TZL 1475 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

TRENDLINES Effect of pandemic on worker productivity by technology maturity February 6, 2023, Issue 1475 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


40% 50%


It’s time to start building a strategy for how you will compete and stay relevant in this rapidly evolving environment. AI wrote part of this article

10% 20%


Tech forward Status quo Better since pandemic No impact Worse since pandemic

H ave you heard of ChatGPT? Before I explain what it is, let’s begin a conversation around the impact quantum computing will have on architecture and engineering as there have been recent and significant developments not only in quantum computing, but other technology that stands to make drastic impacts for the world in 2023. Quantum computing is a revolutionary technology that has the potential to significantly impact various fields, including architecture and engineering. This article aims to explore the potential impacts of quantum computing on these fields and how it can be utilized to solve complex problems and improve design processes. First, it is essential to understand the basics of quantum computing. Quantum computers operate on the principles of quantum mechanics, which is the study of how particles behave at the atomic and subatomic level. Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, to store and process information. These qubits can exist in multiple states simultaneously. This allows quantum computers to perform certain calculations much faster than traditional computers. One of the primary ways quantum computing can impact architecture and engineering is through the use of optimization algorithms. These algorithms can find the optimal solution to a problem by considering all possible solutions and selecting the one that is most efficient or cost- effective. In architecture and engineering, these algorithms can be used to optimize the design of structures and systems. Another area where quantum computing can have a significant impact is in the simulation of complex systems. Traditional computers struggle to simulate complex systems accurately because of the vast number of variables involved. Quantum computers, on the other hand, can simulate these systems much more accurately, thanks to their ability to perform calculations simultaneously. This could be particularly useful in the fields of architecture and engineering, where simulations are used to test and verify the performance of structures and systems. Quantum computing could also have a significant impact on the field of material science. Quantum computers can be used to study the properties of materials at the atomic and molecular level, which could lead to the development of new materials with improved properties. This could be particularly useful in our industry where materials play a crucial role in the design and construction of structures and systems.

According to UNANET’s 2022-2023 AEC Inspire Report , tech-forward firms report significantly higher levels of workforce collaboration and worker productivity/efficiency since the pandemic than their tech-static counterparts, likely because they had more digital collaboration and communications tools in place.

Phil Keil

FIRM INDEX CORE Consultants, Inc...................................6

EMCOR Group, Inc.........................................10

Geosyntec Consultants................................4

Morris & Associates, Engineers.............12

Stratus...................................................................... 12

MORE ARTICLES n JAVIER SUAREZ: No more SOQs! Page 3 n Staying true: Kaley Konecny Page 6 n MARK HODGES: Nice budget – too bad it’s wrong Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Practical tips on real- world mentoring Page 11

See PHIL KEIL, page 2



PHIL KEIL, from page 1

Overall, quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize the fields of architecture and engineering by enabling the optimization of designs, the accurate simulation of complex systems, and the development of new materials. While quantum computers are still in the early stages of development, it is clear they will play a crucial role in the future of these fields. However, it is important to note that the development and deployment of quantum computing will not be without challenges. One significant challenge is the need for specialized hardware and infrastructure, which can be expensive and difficult to maintain. There is also a need for skilled personnel trained in quantum computing, which could be a challenge in the early stages of the technology’s development. Additionally, there are concerns about the security of quantum computers, as they could potentially be used to break encryption and compromise sensitive information. Despite these challenges, it is clear that quantum computing has the potential to significantly impact the fields of architecture and engineering. As the technology continues to develop and mature, it is likely we will see more and more applications in these fields. As such, it is essential that architects, engineers, and other professionals stay up to date with the latest developments and curate skill sets that address such transformative change. CHATGPT. Can you believe everything after the first paragraph, up to this point, was written by AI called ChatGPT? Of significant strategic importance for firms in 2023, technology (AI, quantum computing, AR/VR, metaverse, etc.) is probably at the forefront. Yet, when I scan the industry discussions, these topics seem to be rather niche and tossed aside for things such as sustainability, inclusivity, accessibility, or employee experience challenges. We will see things by the end of this year or next that we cannot possibly imagine. Do I think this is the year that we achieve artificial general intelligence? No, but if you’ve been waiting on the sidelines, now is the time to start building a strategy for how you will compete and stay relevant in the next three years. ChatGPT is an AI “chatbot” or general language processing system built on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 family of large language models, which were then enhanced with supervised and reinforcement learning techniques utilizing a large corpus of information prior to 2022. To help you understand the significance, there are some already making the analogy that this technological transformation is on the same scale as that of the Guttenberg press. It isn’t using real world data yet, but will be very soon. All I did here was ask it to produce an 600 word article on the impact of quantum computing on architecture and engineering. Others, however, have presented it with what I consider some more sophisticated and interesting tasks. For example, having it write an essay on the intersection between the Daoist version of ethical morality and the ethics that are outlined in the Sermon on the Mount. It did both of these things in about five seconds and what resulted was very good. There was also a computer engineer who purportedly worked for Tesla and asked the system to write 10 bullet points on “what I probably would have done as an engineer at Twitter” that were productive and valuable, then asked if it could write the accompanying computer code that goes with each project. It did that too in a few seconds. Professors have asked it to take an SAT, write an essay, and grade it providing a comprehensive analysis of the essay and giving it a grade. It has written the screenplay and described the characters for “the next $900 million Hollywood blockbuster,” then someone else took those descriptions of the actors and asked it to generate photorealistic images for them. BE PREPARED FOR WHAT COMES NEXT. As incredible as this is, I would classify it as relatively “not that smart” comparatively for what it is going to be in two to five years. Therefore, I’ll ask a question this time: Do you have a strategic plan that adequately addresses how you will gain and sustain a competitive advantage over the next three to five years or beyond? If not, reach out to the Zweig Group team; we are here to make an impact through driving purpose and performance for the AEC universe. We can help and are passionate about doing so. Phil Keil is a principal and director of strategy services at Zweig Group. Contact him at

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© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




No more SOQs!

SOQs that are assembled without any direction just end up in the delete folder or the wastebasket. There’s a better way.

“W e need an SOQ” is probably one of the most common statements in the AEC industry. SOQs, or Statement of Qualifications, are the biggest crutch in the history of business development. OK, that sounds like an exaggeration (and probably is), but it is time we talk about how we work with SOQs and if we even need them at all. In my more than 25-year career, I have not met one person who has read an SOQ; glanced at it, sure, but read it in its entirety? No way.

Javier Suarez

A typical scenario looks like this: Practitioners secure an in-person meeting with a potential new client and then request that marketing put together a comprehensive set of qualifications for a particular market sector and/or practice area. At this junction, we need to reply with the ever-so-powerful question: Why? Usually, the reply is that we need to show the prospective client our expertise in writing and that this SOQ will support what will be shared at the meeting. Hold on a second – first face-to-face meetings should be overwhelmingly more about active listening. The goal is to understand the potential client’s pain points and what they may need from us in the near term. Do you honestly think anyone will read an eight-, 12-, or 24-page document? They barely read your proposals!

Let’s go through the typical sections of an SOQ:

Title page. What a beautiful photo! Next...

■ About us. I guess the assumption here is that the person who agreed to a meeting did not even bother to check your website. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and imagine getting this document – do you see yourself reading it? To make matters worse, most “about us” sections are like Mad Libs: “XYZ firm was founded in whatever year and has grown to something or other with a significant number of offices.” At the very least,




ZWEIG INDEX REINSTATEMENT OF THE ZWEIG INDEX Tracking and reporting on the financial standing of some of the industry’s leading firms will allow The Zweig Letter ’s readers to have another digestible form of information that will equip them with a greater understanding of the state of the industry. So, we have decided to reinstate and enhance the Zweig Index, which will report on 11 of the AEC industry’s leading firms on a monthly basis. Click here for a detailed breakdown and company spotlight on Atlas Technical Consultants from Zweig Group M&A advisor Andy Chavez, CM&AA .

Share Pricing



Company Name

Market Cap

50-DMA Chg %



Exchange Currency

Chg %

Last Price




NYQ USD 11.92B

-0.92% 2.09%

2.73 2.16

85.95 40.45

14.53 11.19

2.07 1.48


Arcadis NV



3.87B 0.00% 4.71%

Atlas Technical Consultants, Inc.



215.77M 1.81% 1.43% -0.55




Bowman Consulting Group Ltd. Fluor Corporation



345.15M 3.11% 23.81% 0.28






5.32B 2.07% 8.53%





Montrose Environmental Group, Inc.



1.57B 1.64% 12.87% -1.3





NV5 Global, Inc.


-0.03% -4.49%



16.12 11.81 22.89 16.63 12.67 15.32

3.68 1.86 2.91 2.79 3.50 2.65


Stantec Inc.


5.72B 0.80% 4.35% 1.28 8.19B 0.05% 2.55% 4.86



Tetra Tech, Inc.



153.88 169.86 Mean Median

WSP.TO WSP Global Inc.

CAD 21.14B

0.28% 3.99% 3.68

*As of market close January 27, 2023

diverse group of professionals? Principals in charge or project directors? Project managers? Subject matter experts? Which subjects matter? A mix of all? How many? What information or stats should be included? Licenses and certifications? Years of experience? A short bio? A list of projects? Descriptions of a handful of projects? The guessing game continues. This is not an attempt to pull a “Jerry Maguire” claiming SOQs should not exist at all, but rather questioning the value of the ones assembled without any direction that end up in the delete folder or the wastebasket, if you provided a printed copy (for reasons that escape me). Do people still have printers? Most of the content in these SOQs should be available on your website, where visitors can easily find the information. You can repackage the high-level content on your website into one or two pages in case someone wants to share something by email along with a link. Anything more detailed or extensive only makes sense when it is specifically requested and you know precisely what information they need. Say it with me: “No more SOQs – instead ask me about it.” Feels good! Now go talk to the architects, engineers, scientists, and other business developers and get on the same page of this issue. Javier Suarez is a marketing manager with Geosyntec Consultants. Contact him at

JAVIER SUAREZ, from page 3

try to go with an infographic or a suitable alternative that could convey your message “at a glance.” ■ Services/capabilities. Your guess is as good as mine on this one. The main decision here typically revolves around how long to make the laundry list. Imagine how little benefit it has for you to jot down a bunch of services that dozens of other firms can include as well. This is a perfect example of why it makes sense to wait until you know which services your prospective client needs. Only then can you focus on describing your capabilities in those specific areas and in a way that is relevant to the reader, not in your standard boilerplate language. ■ Project experience. Another guessing game – name that tune! Often, firms go with “flywheel” or “big” projects that showcase their unicorn moments in the sun. Hopefully, your crystal ball is polished and shiny so that the stories you include are the ones that resonate with the recipient. After all, your intuition should be spot on identifying the type of projects the reader is interested in – huge national multidisciplinary decades-long programmatic endeavors, small task orders at local sites highlighting a specific service, etc. Would they rather see tons of projects that prove you have done extensive work or just a handful of examples with concise but relevant stories? You catch my drift.

■ Representative staff. Do you include local staff? A more

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Staying true: Kaley Konecny Human resources manager at CORE Consultants, Inc., a professional services firm that empowers its people to thrive at home, at work, and in their community.

By SARA PARKMAN Senior Editor

K onecny contributes daily to the growth of CORE (Englewood, CO) and maintaining the firm’s culture as a great place to work. She enjoys resolving workplace issues and serving as a resource for the firm’s employees. As HR manager, Konecny’s goal is to represent the best interest of each employee. “If we can be part of positive change that provides equal opportunities for every person, no matter how big or small, we want to be part of that,” Konecny says. “Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. Having a diverse group of people who think differently will ultimately provide our clients with the most unique solutions to their projects.” A CONVERSATION WITH KALEY KONECNY. The Zweig Letter: You were part of Zweig Group’s 2021 ElevateHER® Cohort. What was your biggest takeaway from the experience? Kaley Konecny: I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been involved in the 2021 ElevateHER® Cohort. I’m new to

the industry, so it allowed for greater insight to the challenges facing the AEC industry, specifically with recruitment and retention and the need to really focus on what matters most – fixing systemic issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion. With that, my biggest takeaway is best described in this quote by Lao Tzu: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Impactful change doesn’t require a revolution, it can happen with small incremental progress along the way. TZL: What do you do to maintain CORE’s culture as a great place to work? KK: Hold true to our values, listen to feedback, and adjust as needed, provide opportunities for growth, recognize and reward, provide challenging and purpose-driven projects, and communicate with transparency. Culture is not created from one person or a select group of people at CORE. Every employee adds to our culture and makes us what we are. Our responsibility as leaders is to make sure there’s an alignment of values to avoid the erosion of our culture.



TZL: How has COVID-19 permanently impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting? KK: CORE has always been an environment of flexibility, but COVID has changed the way in which we work. We implemented a hybrid schedule in our office, carving out Wednesdays and Fridays as hybrid days for those who enjoy the work-from-home option. There’s flexibility around these days, but our purpose for structure is to ensure that we remain a collaborative, team-centric environment with proper communication channels in place so we can be effective in how we get work done. Overall, our telecommuting policy hasn’t changed a lot since COVID; we’ve adapted how we work and can do so effectively. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? KK: Failure is hard! It’s something that happens regularly – in big and small ways – but if you’re a person with a growth mindset, it’s easier to overcome because it can be used as an opportunity to improve. I have a library of lessons learned, but one that first comes to mind is that proactive, frequent communication is fundamental in an ever- changing environment. Communicating the “why” and allowing people to provide input is essential for buy-in and the notion of “rowing in the same direction.” The time it takes to do it is worth it. I’ve failed to spend the time upfront clearly communicating the “why,” and because of that spent much more time on resistance to change. Having empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of others is always helpful! TZL: As an HR manager, you’ve seen firsthand how challenging it is for firms to retain and recruit talent. What are you doing at CORE to attract and keep talent? KK: Staying true to who we are as a company has been paramount in our recruitment and retention efforts. People want to join a firm with meaningful work and purpose, but it’s “Every employee adds to our culture and makes us what we are. Our responsibility as leaders is to make sure there’s an alignment of values to avoid the erosion of our culture.”

equally important that the culture and values align with who they are as an individual. For this reason, it’s critical that we are open and transparent in who we are and how we operate as a team during the interviewing process. Transparency is also very important to retaining talent. We are very much focused on our values – the lens in which we operate as a company – so we know what is expected of us and our peers. We quickly address and resolve issues, and we hold people accountable to expectations. We understand this is not only good for business, but it allows us to retain our high-performing employees who want to come in each day to do good work and be part of an accountable team. “Staying true to who we are as a company has been paramount in our recruitment and retention efforts. People want to join a firm with meaningful work and purpose.” TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? KK: Intentionality is extremely important. From our recruiting efforts to employee experience, diversity and inclusion are instilled in what we do and how we do it. It’s also part of our strategic plan, holding us accountable to results and progress. We understand it’s not one or the other; a company must focus on both to be successful. We can’t hire a diverse workforce who feel like they don’t belong, so we must facilitate a culture of honoring people’s differences, truly listening to each other, and showing respect across the board. When the mark is missed, it’s important that we take quick action to resolve any issues or problems. In addition, our internal processes – from hiring to promotions, to employee performance evaluations to recognizing and rewarding excellence – have been created to eliminate or severely reduce the chances of unconscious bias, inequity, and discrimination. We are very intentional about inserting equity in all of our policies, processes, and programs and will continue to revisit and revise in our evolution of learning and growing. We know we have much more to do on this topic and we are committed to enhancing and building upon what we have so far.


Englewood, CO



Englewood, CO

Winter Park, CO


Land development


Public infrastructure


Civil engineering


Natural resources

See STAYING TRUE, page 8


© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

RUARY 6, 2023, ISSUE 1475


We are very intentional in how we recruit and promote. It’s about having the right people on the team and making sure they are in a role where they can be successful. We assess past behavior to help predict future behavior, alignment with our values and philosophies, competencies, and potential. We believe it’s equally important to drill down into what they really want. Sometimes people think they want to be a manager but in reality, they simply don’t. I believe it is a disservice to that person, company, and team if a hire or promotion happens out of need versus readiness and willingness to be great in that role. When the person wants the role, they understand the role, and they have the competencies to perform, CORE provides training, guidance, and exposure to professional development opportunities for continuous learning and improvement. Managing people is hard and it will never be perfect. We are complex human beings! If we show up with the best intentions, work with our people to help facilitate growth, and provide continuous feedback, we’re on the right track. That is what we expect from our managers (and ourselves). TZL: Your ElevateHER® Cohort group focused on getting people back into the industry through a back-to-work program. What did you see as the benefits of “returnships” for both those returning to the industry and for the firms? KK: Returnships provide an “on ramp” for those getting reacclimated to the workforce, providing a space to relearn principles and readjust to the office environment, while still providing value to projects and the firm. An ideal returnship will provide an experiential opportunity for the returner, while giving him/her the confidence to train in new settings and teams in the modern office setting. In turn, firms are given the option of working with experienced employees and gaining new, diverse talent. These programs also provide firms with an immediate opportunity to increase the number of mid-career and senior talent on staff. TZL: Does your firm work closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology, experience, and innovation and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? KK: We do. On the recruiting front, we work closely with colleges that have programs aligned with what we do. More importantly, in my opinion, is working closely with colleges whose values align with ours, specifically those that have a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion and actively seek students with varying backgrounds and experiences. We have a couple of partnerships already, and we strive to build upon what we currently have with out-of-state colleges to provide an even more diverse pool of candidates who could potentially work with us in the future. Who doesn’t want to move to Colorado? TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? KK: To provide an environment where people can do their best work.

STAYING TRUE, from page 7

TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? KK: I would say I’m a leader who is ever evolving and growing. I want to do better than yesterday. I see imperfections and strive to improve. When I know better, I try hard to do better. And I expect that from my team. I never expect perfection. What I do expect is self-reflection, admitting faults, and learning from mistakes. TZL: CORE was an early supporter of ElevateHER®, and supports many other diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the AEC industry. Can you speak to the motivation behind this? Why is it important to CORE to support these causes? KK: The overarching reason is simply because it’s the right thing to do. If we can be part of positive change that provides equal opportunities for every person, no matter how big or small, we want to be part of that. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. Having a diverse group of people who think differently will ultimately provide our clients with the most unique solutions to their projects. “ElevateHER® gave me greater insight into the challenges facing the AEC industry, specifically with recruitment and retention and the need to really focus on what matters most – fixing systemic issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion.” TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? KK: We offer a program, “OptOutside” (shout out to REI) that reimburses employees up to $500 per year to spend on outdoor activities. For example, ski passes, new running shoes, bikes, hiking/fishing gear – anything that will encourage employees to reset, recharge, and do the things that they’re passionate about. We live in the beautiful state of Colorado – who wouldn’t want to be outside? Giving back to the community is a CORE value and very important to our employees. Excitement comes from helping those in need by providing our time and expertise. It not only helps our community, but it fosters teamwork, positive relationships, and belonging. CORE offers up to 16 hours to employees per year as volunteer-time off to spend time away from work and in the community. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your firm’s line leadership are great people managers? KK: It all starts with having the right people in the right roles.

ELEVATEHER® SYMPOSIUM ElevateHER® is about the future of the AEC industry, and Zweig Group’s commitment to recruit, retain, and engage the best minds in the industry. Join us at the 2023 ElevateHER® Symposium, where we present select ElevateHER® projects, DEI-focused keynotes from industry leading change agents, powerful panel discussions, and practical mini workshops to all those who are ready to turn inspiration into action. Click here to learn more!

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Nice budget – too bad it’s wrong

Y ou likely have no reason to know the name Walter Bailey. A lot of people owe him their life, though. Don’t be a victim of continuation bias; it’s time to completely change your IT strategy in the face of the ongoing cyber threat.

In 1977, Walter was a busboy at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Kentucky. When a fire broke out, Walter (against the direction of his manager) stepped up to the microphone in an effort to get everyone out safely. He went to the stage in a room holding somewhere between 900 and 1,300 guests, all waiting for that evening’s main event: John Davidson. (Nobody cared in those days that the space had enough capacity and exits for 600 people.) Several warm-up acts, including a comedian, had already performed. So, it’s easy to understand why the crowd didn’t exactly snap to attention when a busboy started telling people about the fire and instructing them to move in an orderly way to one of the exits. A few laughed, thinking it was part of an act. Most just dismissed him. Four minutes later, the lights went out; and over the course of the next few hours 167 people would die.

The Beverly Hills Supper Club would become known as the location of one of the largest fires on record (and one of the deadliest). CONTINUATION BIAS AND YOUR BUDGET. The death toll at the Beverly Hills fire was impacted by continuation bias. This is the bias that makes us want to stick with the original plan, even when we get evidence that reveals the original plan is a bad one. Call it tunnel vision. Call it being hard-headed. Call it whatever you like – continuation bias drives poor decisions even when circumstances demand we step back and take another look. And this is why your nice, shiny, brand new budget is likely wrong (or at least part of it). THE PROBLEM. Cybersecurity is a charged word. It is something most do not understand, and also a word that has been used to instill fear in the market. The

Mark Hodges

See MARK HODGES, page 10



ON THE MOVE REBECCA A. WEYENBERG ELECTED TO THE EMCOR GROUP, INC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS EMCOR Group, Inc. announced the election by the company’s board of directors of Rebecca A. Weyenberg to the board. Weyenberg is currently the chief financial officer of Astec Industries Inc.. Astec Industries designs, engineers, manufactures, and markets equipment, materials and components used in infrastructure, aggregates, and mining activities in the U.S. and internationally. Anthony Guzzi, chairman, president, and CEO of EMCOR Group, Inc.

commented, “Becky brings a proven track record to our board as a financial and strategic leader with applied experience in the construction industry as well as the manufacturing, industrial, and distribution market sectors, all of which are important sectors for EMCOR. Moreover, Becky has a strong background in evaluating strategic acquisitions and building effective finance organizations. Her knowledge and leadership experience are going to be a tremendous asset to EMCOR as we continue to grow our business and drive long-term value for our shareholders.” Weyenberg joined Astec in December

2019 after previously serving as vice president of global finance operations for Welbilt, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of commercial foodservice equipment. Prior to Welbilt, she served as vice president, finance for the North American region for AGCO, a global agricultural machinery manufacturer. Weyenberg received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Carthage College. EMCOR Group, Inc. is a Fortune 500 leader in mechanical and electrical construction services, industrial and energy infrastructure and building services.

MARK HODGES, from page 9

How are you going to operate in an uninsurable ecosystem? Even if the industry is successful in creating an insurance captive, is insurance really going to be the primary line of defense? Proactively taking steps in your business to address cybersecurity is the one way you can minimize any threat that hits – which is the ultimate standard. Over time, everyone will be impacted by a cybersecurity event. The real question is how will you minimize the impact? (Especially if you held your IT budget flat or decreased it). This is where continuation bias enters the fray. Continuation bias is why you likely held your investment in IT steady. Even in the face of report after report of AEC industry cyber events, you likely felt that the path you have been on for years in IT is still the right one. If you are not completely changing your IT strategy in the face of the ongoing cyber threat, you are bowing at the altar of continuation bias. “How in the world can I just add 30 percent to my IT budget for cybersecurity?” This is the right question to ask. The hard part is that you will have to divest in some areas to invest in your digital security. There is no other way (unless you just happen to have extra money floating around). Cyber threats should reprioritize your spending, just like the move from manual drafting to CAD did. If you created your budget for 2023 and didn’t reprioritize, your budget is just wrong. IT’S NOT TOO LATE. It’s just February. For those of you on fiscal instead of calendar operating years, you can be ahead of the curve. This is a difficult discussion, and it is difficult to make work. Your business is too valuable, though, to step over a dollar to save a nickel when it comes to cybersecurity. Acknowledge reality and stop waking up every day hoping that tomorrow will be yesterday. The world is not going back, and the internet is not getting magically safer. Eradicate continuation bias from your business planning. The AEC industry needs its Walter Bailey. Who is going to step up and advocate for a different approach to cyber? When it comes to cybersecurity, be Walter. Mark Hodges is chief growth officer at Edafio Technology Partners. Contact him at .

threat is real – the grandstanding, however, is not necessary. With that in mind, the easiest way to understand the real problem with cybersecurity is to paint a picture from last year. I was fortunate enough to be able to present a breakout session last year at a conference for AEC leadership. That discussion was designed to make cybersecurity easier to understand and provide several low-cost/high-impact things that could bring more security to a business. Understanding a bit more about cybersecurity makes it easier to manage rather than something to be feared. All week, I felt positive. I was encouraged because many speakers and participants brought up the importance of advancing cybersecurity awareness and preparedness – so I anticipated a crowd. We got into our breakout room which had seating for 50. When we finally closed the doors, we had … eight. Eight brave people. Thus, the empty chairs became a lesson. Those 42 empty chairs are the reason the AEC industry is headed for trouble. I left the conference feeling like the industry is taking an approach to cybersecurity like the kamikaze pilot who made 12 missions – real involved, but not real committed. A lot of words with marginal action. The talk is good, and I even met several firm owners who have taken the exact right steps. But they represent the minority. THE SUM OF THESE VERY DISPARATE PARTS. This whole discussion likely reads like three very separate paths, so let’s bring them all together. There is easily a 95 percent chance your budget is wrong. If you rolled up your 2023 budget and did not add a minimum of 30 percent to your IT budget for addressing proactive cybersecurity needs, you are uncovered. And by the way, that cybersecurity insurance policy won’t save you. In fact, the cybersecurity insurance market is non- sustainable on its current trajectory. Next year, you likely will not be able to afford it (and even if you can, the coverage will be so small it won’t matter).

© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Helping other people develop and be successful could be one of the most rewarding aspects of your career. Practical tips on real-world mentoring

O ne of the great aspects of my life today as someone who is retired from my businesses and working as a college professor is all of the time I have for mentoring. It’s not just students and former students – I also mentor a bunch of other people who have sought me out or that I have met in a number of different places, including LinkedIn.

Mark Zweig

Here are my thoughts:

You will find that mentees who never listen to the advice of their mentors, or those who are too argumentative, will probably need to be dropped. ■ Set a regular time to meet or call. Stick with it. This schedule is beyond crucial, otherwise other priorities will rule the day and the mentoring probably won’t occur. Make it a time that you think you can stick with. ■ Meetings are better than Zoom calls, Zoom calls are better than phone calls, and phone calls are better than texting. It’s really hard to replace face-to-face contact when establishing a

■ It’s a mutual thing. One thing I have learned that has been reinforced so many times over – mentoring has to be a mutual thing. Mentors and mentees have to seek each other out. There isn’t any way you can “assign” these people to each other. It’s not a forced relationship. There has to be a mutual interest in working together. Without that, mentoring will fail. ■ Mentoring takes time. Not everyone has it. Of course, the best mentors are most likely the people who are already the busiest. But if you are serious about mentoring, you will still need to find the time to do it. Again, this implies the need to be selective about who you will mentor.

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



TRANSACTIONS GODSPEED CAPITAL-BACKED STRATUS ACQUIRES MORRIS & ASSOCIATES, ENGINEERS, LLC Godspeed Capital Management LP, a lower middle- market defense and government services, solutions, and technology focused private equity firm, announced the successful acquisition of Morris & Associates, Engineers, LLC, a Texas- based, family-owned engineering and architectural firm. Under the terms of the acquisition, Morris & Associates will join Stratus, Godspeed Capital’s multidisciplinary engineering, architecture, and consulting platform. Founded in 1960 by Don K. Morris in Houston, Morris & Associates brings more than 60 years of engineering, architectural, and fuel system design expertise to Stratus. While the company specializes in the design, permitting, and construction administration of fuel systems for retail, fleet, institutional and municipal facilities, it also offers a broad range of services including architecture design support, entitlements, land planning, site development, enterprise drone surveying, and expert witness services. Morris & Associates is also a leader in the development and utilization of 3D laser scanning and drone surveying to analyze sites for clients across the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, and retail sectors. A second-generation family-owned business, Morris & Associates’ team of 16 professionals is licensed in 16 U.S. states and has designed fuel infrastructure systems and obtained permits for thousands of facilities worldwide.

“We are pleased to welcome Morris & Associates to Stratus, as the firm’s established portfolio of business and longstanding reputation supporting public and private sector clients in Texas will markedly enhance our platform’s footprint across the Southeastern United States,” said Brandon Enochs, chief executive officer and president of Stratus. “This acquisition not only reinforces Stratus’ commitment to building a world- class, innovative, and diverse platform, but also furthers our vision of providing best-in-class engineering, architecture, and consulting services and solutions to clients across high-growth sectors in the Southeastern US, a core region of focus for our family of companies. We look forward to integrating Morris & Associates’ extensive and complementary business, supported by an incredibly talented team of professionals, to the growing Stratus platform.” Morris & Associates is the latest acquisition for Stratus, which was formed through the alliance of four companies including Prime Engineering, Austin Brockenbrough & Associates, Ascent Engineering Group, and Zyscovich, Inc. Founded with a vision to build a diversified engineering, architecture, and consulting platform of scale, Stratus partners with businesses in the growing commercial, industrial, transportation, education, federal, state, and local government infrastructure markets to deliver innovative services and solutions to clients in the U.S. and around the world. Stratus will continue to seek out like- minded engineering, architecture, and

consulting firms aligned with its core values and geographic focus to further accelerate its growth through investment in world-class talent, technology, and service offerings. Stratus delivers solutions that connect people and communities to build a more vibrant world. Stratus is a full-service engineering and architecture consulting firm for the full project lifecycle – from initial planning and feasibility studies to final construction oversight. The firm’s highly technical, licensed team of engineers, architects, planners, designers, and surveyors provide unique insight and expertise to help solve complex problems while empowering its clients and community partners to bring plans to life. Godspeed Capital is a lower middle- market defense and government services, solutions, and technology focused private equity firm investing alongside forward-thinking management teams that seek an experienced and innovative investment partner with unique sector expertise, operational insight, and flexible capital for growth. While a typical investment will involve companies generating approximately $3 million to $30 million of EBITDA, Godspeed Capital has significant support to complete larger transactions through strategic co-invest relationships. The firm focuses on control buyouts, buy-and- builds, corporate carve-outs, and special situations.

maybe it’s because I am the parent of five daughters that this instinct is strong for me – I don’t know. But I do know I greatly appreciate the psychic rewards of mentoring. Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at successful that no amount of money can replace. Maybe it’s because I was fortunate enough to have some great mentors over the course of my career.” “There is something about helping other people develop and be

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

relationship of trust between two people. Yes, this makes it harder and more time-consuming, but that’s the way it is. ■ Sometimes you need to be available for unscheduled meetings or calls if there are particular problems or situations. You cannot always stick to a schedule because the mentee may be dealing with a situation that is urgent and takes your input now. Try to make yourself available for those situations and you will be a better mentor. I have found mentoring to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. There is something about helping other people develop and be successful that no amount of money can replace. Maybe it’s because I was fortunate enough to have some great mentors over the course of my career. Or

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