ON THE MOVE DEWBERRY ANNOUNCES THE PROMOTION OF RICH BRITTINGHAM Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced the promotion of Rich Brittingham, RLA, to business unit manager in its Leesburg, Virginia, office. Brittingham is a landscape architect and associate vice president with expertise in conceptual design, master planning, design development, and legislative entitlements. He has more than 17 years of experience and has spent his entire career with Dewberry. Brittingham is managing a 20-person business unit, which operates primarily in the state and
local government market segment with a focus on land planning and development. “We are thrilled to promote Rich to business unit manager. His leadership in the Leesburg office and his strong track record of client success have been proven over his years at Dewberry,” said Dewberry mid-Atlantic Operating Unit Manager Robert Victor, PE. “We are looking forward to a great future with Rich at the helm.” Brittingham earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Virginia Tech and is a registered landscape architect in Maryland,
and Virginia. He serves on the Loudoun County Zoning Ordinance Committee, is currently vice president of the Loudoun Chapter of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, and is a board member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.
KEVIN TOKEN, from page 3
and circumstances. Challenges, opportunities, vision, and strategies change over time. Why not change leadership to match the conditions? ❚ ❚ We get the benefit of fresh ideas and new energy. ❚ ❚ We create opportunity. For example, our new president vacated the key role of healthcare practice leader. Now we are searching for someone to fill that role, and we have multiple candidates from within the firm. Without the change in president, those people would not have the opportunity to compete for that role. If that role is indeed filled by someone internal, another person will have the opportunity to step into a new role, and the cycle can continue. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Wait a minute … what does the old president or chairman do after leading the company?” We have addressed that issue very purposefully, ensuring that past leaders continue to contribute in meaningful ways. And it works. We currently have four past presidents or chairmen working in the firm, and each of them is thriving in a new role. Some made the transition more easily than others, but all have found a way to be happy and contribute to our business. Meanwhile, those of us currently leading the firm often turn to our predecessors for mentorship and advice. I should note that BSA LifeStructures has one key factor working to its advantage in this scenario: ownership structure. At firms where one person is a majority owner, this person naturally wants a bigger voice in how the business moves forward. At BSA LifeStructures, we set up this system when ownership was spread out, so no one insisted on centralized leadership. Then, three years ago, we transitioned to a 100 percent ESOP, which allows us to disconnect ownership and leadership even more completely. Over the years, I think we’ve all seen firms that have been held back by entrenched leadership, or that were undone by mishandled attempts at leadership transitions. Maybe you’re at one now, or you are worried that, with the passage of time, your firm could face that challenge. If so, I suggest you consider a different way, one that plans for transitions and accommodates change. You just might find that both the firm and “John” are happier and stronger as a result. KEVIN TOKEN is the chairman and CEO at BSA LifeStructures. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
what they can and then go somewhere with more growth potential. The business becomes mired in a constant cycle of “bring them in, train them, and watch them leave.” So let’s look at a different model, one that is unique in the AEC world, and one that was purposefully developed many years ago at BSA LifeStructures. Our 45-year-old firm has two key roles at the top: a chairman of the board, who is also our CEO, and a president. The chairman (the role I currently fill) is the visionary. With a high-level focus, they work with the board to set big-picture vision, identify strategies for meeting that vision, drive activities that result in growth and set the internal “tone” of the firm. The president is the integrator. They make sure strategies are carried out, the culture of the firm is set and maintained, the right people are in the right seats, and obstacles and barriers to success are removed. And, of course, the president is accountable for operating results. So far, you probably don’t see anything unusual in what I’ve described. However, there is one thing that is different at BSA LifeStructures: The people chosen to be president and chairman fill those roles for a finite period of time. They might have those titles for anywhere between four and eight years, and then they move out of their roles and do something else, clearing the way for new leadership. This approach allows us to stay fresh and respond to circumstances. For example, a few years ago, we recognized that we needed a president who could really get our culture fired up. So, in in 2016 we brought in a new president who did that and more. This year, we decided we needed a different set of leadership skills, so, once again, we selected a new president. There was nothing wrong with the previous president; she accomplished everything we wanted. But with a new vision and some new strategies, the board felt we needed someone with more of an operational view at the helm. This kind of change could sound scary to some firms, but, to us, it’s healthy and natural, and it carries with it some important benefits: ❚ ❚ We can put the right person in the right seat for the times
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THE ZWEIG LETTER JANUARY 4, 2021, ISSUE 1373
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