is now in kind of the hands of North America. What kind of impact do you think that'll have on that organization? Mitch Simpler:Well, that's my opinion. It'll have a very positive impact. Certainly what Bob brings to the table is the fact that he has a significant amount of experience having been past chair of ACEC U.S. He can bring that experience and the ability to manage a large organization to the, to the FIDIC level so that they can now practice a global management in a, in a much I don't want say needed, but certainly in a very, in a very kindly and organized fashion. And I think it'll be very positive. I think he is going to be a terrific, terrific addition and it's a two year term and he's going to have a, a, a challenge ahead of them. Absolutely. You know, they're there. They're reforming and reformulating. Their new president is absolutely terrific and I think they will be a terrific team. Host: Yeah. Nelson always brings energy. He's at, at the conference, I don't think he stopped. I think he had, you know, every single foot he stepped somebody was grabbing them and pulling them aside. So the energy is definitely there. So it's good that the leadership and then with, with Bob bringing his perspective, I think it's going to, it's definitely going to be a bright future. Mitch Simpler: Yeah, I think that'll be very positive. And it'll evolve into even a better organization than it already is. Host: Well, we've seen a surge in late, I guess now that it's kind of the 11th hour registrants for the Chicago conference. If there's anybody on the fence, what would be your elevator pitch for them to come out to Chicago? Mitch Simpler: Well, you know, it's funny having been that ACEC member from CEO who had never attended the ACEC national conference until for me until about 10 years ago, my message is certainly simple. As a member, you need to attend the national conference so that you can begin to see the things that you would otherwise never know existed to make you a better leader, a better business person, and finally, a better service provider. You get all these training sessions as a byproduct from attending meetings with your peers as well as the innumerable professionals who attend the conferences for the sole purpose of educating and raising the awareness of our members as to what we can do as an organization to help all of our member firms and our member organizations. And I remember it like it was yesterday. It was absolutely eye opening and jaw-dropping and it was because of that experience that I have gotten involved to the level I have because I realized that the national does provide an immense amount of insight for people that are running businesses. It's about the business of engineering and it is the best way, singularly, the best way for CEOs and C-suites to members to well get that opportunity to learn. Host: Well put. It's going to be my first fall conference. I'm, I'm looking forward to it. The podcast is going to be there of course, and we're looking for guests. Anyone who's there who wants to be on just, just search me out, you know, grab the mic. But that, that's, that's great. Is there anything else going on which we didn't touch upon that you want to want to address? Mitch Simpler: No, as I said, my, certainly my mission should the rest of the board choose to accept it is to get the new strategic plan adopted so that we as an organization can take advantage of the new team that have at national coupled to the new strategic plan and really start moving this organization into the future. And it'll be exciting. It's challenging and I look forward to it. Host: So do we. I think that you know, from our, you know, our hallway here, which is, you know, Linda, myself, Steve, and then Dave Bender of course, who came on in June, we're all very optimistic, very excited to start working on this and, and really guiding this through you know, approval, the whole full approval by the board and then the implementation. But we think there's a lot of opportunity to establish ACEC even more as the main source, the convener, the thought leader driving the discussion about the value of engineering to society, to policy makers and to a wider audience than ever before. And we're really looking forward to it. Mitch Simpler: Right. And, and the, and the next challenge will be after the, after the board hopefully adopts the strategic plan will be to develop the implementation plan, which is really the devil in the details as to how we will execute the strategic plan. And more importantly, set up the metrics by which we can measure the performance of the entire organization against the strategic goals. And that'll be our next challenge. Host: Absolutely. But it's one that we're ready and willing to take on. So Mitch, thank you so much for your time and looking forward to seeing you in Chicago next week. Mitch Simpler: As do I look forward to seeing you on everybody else? It, it should be a terrific conference and a well-worth the time that the, we will all be spending out there. Okay. Safe travels. Host: Safe travels