Jan 16th, 2020
Engineering Influence sat down with ACEC Chair-Elect Charles Gozdziewski during ExCom orientation last week. This is the first of our conversations with ACEC's new volunteer leadership during that training.
Host: Welcome to another episode of Engineering Influence, a podcast by the American Council of Engineering Companies. This week in Washington at ACEC headquarters, we're hosting Executive Committee orientation. It's a chance for existing and new members of ExCom to come in and get an overview of of what we do here in Washington from department to department from advocacy to membership to education and get an idea of the work that we're doing now and things that they should look out for in the months ahead in 2020.
Host: I'm very pleased today to welcome to the show Charles Gozdziewski with Hardesty and Hanover. He is here as part of that orientation today. Charlie, welcome back to the show.
Charlie G: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here in Washington, DC.
Host: 2020 - It's already starting with a lot of activity with our group down here. We kinda hit the ground running with, of course ExCom orientation. But then we're also off to the races from a policy perspective with NEPA, which is something Steve talked about before and really looking towards our own policy work with WRDA infrastructure and potentially appropriations for 2020. That's what we're looking forward to. But I want to get your perspective, of course in your position in volunteer leadership. ACEC as it stands right now, the opportunities that we have for the coming year and you know, some of the things that you watch out for.
Charlie G: Well this is a very busy and challenging year and as people are aware in the organization, we have a major reset in place. And I'd like to talk a little bit about the internal aspects of 2020 and then the external. On the internal side. We had a chance to revisit our strategic plan, which has not been had any major revisions since 2002.
Charlie G: That's basically complete. We're now looking at the implementation phase of the strategic plan and that will be a big lift for ACEC staff and volunteer leadership as well as ExCom. So that'll take up a good part of our workload going forward. On the external side politics always plays a big role in our organization and as usual, the politics can go any way any day. But we are very well plugged in as you mentioned, we have a very strong advocacy group and there'll be engaged and active the rest of the year. We have a major election coming in 2020. That's going to be a big part of our program. But also, you know, we can't lose sight of the infrastructure bill that we're tracking and we need to be a a leader in that field.
Charlie G: We are the experts. We should be the voice of the infrastructure bill and we plan on doing that. We also have to keep in mind that our industry is changing very rapidly on a technology side and we need to stay on top of all these changes and how we do our business. ACEC again, one of the main focuses is the business of engineering and we have to remain relevant in a changing society that will be prominent going forward.
Host: How do you think our members can best utilize ACEC to do that?
Charlie G: All our survey data show that our membership rates advocacy and networking as the top two reasons they belong to the organization. The networking will be the Avenue to share ideas and information. If you're an engineer today working in an office by yourself or a company working by yourself, you're at an extreme disadvantage.
Charlie G: ACEC opens up those doors by sharing the knowledge, communicating all the regional events, the local events all the opportunities on our committees. This is the Avenue where people can learn and adjust their business practices.
Host: And I think the ACEC coalitions is a great place for that to happen. Where you're not alone if you're a sole practitioner or if you're in part of a small firm or, or a regional firm. The coalitions give you the ability to punch above your weight class. It gives you the ability to talk to your peers across the country who may be facing the same challenges as you may be facing or are looking ahead and seeing things that maybe you haven't gotten to yet. And being able to do that information sharing is critical for a company that wants to increase their market share or to possibly enter into other markets that they might not be, you know, used to entering.
Host: And so that, that's, that's a great tool for ACEC members to take advantage of. And it's not expensive to get involved in the begin with. And number two, it's, it's just very successful for networking, which was, I like you said, it's one of the key benefits of ACEC membership.
Charlie G: The coalitions is another good example of the opportunities that ACEC offers all member firms. Of course every member firm is different in style and culture and size and geography and discipline where the coalitions, the biggest challenge is some of the firms need to spend some time and be committed to the coalitions to get the most out of them. And every feedback we get is that once they participate in the coalitions, everything is positive feedback and they learn more, go out coming out of it didn't go before they went in. So again, coalition is a good, good example of the value proposition ACEC offers all member firms.
Host: During the meeting earlier when we were talking about the advocacy program, we talked about the green new deal and we talked about some of the larger policy implications and your perspective coming from New York. I thought was very interesting because a lot of ways there are two States in the country that really lead the other States on, on adoption of more progressive policies - that's California and New York. Where do you see things going when it comes to those bigger issues of, of, you know, sustainability, climate change the green new deal and what New York is doing and how that might impact other States, especially as it interacts with our industry with engineering.
Charlie G: As you know, New York has experienced some severe weather related events that damaged a lot about infrastructure that has changed the way, not only the engineering community thinks, but also the way the elected officials think about their infrastructure.
Charlie G: We are now very active on resilient programs in all of the government sectors. And also on the energy side, we, I feel we we're, one of the leaders is converting our energy products into more of a carbon free type of environment. And we think that we will be an example for the rest of the country is how to do that, especially on a large scale like New York City. Yeah.
Host: What do you think Congress should do this year that would really benefit the industry?
Charlie G: Well, again, on a national level and also on a statewide level I think everybody has a background of thinking that we need to incorporate resiliency and renewables into every aspect of the infrastructure. And that comes in many shapes and forms and sizes and styles. And I think it's starting to resonate.
Charlie G: It does resonate in a public and that ultimately resonates with the public and elected officials. So the engineers today are doing engineering, which was a lot different than 10 years ago. And it's with this kind of energy and resiliency and sustainability that is now part of every engineer's creativity and developing the infrastructure.
Host: Any parting thoughts on the year ahead or, or what you hope to see?
Charlie G: I think that one of the challenges going forward is there is a lot of issues and we need to tackle them at the same time. Another big issue that's coming up as far as procurement goes and the prevalence of design build and other procurements of that nature it does have challenges to our industry and we have to really get a better understanding of how it's being used and where it's being used and how much is being used. And I think we are prepared to take on that challenge.
Host: All good points. Yeah, just gearing up for a very active 20, 20 across the board. And we'll be leading that discussion. And thank you very much for being part of the of the show today and look forward to working with you on a, on a very successful year.
Charlie G: Thank you, Jeff. Good luck for 2020. Thanks.