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Your firm needs to be where conversations are happening – online. E-com for AEC

S top right there – I already knowwhat you’re thinking: “I’m a prominent civil engineering firm, I don’t have people googling ‘civil engineer + my city’ to find my services – B2B sales don’t work that way. E-commerce doesn’t apply to me or my firm.” Unfortunately, although you may be right about the googling, your firm’s online presence is probably factoring into a number of processes that greatly affect your firm’s success – if not already, it will be soon! In today’s market, e-commerce for AEC firms is about a lot more than the single click transaction to buy things. The average adult is now spending more than 16 hours per day consuming digital media, up from an already insanely high 12 hours and 24 minutes a day pre-pandemic (according to a Wall Street Journal article from August 2020). When thinking about your firm’s online presence, you need to factor in the following: 1. How potential clients will find out about your firm online for the first time. This is website 101 – but online is now about a lot more than a website and a couple social media profiles. The AEC industry is vast and comprised of quite a few different types of firms. If you do any kind of residential work, you don’t need me to tell you that you do have potential clients absolutely stalking your firm, past projects, and the people who work for your firm online, well before they even pick up the phone or send an email expressing their need for your services. For other firm types with different business development processes, it may be less direct, but there’s no doubt at some point someone who is a decision-maker has or will view your firm’s website or be exposed to something or someone related to your firm and its work online. Every one of these touchpoints is an important factor! If someone does decide to reach out to your firm, you have to be accessible and responsive via a number of methods. These all have to be easily identified by any potential client. 2. How your firm is interacting with the world online – potential clients, potential partner firms, organizations, etc. This second

F I R M I N D E X AECOM....................................................................... 12 BL Companies, Inc................................................4 Campos Engineering......................................... 6 CWE.................................................................................4 Fluor Corporation..................................................2 RFE Engineering, Inc...........................................4 MO R E A R T I C L E S n JULIA DEFRANCES: Proposal writing best practices Page 3 n A work family: Tony Casagrande Page 6 n JUSTIN SMITH: Measure what matters Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: What goes up can stay up – if you do! Page 11 In Zweig Group’s 2022 Valuation Report of AEC Firms , the disparity in the ratio of equity value to pre-tax, pre-bonus profit in valuations done on behalf of controlling owners (4.13) relative to those done on behalf of minority owners (3.58) is shown. Overall, the 2022 report found that valuations performed on behalf of the majority ownership resulted in value ratios that were 15 percent higher than valuations performed on behalf of the minority of non-controlling owners. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

Christina Zweig Niehues




BUSINESS NEWS FLUOR JOINT VENTURE RECEIVES FINAL NOTICE-TO-PROCEED ON INTERSTATE 35EPROJECTINDALLAS FluorCorporation announced that Lone Star Constructors, its joint venture with Austin Bridge & Road, has been granted final notice-to-proceed by the Texas Department of Transportation that releases the full contract value and positions the venture for construction to begin on Phase 2 in summer of 2022 for the Interstate 35E project from Interstate 635 in Dallas to the Denton County line in Carrollton, Texas. “This project is part of TxDOT’s long-term plan to meet current and future travel demands by improving

overall mobility, operational efficiency, accessibility, safety and emergency response,” said Thomas Nilsson, president of Fluor’s Infrastructure business. “When completed, this project will help alleviate traffic congestion to the surrounding communities and improve connectivity for all people in the Dallas metroplex.” The 6.3-mile design-build project includes full reconstruction and expansion of six existing lanes to eight with new auxiliary lanes at entrance and exit ramps, along with the reconstruction of frontage roads along the corridor. Two existing reversible toll lanes will also be reconstructed.

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about the projects and ideas driving the AEC industry forward? Learn more with Civil+Structural Engineer Media.


point often gets overlooked when firms just focus on the action versus immediate return. Your firm needs to be where conversations are happening (online). Like everything else, community involvement is something that has now gone online in many ways, and participating in discussions and being able to view available opportunities is the bare minimum for successful participation. What your firm and its people do online is the modern-day office lobby experience. 3. How clients will experience your firm online while they are working on a project with you. Your firm has a responsibility to be responsive, present, and also positively promote the projects and organizations you are working with. If a client wants to mention your firm, can they link to your website or a social media profile easily? Other aspects of the client experience involve your firm’s technical capabilities – does your firm have a way to upload and send documents securely and easily online? Do these things reflect your firm’s brand? Is your firm aware, awake, and monitoring? If a community member is talking about a project that your firm is involved in online, are you aware of these conversations? Is someone from your firm available to respond if necessary? 4. How your firm delivers their services online. Almost all AEC firms are now delivering some of their services or communicating with clients via online methods. Are all these touchpoints reflective of your brand? Are you using the platforms your clients find most convenient and efficient? Are you utilizing your website and social media for tactful cross-selling opportunities? All of these factors are important to consider when developing your firm’s e-commerce strategy. E-commerce does apply to AEC. Although we all are busier than ever, it’s important to devote time and have a solid strategy for everything related to your firm online. Zweig Group performs marketing and social media audits to help AEC firms identify gaps and needed strategies. We can help you raise your firm’s profile and increase revenue with a strategic marketing plan to achieve your goals and objectives. Click here for more information! Christina Zweig Niehues is Zweig Group’s director of research and e-commerce. She can be reached at

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Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Shirley Che | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Group-1030428053722402 Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year). Free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2022, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

2022 AEC EXECUTIVE ROUNDTABLE This roundtable is a unique opportunity for AEC firm leaders to engage and interact with industry peers to discuss current issues facing firms today, explore industry trends and next practices, and confront the biggest challenges they face leading their firms. See you this June 22-24 in Dallas!

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Proposal writing best practices

With the right tools and some best practices, anyone can create a persuasive and compelling proposal.

L et’s face it, proposal writing is hard. Tight deadlines, multiple authors, vague requirements – it’s enough to make even the most experienced writer overwhelmed. And for technical staff or marketers new to writing proposals, the task can feel impossible. But with the right tools and some best practices, anyone can create a persuasive and compelling proposal.

Julia DeFrances

Here are some proposal writing best practices: 1. Know your audience. The most important person in any proposal pursuit is the client. They are the ones who decide whether you get the project, and they are the ones you are trying to impress. Before you start working on a proposal, you should think about your audience, what they value most, and how that will impact your content. When you understand who your client is and what is important, you will be able to create more impactful writing. 2. Show don’t tell. One of the ways you can demonstrate your understanding of a client and project is to back up claims with specific

examples and past successes. Don’t rely on buzzwords or statements of fact to prove your qualifications. If your client has a limited budget, it’s not enough to say, “We have experience working within tight budget constraints.” Give examples of past projects and explain how that experience will translate directly to the client’s proposed project. 3. Spend time where it counts. Time is one of the most important resources in our industry – and one of the rarest. That’s why you need to learn how to prioritize your time. Think about how the proposal will be judged and what’s going to make or break your submission. When you’re low




TRANSACTIONS CWE ACQUIRES RFE ENGINEERING, INC. CWE, a 40-person civil and environmentalengineeringfirmproviding public and private infrastructure services to clients throughout California, has acquired RFE Engineering, Inc., located in the Greater Sacramento area of California. The acquisition increases CWE’s geographic footprint, depth of resources, service offerings, and makes it more competitive against medium and large AEC service providers, while delivering real world solutions that enhance communities and the environment. Speaking of the combined expertise, JasonPereira, PE, oneofCWE’s principals, stated: “RFE and CWE will compliment each other in services and geography. The knowledge we now bring to the industry will make us more competitive, reach more clients, attract talent, and continue our mission of ‘Creating a Better Tomorrow, Today.’” RFE Engineering, Inc. president, Robert Eynck, PE, said, “[Our] work ethic and cultures are the same, making this joining of forces a win-win.” Zweig Group, a full-service AEC management advisory firm, initiated the transaction and advised CWE through the acquisition. The deal team included

Jamie Claire Kiser, Zweig Group’s managing principal, and Andrew Chavez, CM&AA, a senior analyst within Zweig Group’s Advisory Services Group. “The strategic and cultural fit has been apparent since CWE and RFE were introduced to each other,” Chavez said. “This one was a no-brainer.” RFE Engineering, Inc. is a 15 person firm that provides civil engineering, planning, andsurveyservices throughoutCalifornia. RFE Engineering, Inc. is a leader in using un-manned drone technology with a high level of accuracy and efficiency. Since 2003, RFE Engineering, Inc. has been offering value-added engineering services to a broad array of commercial, residential, and government clients out of its Roseville, California, headquarters. CWE is a rapidly growing engineering firm composed of engineers, surveyors, scientists, designers, and construction support professionals. Across their spectrum of expertise and services, CWE makes personalized connections with each client to best serve their goals and objectives, instill trust, and fulfill their commitment to providing award-winning engineering solutions that Create a Better Tomorrow, Today™.

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the leading research, publishing, and consulting resource for the built environment. The firm provides strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, marketing, business development, market research, financial management, project management, recruiting and executive search services nationwide. Zweig Group also provides a comprehensive suite of products including industry reports and surveys, executive training, and business conferences covering virtually every aspect of AEC firm management. The firm’s mission, Elevate the Industry, has five tenets: promote, diversify, educate, change, and celebrate. Zweig Group’s vision is to facilitate action in pursuit of elevating individuals, firms, and thus the industry. More than a mission, this is a movement to advance the AEC profession, creating a world that celebrates the built environment and recognizes its impact on individuals, communities, and commerce. For more information, visit zweiggroup. com or call (800) 466-6275.

fully engaged. Don’t overwhelm them with information, and think about ways to supplement text with easily digestible graphics, photos, or charts. If a client starts skimming sections because your proposal is too text heavy or long, they could miss the most important details. 5. Be proactive, not reactive. One of best ways to improve your proposals is to be proactive. Don’t wait until a deadline is approaching to create new staff resumes or project sheets; have a set process so they get done before the next proposal even starts. When materials and information are easy to pull together, you can avoid making needless mistakes when rushing. In the end, practice makes perfect. The tools above are great, but they won’t help you improve unless you put them into action. Try volunteering to take on more proposal responsibilities or look back at past proposals to see where your submissions can improve. Think about areas that take the most time, and how you can change that. Proposal writing can be intimidating, but you have to leave your comfort zone in order to grow. Julia DeFrances is a marketing coordinator at BL Companies, Inc. She can be reached at

JULIA DEFRANCES , from page 3

on time and juggling multiple deadlines, you don’t want to rush through what’s important. No one has ever lost a project because their cover isn’t exciting enough, or their project sheets weren’t in the perfect order. However, plenty of firms have lost projects because their approach feels boilerplate, confusing, or rushed. “These tools are great, but they won’t help you improve unless you put them into action. Try volunteering to take on more proposal responsibilities or look back at past proposals to see where your submissions can improve.” 4. Be brief. People have short attention spans, and that includes selection committees. Your proposal is one of many submissions they will be reviewing, so you need to make your case clearly and concisely. By keeping proposals brief, you are more likely to keep the audience

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Awork family: Tony Casagrande President of Campos Engineering (Dallas, TX), an MEP engineering, testing, adjusting and balancing, and commissioning firm.


C asagrande started with Campos Engineering in 1997 as a field technician. From there, his career rapidly evolved into project and division management. As a registered engineer, NEBB certified TAB and BSC professional, he helped to develop the firm’s technical process for commissioning and testing, adjusting and balancing services. Now, as the firm’s president, his focus is on the advancement of Campos’ services, growing into key markets, developing corporate strategies, and leading its management training programs. Casagrade is also a member of Zweig Group’s 2022 ElevateHER cohort. ElevateHER was founded by Zweig Group as part of its commitment to embrace, promote, and ensure equal opportunities for everyone in the AEC industry regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. “I place great value on my personal family and try to emulate that same sense of care toward my work family,” Casagrande says. “I try to develop a personal relationship with each and every member of my work family. We laugh together and cry together. We take care of our work family and I think that is a sincere benefit of a blended work/home family paradigm.”

A CONVERSATIONWITH TONY CASAGRANDE. The Zweig Letter: During your various positions within the firm, what knowledge/skills did you learn that you feel are most valuable in your current position? Tony Casagrande: I started as an intern and worked my way up. I’m happy this was my path because I learned many non- engineering skills. For example, I learned to: ■ ■ Use things, love people. We are in a people business and people are the greatest tool in the universe; however, people don’t want to be twisted like a screwdriver. If you sincerely love your people and demonstrate that every day, they’ll do great things for the company. ■ ■ Get out of my comfort zone and do things I don’t like to do. I learned early that connecting with influential clients, selling the firm, and solving our client’s problems would propel me ahead. I ended up being right. ■ ■ Find the best in people and ignore their faults. Get to



know people, find out what they do well and put them in positions where they’ll succeed. Any faults will become irrelevant.

my work family. We laugh together and cry together. We take care of our work family and I think that is a sincere benefit of a blended work/home family paradigm. TZL: Campos seems to be leading the way in technology in building solutions in Texas and beyond. Can you give me an example or two of how you are doing this? TC: To truly innovate, you must invest time, money, and brain power. We’ve reviewed business processes, accounting, and fee forecasting and have found better ways to do it faster and more accurately. We’ve created quicker and more detailed reports, invented apps for facility assessments and client relationship management, and we’ve looked for ways to eliminate waste and rework. As the innovative spirit took hold, we polled the team to find out other areas of needed action. We got some great ideas that we ended up building like a self-balancing system for air distribution and custom-sized flow measurement devices. We figured out how to make instruments for hundreds of dollars that we were previously buying for thousands. Innovation became a self-propagating organism within the company, and it’s changed the firm’s direction. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? TC: When I was a younger manager, I struggled to understand that no matter how hard I tried to explain, how much I tried to convince, or how strongly I felt about something, there’s no way to get everyone to agree with you. This was hard for me because I thought that getting people to think like you was the definition of a great leader. I was wrong. With the help of some great mentors, a lot of outside counsel, and hours of knee time at church, I finally figured out that people don’t need to think like me to get things done. In fact, when people are more empowered to think on their own, they feel more vested. I learned a powerful tool in leadership when I learned to help others take ownership of great ideas. TZL: What’s a recent customized MEP solution that you’re particularly proud of and why? See AWORK FAMILY, page 8 “If you sincerely love your people and demonstrate that every day, they’ll do great things for the company.”

TZL: The Campos website states that you and your leadership team have been prepping for the next phase of what’s to come for the firm. Can you give me some insight as to the exciting plans ahead? TC: We believe the AEC industry is due for a massive disruption that may make many of our current jobs obsolete. All engineering is applied math and science which means that AI should be able to do our job in an instant with far fewer mistakes and more repeatable outcomes. Technology is advancing so quickly. In my lifetime, I think buildings could be designed to a construction drawing level using programs like the ones you use to fit and buy a new car. To secure our future, we’re developing technology that can be applied to solving building owners’ problems after construction. Using the Internet of Things concept, we’re providing solutions to owners about not only what needs to be maintained, but when it needs to be maintained and how to maintain it. We also provide real time failure analysis so that critical systems can be relied upon. We see this market to exist well beyond the advent of functional AI and are planning to thrive when it happens. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? TC: We earn our clients’ trust by: ■ ■ Taking risks. In this context, it means to challenge yourself to do things for your clients, that you may not be comfortable doing. By risking your own limits, you show the client how important they are and set yourself apart as someone to be trusted. will surely build a reputation for being unreliable if you miss too many promises. ■ ■ Delivering consistent and reliable performance. There’s no such thing as a do-over. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there an overlap? ■ ■ Making and keeping promises. You TC: I believe there’s a significant overlap. I place great value on my personal family and try to emulate that same sense of care toward my work family. I try to develop a personal relationship with each and every member of


Dallas, TX





■ ■ Dallas, TX

■ ■ Fort Worth, TX

■ ■ Houston, TX

■ ■ El Paso, TX


■ ■ Aviation

■ ■ Civic

■ ■ Commercial

■ ■ Healthcare

■ ■ Higher education

■ ■ K-12 education


■ ■ MEP engineering

■ ■ Commissioning

■ ■ Testing, adjusting, and


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

MAY 9, 2022, ISSUE 1440


AWORK FAMILY , from page 7

TC: Recently, we were asked to help a healthcare client address an ongoing issue in their operating rooms. There were control failures with the humidifiers in the air handling units. During our evaluation, we discovered control valve failures, existing humidifiers that were oversized, and the use of direct injected steam from the central plant which released boiler chemicals into the supply air stream. Campos customized a solution that involved resizing the humidifiers to prevent relative humidity over-runs in the operating rooms, and also selected “clean steam” humidifiers using plant steam as the heat source. This eliminated the boiler steam from the plant from introducing chemicals into the air being supplied to the ORs. TZL: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? TC: We survey our team annually to get feedback on all of our major initiatives and strategies. Historically, there are two benefits that always get high marks. The first is our 9-80 flexible schedule and the second is our PTO program. The 9-80 flexible schedule works to provide every other Friday as an optional workday for the entire team. If projects are going out on time and things are going smoothly, most of our team takes the day off to spend time with their families or relaxing. If there are challenges that can’t be taken care of during the normal schedule, those Fridays can be used to catch up when the office is quiet. Post-COVID, we learned that many of our team were burned out and didn’t use their vacation or sick time effectively to reset and relax. There was a perception that this time should be accrued as a sort of bank account that ultimately was never spent. It was a vicious cycle. To address this, we revamped our PTO policy to increase the total amount of time available and to increase the flexibility to use the time. Instead of accruing PTO over the year, PTO is allocated on February 1 and every teammate receives four weeks of PTO; teammates with five years of service receive five weeks; teammates with 10 years receive six weeks. This pool is replenished each February 1, so they never lose any PTO. “People don’t need to think like me to get things done. In fact, when people are more empowered to think on their own, they feel more vested. I learned a powerful tool in leadership when I learned to help others take ownership of great ideas.” TZL: Ownership transition can be tricky, to say the least. What’s the key to ensuring a smooth passing of the baton? What’s the biggest pitfall to avoid? TC: Don’t wait until you’re 65 to start transitioning ownership. Make it part of your regular strategic planning. When you review key metrics, discipline yourself to look at what would happen if you were to die, leave, or retire. If you can’t put your finger on exact folks to run the company with a clear set of

Campos Engineering staff enjoying time together.

expectations and necessary skills and a funding mechanism to make it all work, then you’re going to have a bad time. After my business partner and I bought the firm from the founder in 2020, we immediately began an intentional program to identify and train future firm owners. We also scheduled a target date for our retirement so that there was an end zone. Finally, we put into place a funding mechanism so the future shareholders could actually afford to buy us out. With this strategy in place, if something unfortunate were to happen to one of us before we retire, the firm will be fine. If we can make it to the target retirement date, everyone will win and the firm will be in great hands. TZL: Being proactive in recruitment is important to Campos. What’s the process like? TC: We try to recruit 100 percent of our team from local colleges and universities to create a never-ending supply of great teammates. We attend career fairs and generally hire 10 interns each summer and sometimes over winter break. The goal is to get students familiar with what MEP engineering, commissioning, and test and balance are since most engineering programs don’t focus much on what we do. Interns who succeed are invited back the next summer or winter and our hope is that by the end of their degree program, they come to work for us. We get top notch candidates who know our culture and have six months’ experience. It’s fantastic. TZL: Howmany years of experience or large enough book of business is enough to become a principal in your firm? Are you naming principals in their 20s or 30s? TC: We have a program with a clearly defined set of desired behaviors rather than experience or book of work. We look for people who can meet the desired behaviors with a consistent track record of delivering on key metrics like quality, selling, competency, training and mentoring others, reputation in the industry and in the firm, and solving problems. We focus on traits like honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. We believe this approach garners a wider pool of candidates to include non-technical folks too. This is important because it means a high performer in marketing could be in the C-suite someday. It levels the playing field and makes for a better leadership team. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your

number one job responsibility? TC: To love and care for my team.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




Measure what matters

T he AEC business is often a relationship business. Yet, most popular project management approaches fail to address relationships as core drivers of AEC project value. Why is that? There is a disconnect between the training and skills that firms want and need for their project managers and what they provide.

Not long ago, Zweig Group surveyed project managers and firms across the country about project management. The questions ranged from addressing the level of responsibility, project management structure, project management policies, and other topics related to project management in modern AEC firms. Zweig Group also asked firms, “What do you think are your firm’s biggest training needs for project managers?” Interestingly, as seen in Figure 1 on the next page, many of the responses coalesced around interpersonal skills and relationship building. In this same survey, Zweig Group asked firms what training they provide to project managers. As seen in Figure 2 on the next page, the responses swung the other way toward measurables. A disconnect exists between the training and skills that firms want and need for their project managers and what they provide to project managers. While detailing a complex steel connection, a mentor once told me: “Difficult to draw, difficult to build.” We

can draw some parallels in project management: “Difficult to measure, difficult to teach. Difficult to teach, difficult to do.” Firms often focus large amounts of time and effort on managing scope, schedule, and resources. These key performance indicators assess project health and provide a basis for employee development and performance management. These are relatively simple elements to measure. Therefore, these elements are simple to teach, and progress in these domains is simple to evaluate. Firms often have good internal tools to execute these items. However, the focus on measurables can cause project managers to neglect relationships. I contend that firms are not measuring relationship value as intentionally as other project metrics, which causes project relationships to only get passive attention. How can we fix that? Enter the client key performance indicator. The first step to reorienting your project management

Justin Smith, P.E.

See JUSTIN SMITH, page 10



■ ■ “Lean out” your process. Take your success criteria and build the leanest possible process around these core drivers. Every step in your approach should be evaluated against the question: “Is this step/element critical to our ability to achieve success on this project?” If the answer is no, avoid building it into your project process as a necessary step. ■ ■ Manager to the front. Finally, move the PM as far to the front of the project as possible. Position the project manager as critical to the project decision-making process. This gives the PM the ability to build deeper and more trusting relationships with their counterparts during the project by having them involved from the very start. If the PM is relegated to the “doer” role, the principal is far more likely to get drawn back into the weeds of the project later on, which erodes relationship quality at the PM level. When done well, project management is where project relationships live and grow. When working with project managers, I often hear that they are looking for ways to take on more and make more of an impact. Still, they are unsure how to take the step forward in their firm or feel that the role has unnecessary burdens that prevent them from focusing on higher-value tasks. By getting clear on expectations and eliminating unnecessary tasks, you can carve out space for your project managers to take ownership over the relationships that propel your firm forward. Justin Smith is a principal at Start 2 Rise, LLC, Zweig Group’s strategic training and advisory partner in project management and leadership development. He can be reached at justin@

JUSTIN SMITH , from page 9

function to be more client-focused is to build a client or relationship KPI into every project. Several measurables exist that can be used to create this metric (Net Promoter Score, Client Feedback Scores, Client Success Reports, etc.). The right one for your firm is the one that best aligns with your goals. The key is to define success criteria for the project relationships the same way you do for your other project metrics. Then, measure it the same way you measure other project KPIs. Adding another measurable, especially one that might initially be difficult to gauge, might encounter some resistance. Project managers have a lot on their plate, and, as the engine of your firm, they need to be running efficiently to propel your firm forward. That said, the ability of your PMs to build strong relationships with clients is necessary for growing your business and making projects more successful. Suppose you want to move your project management function toward more intentionally managing project relationships. In that case, there are a few things that you can do right now to begin reorienting the role: ■ ■ Clarify the role. Crystallize how your firm idealizes the PM role and communicate that to your managers, including the project manager’s responsibility for shepherding the client relationship through the project. In the absence of clarity, your project managers are likely to make their own assumptions about what is expected. It is doubtful that they will all arrive at the same conclusion. ■ ■ Identify your success criteria. Identify how your firm evaluates project success and communicate this success criterion to project managers. Much like role clarity, achieving a uniform understanding of your success criterion requires clearly defining it to start.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT FOR AEC PROFESSIONALS This is a modern training for project managers led by a panel of experts, backed by proven research on how to best train project managers to be more effective. This course provides people-focused, science and data driven practical skills to help project leaders harness the power of their team and to create a better client experience. This course provides practical techniques that can be immediately implemented for a positive impact on any AEC team or business. Click here to learn more!

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You are in control of your business, and its success depends on your ability to keep a level head and keep making things happen. What goes up can stay up – if you do!

L et’s face it. There are a number of signs out there that this raging economy is going to slow down some. How much and exactly when, nobody knows. But that doesn’t mean you need to operate your business as if you are scared. That – being scared – isn’t going to do anything to help you be a better leader of the other people in your firm. In fact, it could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mark Zweig

I will admit that when COVID-19 first started, I was definitely scared. It made me want to unload our rental real estate portfolio as fast as possible. We sold about $18 million worth of heavily-leveraged real estate in the 18-24 months that followed. If we would have kept all of our properties another six to 12 months, we would have made several million dollars more than we did. But I panicked, and it undoubtedly cost us dearly. Your job is to keep your business growing and profitable no matter what. And you can do that as long as you keep your head on straight. What is happening with the external environment, or with other firms in this business, does not have to happen to YOUR business. You are in control of your business, and its success depends on your ability to keep a level head and keep making things happen.

Here are my suggestions for how you can do that. Whether or not these tactics will work for you, I can’t say. But they do help me: 1. Go on a news and social media diet. Too much of it and you will find you have a negative attitude. News media outlets focus on bad news. It’s what keeps people glued to them. That sells more ads. So recognize that is what they are trying to do – to get you upset. Find one or two sources you like – my preference is for certain newspapers or online news providers (from what are or what used to be newspapers) – and stick with them for a limited amount of time each day. 2. Watch your associations. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances, and most of them are very

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



BUSINESS NEWS AECOM TO DEVELOP FIRST PHASE OF INNOVATIVE HUMBER ZERO CARBON CAPTURE PROJECT AECOM, the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, announced it is leading the effort to obtain the consents and permits for the Humber Zero project, which will contribute to the decarbonization of critical industry in the Humber region of Northern England, U.K. The Humber Zero project will integrate carbon capture and storage technology into units at the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery and VPI Immingham combined heat and power plant. By 2030, the project is expected to capture up to 8 million tons of CO 2 annually at source before it is transported via pipeline to permanent storage sites under the North Sea. Carbon capture will integrate specialist technology into the existing processing units and plants, including absorption techniques to capture and recover the CO 2 . “The Humber Zero project reflects

the importance of advancing key sustainability initiatives that create a positive impact on the communities where we operate, which is a key component of our Sustainable Legacies strategy,” said Lara Poloni, AECOM’s president. “By integrating world-class carbon capture and storage technology, we are demonstrating how we can help take important steps towards reaching net zero emissions and creating positive social value.” AECOM, supported by planning consultants DWD, will oversee the Humber Zero project through the permitting phase, preparing planning and permit applications and supporting the environmental impact assessment. This work will include a detailed review of the impact the Humber Zero project may have on the local environment and community. Jonathan Briggs, VPI project director for Humber Zero said: “Humber Zero will secure critical industry in the Humber

region, which is home to more than 25 percent of the U.K.’s refining capacity. Decarbonizing industry will ensure its competitiveness and help secure tens of thousands of jobs in the region and beyond.” AECOM is committed to delivering its transformative environmental, social, and governance objectives through its Sustainable Legacies strategy, ensuring the work it does in partnership with clients leaves a positive impact for years to come. AECOM is the world’s trusted infrastructure consulting firm, delivering professional services throughout the project lifecycle – from planning, design and engineering to program and construction management. On projects spanning transportation, buildings, water, new energy, and the environment, our public- and private-sector clients trust us to solve their most complex challenges.

5. Be opportunistic. If we go into a recession, that will always provide new opportunities for those who can see them and act on them. For example, the M&A business – just like the real estate business – is raging right now. There are many more buyers than there are sellers, and that has made prices higher. But if the industry has a slowdown, there may be more sellers than there are buyers. That could provide you with a real opportunity if you have some resources and are brave enough to use them to acquire other companies. Think about that, and be ready if it occurs. 6. Be open-minded about adding new services or offerings. Changing markets create new needs. What can you do to help your clients that you aren’t doing now? Businesses that do well over the long haul are usually those that can adapt quickly. Having the right services when they are needed is a big part of this. I recall one of the engineering firms l was a part of in the early and mid-‘80s – back when interest rates were 18 percent – found itself in a real dry spot. We quickly got into asbestos abatement, and the truth is it probably saved the company. What else will your clients be needing? Now is the time to start thinking about it. Sustainable high performance is what leadership is all about. You have to perform in good times and bad. Your attitude as a leader of your AEC firm is critical to your ability to keep everyone up and working positively. Just by nature of the fact you are reading this tells me that you can do it! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

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positive, can-do people. If you are young, perhaps you may find some older people have a better perspective on things that will help them be optimistic no matter what is happening. I will confess that I do have a preference for entrepreneurs. They are used to facing obstacles and overcoming them. The successful ones aren’t beaten down and don’t give up easily, and I find that inspirational. 3. Read inspirational content and watch inspirational, “feel good” movies. Biographies or stories of people who overcame obstacles, fictions where the heroes prevail, happy stories. I will confess that I actually enjoy what we call in our household for lack of a better name, “Hallmark movies”. For example, my new friend Scott Wolf was in a recent Netflix movie, Rescued by Ruby . It’s about a K-9 officer and his dog. Some may think it is corny or cheesy, but watching it made me feel good. I can say the same thing about Will Smith’s King Richard , a movie about Venus and Serena Williams and how their dad supported them and guided their rise in the tennis world in spite of every obstacle you can imagine. 4. Focus on the positive things happening in your business in your internal communications. Write a weekly email to your employees, and get across the idea that things are going well, that there are many small victories to celebrate, and in short, that you are successful. That will help keep everyone else motivated instead of being scared and beaten down. Your goal is to fight fear! Fearful employees will not be high performers.

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