TZL 1459 (web)

The PDF edition of The Zweig Letter.

October 3, 2022, Issue 1459 WWW.ZWEIGGROUP.COM


Principals’ peers

If there are people with dominating or off-set personalities on your leadership team, it could be time for a change. Course correction

FIRM INDEX Arup.............................................................................. 12 Balfour Beatty.........................................................8 BGE, Inc.........................................................................4 BOD Arquitectura e Ingeniería.................10 Grace Hebert Curtis Architecture..............2 Hickok Cole.............................................................12 Manhard Consulting ........................................... 6 Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC............10 Urban Engineers....................................................4 WSP.............................................................................. 10 MORE ARTICLES n DANIELLE EISENSTOCK: An employee-first approach Page 3 n Living firm values: Don Manhard Page 6 n NEA MAY POOLE: Apprenticing Page 9 n MARK ZWEIG: Improving organizational self-image Page 11 Many principals have peers they didn’t “choose.” In Zweig Group’s Principals, Partners & Owners survey, principals were asked, if they could do it all again, would they choose the same or different peers? Above, you can see the results of those who chose “different.” The highest percentage of principals chose “different” in 2020. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication.

T his last month we were able to celebrate hundreds of firms in the industry that either have exceptional cultures (Best Firms To Work For) or have grown their enterprises at an impressive clip (Hot Firms) – or even better, both! As part of the ElevateAEC experience, we had a great slate of speakers and presenters. Pete Hinojosa from Insperity provided a comical sketch summarizing the quadrants of a behavioral assessment called DISC. DISC stands for Dominance, Inducement, Submission, Compliance and apparently the result of the assessment can help predict an individual’s job performance. Pete’s explanation of how each of the characteristics can emerge in a personality and how they can be interpreted by peers was spot on and comical. Every individual is some combination of the four and their ego reflects these traits accordingly. In the AEC industry (and certainly at the higher levels of the org chart), we are dealing with lots of ego. Some people absolutely can’t get enough of themselves! These personalities, and conflicts between various personalities, can generate a dynamic where there’s an inability to coordinate with one another. Leadership’s charge to build consensus and allow team members to successfully realize their own goals, while fulfilling an overall objective for the entity, is so important. However, some people are amazingly bound by their ego and can’t get out of their own way – even in the face of honest feedback. They want to be the dominant figure in every conversation. They talk louder, longer, and with more words to accomplish this. It’s an exhausting act to watch and attempt to follow. When you couple this with the level of ambition this personality type usually has, it gets even more exhausting. There’s little to no regard for how their approach impacts others’ perceptions of an objective because they can’t see how far off-base they are with their audience. This is a problem! When a firm is looking at succession planning and the development of new roles and responsibilities, individuals must understand where they fit in – and quite frankly where they don’t. Trying to create a role to fulfill someone’s personal objective can have an adverse reaction at the organizational level. Every AEC firm goes through a lifecycle and its key people need to understand how they can contribute with their highest and best use in times of change. In the context of ownership transition, succession planning, and leadership development come

Will Swearingen




TRANSACTIONS BERNHARD CAPITAL LAUNCHES AEC PLATFORM WITH INVESTMENT IN ZWEIG GROUP CLIENT GRACE HEBERT CURTIS Bernhard Capital has launched a dedicated AEC platform with an investment in Zweig Group client Grace Hebert Curtis Architecture. GHC will continue to be led by CEO Jerry Hebert and its current management team, which will retain a significant stake in the business. Zweig Group advised GHC through this transaction, and the deal team included Jamie Claire Kiser, managing principal at Zweig Group.

“This is an exciting step in the next phase of Grace Hebert Curtis’ growth trajectory,” Kiser said. “This partnership is reflective of the ambition and entrepreneurialism that Zweig Group has admired over the years in our work with Grace Hebert Curtis.” Bernhard Capital will support the ongoing growth of GHC and build on the company’s recent momentum. The firm plans to leverage its critical infrastructure services expertise with this platform to partner with the best-in-class businesses supporting the growing demand for modern, sustainable infrastructure.

Interested in learning more

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

WILL SWEARINGEN, from page 1

squarely into focus and prompt action as expectations for our key people change with the times. One of the things we advise as a qualifier for becoming an owner in an AEC firm is the ability to perceive, use, manage, and handle emotions i.e., have emotional intelligence. Below I’ve outlined a few of the pillars of emotional intelligence as defined by Dan Goleman. ■ Self-awareness. Being able to see how others perceive you and understanding if that aligns with your internal value system. The ability to modify our behaviors based on our setting requires a balance (without being overly self-aware!) as we understand each situation in context. ■ Self-regulation. Being able to revise a behavior in response to an emotional event. Being mindful of your long-term goals and reacting (or not) within that context. ■ Motivation. Modifying your behavior in the pursuit of a goal. This is important as ambition and motivation must work together to “better our best” and are the reason for behaving a certain way in pursuit of a goal. ■ Empathy. It may feel like it’s an overused word these days, but you have to be able to create the capacity to understand what another person is feeling or experiencing. ■ Social skills. Quite simply these are the competencies for facilitating verbal or non- verbal communication, which is so important in AEC because our people are our most important asset. When you have off-base personalities in your orbit, regulating each of these in a way that’s productive can be a challenge. As leaders we are sometimes called to action to figure out how to course correct a situation. Zweig Group has helped numerous leadership teams navigate delicate succession planning dynamics that deal with dominating or otherwise off-set personalities. My advice would be to figure out how you can collectively pursue a path to course correct or define the alternative. Will Swearingen is a principal and director of ownership transition advisory services at Zweig Group. He can be reached at

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THE PRINCIPALS ACADEMY The Principals Academy is Zweig Group’s flagship training program encompassing all aspects of managing a professional AEC service firm. Elevate your ability to lead and grow your firm with this program designed to inspire and inform existing and emerging AEC firm leaders in key areas of firm management. Join us November 3-4 in Arlington, Texas. Click here to learn more!

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An employee-first approach

T urnover is contagious. In 2020, Limeade reported that 38 percent of employees have been encouraged to leave with a coworker. Each turnover is estimated to cost a company 20 percent to 33 percent of an employee’s annual salary in lost work time and the hiring and training process of a replacement. Highlighting your commitment to career growth, flexible work options, and open communication will show staff your firm has an employee-first approach.

Danielle Eisenstock, APTD

Employees leave for varying reasons – including a lack of career development and opportunities, work- life imbalance, and a poor relationship with their manager – but many resignations are preventable. If you want to understand why employees are leaving, consider thinking about why others are staying. When you identify these factors, you need to ensure they are accessible to all of your employees and that staff can fully utilize the benefits your company offers. Before you can provide positive benefits – the employees need to stay. The highest percentage of employees leave within the first six months to one year of employment. Highlighting your commitment to career growth and advancement, flexible work options, and managers and firm leaders who are open to communication will

show staff your organization has an employee-first approach to making sure they succeed as much as your firm does. CAREER GROWTH AND ADVANCEMENT. Have you ever been given a task and thought, “Why am I even doing this?” You are not alone. Employees want to find meaning in the work they do and how it fits into the bigger picture. If an employee is great at putting reports together, don’t get stuck in the habit of only going to them to complete this task. Make sure you consider what interests each employee has – and sometimes it’s as simple as asking what they enjoy. Allow employees to experience various opportunities. They may even discover something new they enjoy or




ON THE MOVE JENNY URCAN JOINS BGE TO LAUNCH JACKSONVILLE OFFICE BGE, Inc. announced that industry leader Jenny Urcan, PE, has joined the firm as Director of Land/Site Development to launch the firm’s presence in Jacksonville, Florida. Urcan brings nearly 20 years of specialized expertise in civil engineering to BGE, including multi-million- dollar project management, land development, due diligence, and site design and permitting. She is known for her professionalism, organizational skills and technical ability, as well as her ability to create teaming environments that best suit the needs of the client

and project. Urcan, along with Senior Consultant Jim Robinson, will focus on establishing BGE’s service offerings in the Jacksonville market. “We couldn’t be more excited to be expanding our presence in Florida,” said BGE Southeast Region Operations Leader Randy Randermann. “Jenny has a great reputation in the Jacksonville market and we can’t wait to see what doors she’s able to open for us.” A registered professional engineer in Florida, Urcan received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida. She is a member

of the Urban Land Institute, Women in Defense First Coast Chapter and Society of American Military Engineers. Ranked No. 105 in Engineering News- Record’s 2022 Top 500 Design Firms, BGE, Inc. is a nationwide consulting firm that provides a comprehensive range of engineering, environmental, surveying, construction management, and planning and landscape architecture services for public and private clients. Founded in 1975, the firm employs 900 people with offices in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia.

3. Inclusion is key for those who work in the office versus those who work remotely. Provide opportunities where everyone is included regardless of where they are working. When considering someone for a new opportunity, involve everyone in that decision-making process, not just those who are in the office. It is key to provide management with training on inclusion for hybrid workers. “Investing in an employee-first approach can be part of the cure in creating a workforce that feels more appreciated, has opportunities to learn new skills and grow, and can balance work and home life.” GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH MANAGEMENT/MANAGER. Employees report that they will stay because of a good relationship with – and recognition from – their manager. Many supervisors are promoted into the position because of their high technical proficiency – which takes years of schooling, on-the-job training, certifications, and more. When someone is promoted to management, it often comes without the education and training to excel in the position. That’s where you come in – when someone is promoted, management and leadership skills should be treated the same as technical skills, where training and development is required to succeed. It is up to leadership to provide employees with the tools they need to succeed. Investing in an employee-first approach can be part of the cure in creating a workforce that feels more appreciated, has opportunities to learn new skills and grow, and can balance work and home life. The top reasons why employees leave are also top reasons why an employee would consider staying. Lean into the needs of your employees – ask and listen – then act. Danielle Eisenstock, APTD, is the training and development manager at Urban Engineers. Contact her at dheisenstock@


excel at, and can help increase the organization’s bottom line in a new way. There are many factors to consider here, but these are a few tactics to help employees to feel more engaged with the work they do: 1. Ensure managers are trained on delegation. They need to know how to delegate and how to provide employees with growth opportunities. 2. Hold companywide sessions that discuss the overall mission of the organizations. Break down how the company is doing and possible new opportunities that employees can get involved with. 3. Support employees who express an interest in something new. If feasible, allow the employee to attend a conference or training to enhance a new skill. This will show your investment in the development of that individual. FLEXIBLE WORK OPTIONS (WORK-LIFE BALANCE). If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that work-life balance was imbalanced for many individuals. People are leaving jobs in record numbers. Many are retiring early. People don’t want 70-hour work weeks that trickle into family time, free time, or time to relax and recharge. Giving employees the ability to work remotely or with a hybrid work option increases job satisfaction. With the instability of gas prices as well as school and childcare, allowing employees to approach their schedule in a way that works for them will increase loyalty and appreciation. If you want to provide the option for remote or hybrid work, here are a few training factors to consider: 1. Ensure employees are trained on the software they need to use. 2. Provide managers with training on how to hold effective weekly meetings and encourage managers to check in with individuals – not just about work.

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Living firm values: Don Manhard President and CEO of Manhard Consulting (Lincolnshire, IL), a civil engineering and surveying firm serving public and private clients nationwide.


2 022 marks 50 years of business for Manhard Consulting, and Don Manhard has been there in one way or another since the beginning. His father started the business in 1972 and it was initially an “all hands-on deck” situation. “Anyone who could help, did,” Manhard says. “For example, at a young age, well before I graduated from the University of Illinois, my brother and I went up in planes to take photos, climbed into sewers to measure inverts, ran blueprints, and served as rodmen in the field – basically, whatever tasks were needed.” So, by the time he graduated with an engineering degree and started as a staff engineer, Don had been exposed to every part of the land development business. Early on, his father included him in decisions regarding business development, recruiting and hiring, reviewing expenses, negotiating, billing, utilization, and understanding financial statements. Over the years, he’s been fortunate to be connected to other

entrepreneurs and business owners who have given him advice and mentorship. And while he thinks it’s very important to understand the ins and outs of designing and managing a project by working as an engineer, he’s discovered that he really enjoys the challenges of managing and growing a business. “After 40 years, I’m still excited about going to work each day,” he says. COVID-19 AND CULTURE. The COVID-19 pandemic provided the perfect opportunity for Don and his team to start a new practice that’s called “30 @ 30.” The entire management team across the U.S. meets for 30 minutes on the half hour to reconnect, discuss matters of importance, and feel connected as one team. Sharing the updates with their offices following the meeting helps alleviate any isolation people might feel. And, to encourage employee engagement, each office has fun events that bring teams together.



“In the end, what really matters more than anything, is actually living our values by example,” Don says. “Culture and core values should not be static and never-changing. We’ve made it a practice to review how we communicate and how we can better live our values.” “I’ve worked with our teams to grow the company while working to be certain that we have enough diversification to weather any economic (or other) storms that may challenge our business.” Through trial and error, they’ve learned that maintaining a strong company culture and consistent values as you grow takes work and dedication. Communication and embracing transparency are key and they feel that they’ve done a better job of that by sharing core values at onboarding, on their website, posting in each office, and adding it to their internal conversations. In addition, they’ve made it a practice to share how teams are performing in a monthly internal newsletter and quarterly company meetings. Here are some other practices that have helped maintain culture consistency:

flexible schedules, improved communications, and upgraded technology – all while remaining productive.” In addition to a flexible workplace and strong company culture, staff also get excited about programs that allow them to share in the growth and profits of the company. They receive unlimited PTO and there’s an enhanced corporate social responsibility program that seems to resonate with the teams. “My primary responsibility is to keep our associates engaged, challenged, and fulfilled,” he says. A GROWING PROPOSITION. Today, Manhard has 13 offices and the growth continues. Don says that when he first started with the company, the business world was very different. “The web as we know it today was in its infancy and people did most of their growth research by talking to the people who understood it the best – their clients,” he says. As a result, Manhard started out by expanding to all counties in metro Chicago to attract talent and to be closer to its clients’ projects. Then, the firm tested the waters by following a client to the Denver metro area. It was a logical expansion for them because the area was growing quickly and they were fortunate to have associates willing to make the move to open and manage a new office. Don plans to continue national growth with offices in high growth markets and sharing resources from team to team. Having been through recessions and a pandemic, he’s learned the importance of diversification in markets and services offered. “I’ve worked with our teams to grow the company while working to be certain that we have enough diversification to weather any economic (or other) storms that may challenge our business,” he says. That growth is also due to a company belief that it’s crucial to be early adopters of the latest technology because it allows teams to provide the highest level of service. Together See LIVING FIRM VALUES, page 8 “Culture and core values should not be static and never-changing. We’ve made it a practice to review how we communicate and how we can better live our values.”


Lincolnshire, IL


300 and growing



MARKETS: Industrial and

Business; Residential

and Land Development,

Retail and Mixed-Use;

Healthcare; Educational

Facilities; Recreational

When possible, new offices are managed by leaders or have associates who have spent five or more years at corporate headquarters. They have had time to live company values, so they’re better able to share it with a new office and new staff. In support of each office, senior leadership makes it a practice to spend time in each office and sit down with all associates to understand their concerns. Regional offices spend time with the entire corporate team every year. These leaders shape the culture in their office, so it’s important to bring them together to reinforce the culture and values.

and Sports Facilities;

Oil and Gas; Energy

Alternatives; Government

and Municipal


Engineering; Surveying

& Geospatial; Water

Like most firms, Manhard adjusted and redefined its workplace during COVID-19. The firm adopted a hybrid work schedule that worked for everyone. “While my preference is for all staff to return to the office, we’re being thoughtful not to slide back to pre-pandemic practices,” he says. “Our associates want the flexibility that allows them to align work with a healthy and satisfying lifestyle. We’ve responded to that need with

Resources Management;


Management; Landscape

Architecture; Land


© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

TOBER 3, 2022, ISSUE 1459


BUSINESS NEWS BALFOUR BEATTY AWARDED MORE THAN $235 MILLION IN CONTRACTS TO DELIVER PROJECTS IN CALIFORNIA Within the last six weeks, Balfour Beatty has been awarded multiple contracts totaling more than $235 million in value to construct essential K-12, correctional/ justice and federal projects across California. The project awards on behalf of local Unified School Districts, San Diego County and Marine Corps exemplifies Balfour Beatty’s reputation for exceptional service and operational excellence. As general contractor, Balfour Beatty’s recently awarded projects in California include:

fifth grade classrooms in a two-story building that features a second-level outdoor classroom area overlooking the San Bernardino Mountain range. Once the new building is constructed, renovations to the existing Kindergarten classrooms will commence. La Mesa-Spring Valley School District’s Entry Improvements and Slope Mitigation: A $4 million lease-leaseback contract as part of LMSVSD’s Measure V Bond Program for entry improvements and slope mitigation at La Mesa Arts Academy, Parkway Middle School, Spring Valley Academy and STEAM Academy. San Diego USD’s Kavod Charter School: A $28.8 million lease- leaseback contract to deliver a two- story elementary classroom building, a two-story middle school classroom building and the modernization of an existing classroom building and administration space in northern San Diego. SDUSD King Chavez Academy of Excellence’s Modernization: The $28 million project will transform its modular campus into a new state-of-the-art education facility where Balfour Beatty will replace all portable classrooms and existing administration building with new, two-story classroom buildings, a one-story administration building,

and a food service modular building and lunch shelter. San Diego County’s East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility Renovation and House Softening Improvements: The $3.4 million project includes the renovation of the building’s dayroom, the replacement of light fixtures and all mounted structures within sleeping units, and improvements to the watch tower. It will also include electrical work, flooring, millwork and ceilings, and installation of new decorative metal panels at the second-floor guardrail. Marine Corps Recruit Depo, San Diego’s P-315 Mess Hall Replacement: The $56.5 million Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command project features the construction of a new 100,427-square-foot dining facility for Marine Corps recruits that will serve 6,000 personnel and provide 1,800 meals a day.

Fontana USD’s new Secondary Academy: The $99 million lease- leaseback contract delivers a new, technologically innovative secondary school in northern Fontana. Once complete, the school will be a two-story, 154,670-square- foot building featuring an administration center, cafeteria and various learning spaces such as vocational classrooms, science labs, flexible performing arts spaces and a fitness and student center. Lakes Elementary School Renovation: The $16 million project delivers renovations to the school’s classroom building and Kindergarten classrooms. The project provides 15 new fourth and Fontana USD’s Sierra

“We’re honored to continue our Buildings legacy in California through the delivery of projects in the high-growth K-12 education, correctional/justice, and federal market sectors across the state,” said Brian Cahill, Balfour Beatty president in California. “We will leverage our extensive construction expertise and ongoing commitment to operational excellence to achieve our clients’ individual building goals, which supports their operations in providing vital services for all.”

better due diligence, and really get to know someone before you get into business together. Our firm has its roots as a family business and family was and is instrumental in making this all work. So, starting with Don’s father, his brother, wife, son, and nephews all work in the business – they’re all engaged and driven to make their clients, fellow associates, and the company a success. “Our associates want the flexibility that allows them to align work with a healthy and satisfying lifestyle. We’ve responded to that need with flexible schedules, improved communications, and upgraded technology – all while remaining productive.”


with that, it’s important to give those teams the bandwidth to use that technology to make the most informed decisions on projects. For example, on a project in Chicago, the team there noticed that the neighboring building was not plumb and was crossing the line in areas that could potentially impact construction as it went vertical. With the latest LIDAR and software technology, their field and tech manager were able to create a 3D-model of the existing building and create a map with dimensions showing areas that were crossing the line. With this information, they were able to take a closer look and make necessary changes beforehand to keep production moving. Don shares that it’s also key to hire the right people, particularly leaders or partners, when growing a company. “One wrong decision can take a toll on your existing team and what you’ve built together,” he cautions. “I’ve learned that it’s critical to be more strategic in our business decisions, perform

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If we truly want a diverse community and to provide equitable pathways to the profession, we need to support efforts to broaden the track to licensure.

A topic that is gaining increasing attention within the architecture profession is the ability to apprentice to be eligible to sit for the ARE (licensing exam) rather than going a traditional “NAAB accredited university degree with subsequent interning” route. The idea is not new; currently 15 states allow alternate paths to licensure other than a NAAB accredited degree and NCARB has pathways for architects who are licensed without a NAAB degree to get reciprocity through NCARB certification. These alternate opportunities might involve eight or more years of apprenticing under a licensed architect or a mix of an associate degree and in-office experience. However, this would not be in lieu of NCARB’s AXP experience requirements, rather this pathway would clearly require enhanced AXP.

Nea May Poole, AIA, LEED, AP

A nationally recognized acceptance of this pathway to becoming a licensed architect would open the profession to many who do not have the means to afford a five-year college education or those who succeed with experiential learning over classroom lectures. A five-year architecture degree could cost a student anywhere from $50,000 to $400,000 depending on the university, and that’s if the student was able to live at home! For many would-be architects, that price is a full stop barrier to entry to the profession, and undeniably earning money for four or five years instead of going into debt is

a very positive start to any young career. If we, as a profession, truly want a diverse community and to provide equitable pathways to the profession, we need to support efforts to broaden the track to licensure. My personal professional experience leads me to strongly believe that an intern would learn more about architecture, building science, codes, computers, construction, etc. by working for five years

See NEA MAY POOLE, page 10



TRANSACTIONS WSP ACQUIRES BOD ARQUITECTURA E INGENIERÍA IN SPAIN WSP has announced it has acquired BOD Arquitectura e Ingeniería, a 45-employee architecture and engineering firm based in Madrid, Spain. The addition of BOD will expand WSP’s Property & Buildings service offering, while boosting its visibility in Madrid and across Spain. “This acquisition is aligned with our global business strategy to strengthen our capabilities in our top three sectors, as well as our presence in OECD countries,”

said Alexandre L’Heureux, president and CEO of WSP Global. “Given our complementary services and client base, joining forces is beneficial for both WSP and BOD. It will increase our foothold in the Spanish market, with some 275 professionals now dedicated to client project delivery,” added Manuel Pérez, WSP’s managing director in Spain and Portugal. Javier Bartolomé, BOD’s CEO, commented: “WSP is the ideal partner

for BOD. We will be able to continue developing our business in existing and new market segments while offering more client services and employee opportunities.” As one of the world’s leading professional services firms, WSP exists to future- proof our cities and environment. WSP provides engineering, and design services to clients in the transportation, infrastructure, environment, building, power, energy, water, mining and resources sectors.

professionally in a small firm that taught me to be what I consider to be the “classic architect.” I was expected to start a project as a PM from a blank sheet of paper and take it all the way through the end of construction. Thirty years in the profession has shown me that my experience was more of the exception than the rule. I know and respect plenty of university trained licensed architects who have a truly remarkable understanding of how buildings go together but literally could not design a bathroom well. Others I have worked with were drawn to construction and have spent their careers focused on construction administration. Similarly, I have worked with gifted designers who had absolutely no ability to detail a wall section or put a set of construction documents together. Still others gravitate toward the running of firms and the management of people. An “architect” is not one thing and the path to becoming one does not have to be just one way. This is in no way to indicate I am against a traditional university path to licensure. I am deeply appreciative of the exposure the University of Virginia gave me not only to architecture but to literature, world history, science, even astronomy, and that I was taught how to effectively articulate ideas. I am a staunch believer in the value of a broad education and would strongly encourage anyone who has the means to take this pathway to do so. In light of this, I would hope one option to be explored would be an associate’s degree coupled with years working under a licensed architect. In recent years the AIA has made a commendable push to bring more diversity to the profession and has initiatives to promote equity and diversity. I cannot think of a single idea that would open the profession up more to people of all backgrounds than allowing those for whom a university education is not possible an alternate route to licensure. I would call upon the AIA to lead on this issue and make an initiative for a national recognition of alternate pathways to licensure a priority. This will not be a quick or easy change since each state has its own rules. However, the AIA and NCARB are looked to for guidance by many state licensing boards and were they to make this a prime concern in their push for diversity and inclusion, they would be able to effect significant positive change. Nea May Poole, AIA, LEED, AP is a principal and COO at Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC. Connect with her on LinkedIn .

NEA MAY POOLE, from page 9

in an office rather than five years at a university. If I was given a choice of someone who had been working since high school for a firm for five years versus a person graduating with a five- year degree, all other things being equal, I would, probably hire the person who had practical experience. I posed a question about this on a national discussion board for architects to better understand the reasons for resistance to alternate pathways. Not surprisingly, for a number of respondents the primary concern brought up was that in an office one does not get the design exposure one would in a university studio class or that learning on the job does not teach one to think broadly, critically, or spatially. One comment was that universities put the “art in architecture.” Most agreed that through apprenticing one might be technically competent but would never be a designer, a “true architect.” I, however, would argue these responses reflect much more poorly on the mentoring practices of some firms rather than expressing the value of a five-year degree. “A nationally recognized acceptance of this pathway to becoming a licensed architect would open the profession to many who do not have the means to afford a five-year college education.” For example, a student could learn design and broad thinking through expressing his professor’s favorite Maya Angelou poem in his design of an affordable housing project. Alternatively, the same person would also be exposed to many design considerations and, perhaps, even broader thinking if he had to weigh the concerns and comments of an owner, a zoning committee, neighborhood groups, and an ARB, all on the same project. In the end, everyone would sit for the same exam, which seems like a fair measure of what has or has not been learned. I think that this hand wringing over the lack of university- taught design experience belies the reality of architects. The profession is not a monolith and neither are the day-to-day jobs that architects do. I was fortunate enough to grow up

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E veryone keeps talking about how difficult it is to find and keep truly outstanding people in their firms. There’s a little secret on how to do that – one that I have never seen anyone write about. And that is what I call “organizational self-image.” Improving it will not only help you attract and keep good people, it will also bring in new clients. Improving this will not only help you attract and keep good people, but it will also bring in new clients. Improving organizational self-image

Mark Zweig

“Organizational self-image” is all about what your people think of your organization and how they feel about it. Do they feel like they are part of something special? Do they think the company has higher ethical standards than the other businesses they have worked for or compete with? Do they feel like winners instead of losers? Do they exhibit pride in their workplace? Do they think the preponderance of employees there feel the same way they do? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” the company has a healthy self-image. Let’s explore each of these questions and how to make them real: 1. Do your people feel they are part of something special? To make this happen, you need to tell the story of how your business was started. What

struggles were overcome to get the business off the ground and growing? What awards have you won over the years? What do long-term employees say about working at the company? Get all this stuff in writing. Put it out there in podcasts and videos and on your website. Make a serious effort to get PR from local and industry media. Share all of this with your people. 2. Do your people feel you have higher ethical standards than any other business they are aware of? Leadership has to set the example here. Have you turned down a project with a client that doesn’t meet your standards? If so, promote it. Have you fired a client that abused someone on your staff? If so, promote that. Have you blown a budget because it was necessary

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



BUSINESS NEWS COLUMBIA PROPERTY TRUST AND HICKOK COLE REVEAL THE NEWLY TRANSFORMED 80 M STREET, WITH THREE NEW FLOORS OF MASS TIMBER SPACE Columbia Property Trust, Inc. announced it has completed an innovative three-floor expansion atop 80 M Street in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront district. The 108,000-square- foot overbuild is D.C.’s first commercial office space constructed from environmentally friendly mass timber and is proving to be one of the most attractive office environments in the submarket. Columbia worked with D.C.-based architectural firm Hickok Cole, construction manager DAVIS Construction, and engineering consulting firm Arup to design and plan the unique mass timber expansion plus an expansive suite of new and improved amenities that, together, are driving leasing activity and helping 80 M Street attract and retain a prominent and diverse roster of tenants. In addition to a new 5,000-square-foot penthouse lounge

and terrace, the renovation reimagines the building’s entry and lobby with a more welcoming and contemporary design and significantly enhances the ground-floor amenity program. These efforts have helped Columbia secure 140,000 square feet of new leases and renewals at the Capitol Riverfront office building since the start of the project. This lease activity is highlighted by the previously announced deal with American Trucking Association, which is moving its headquarters to 60,000 square feet in 80 M’s expansion space. ATA will join bp America, a leader in helping the U.S. and the world reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner, which recently signed a long- term agreement to take 15,000 square feet within the mass timber expansion. Columbia also signed a new long- term lease with Walmart Inc., which will occupy 21,000 square feet of office space at mid-building. “We have transformed 80 M Street from top to bottom to give our tenants an

unrivaled Capitol Riverfront experience,” said David Cheikin, Columbia’s executive vice president – East Coast. “Integrating an innovative design, a distinctive blend of materials and finishes, and a rich package of amenities into our reinvention of 80 M has proved to attract a range of companies seeking the highest quality office environments.” Thomas Corrado, associate principal at Hickok Cole and lead architect on the 80 M Street project, continued, “The 80 M Street expansion is a direct result of a forward-focused partnership and a shared commitment to reduce the built environment’s footprint. This milestone project truly embodies Hickok Cole’s research to reality approach, serving as a testament to the impact of sustainable design and delivering an office experience unlike any other in the District.” Hickok Cole is a forward-focused design practice connecting bold ideas, diverse expertise, and partners with vision to do work that matters.

company name and logo on them. Develop an incentive scheme that rewards those who share the most good news about your company on social media. Insist that your offices maintain super high standards for cleanliness and organization, both inside and out. Do things as a team for selected charities and, of course, promote, promote, and promote! This is how you do it! 5. Do they think the preponderance of employees there feel the same way they do? Apply for Zweig Group’s Best Firms to Work For award. Apply for other best workplace awards. Manage and share your Glassdoor ratings and drive them up. Get people telling stories of something positive that has happened recently as a part of every company meeting. And if you find out you have a negative employee at any level of the organization, either turn them around or get them out – quickly. They are a cancer that can spread, and you can’t afford that. None of this stuff is expensive or that difficult to do. You can make all of it happen. And if you do, I have complete confidence that over time, you will see a steady stream of good people wanting to work for your firm, lower staff turnover rates, higher productivity, higher rates of job satisfaction on any polling you do, and more clients wanting to work with your company. All of this comes from improving your organizational self-image. For you, as a leader, this should be at the top of your priority list. There are just too many benefits for you to ignore this! Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

to do something properly that was essential to your reputation? If so, promote it. Look for examples and stories where you and your people did the right thing, in spite of what could be short-term negative financial consequences – and promote the heck out of these stories inside and outside the company. “For you, as a leader, this should be at the top of your priority list. There are just too many benefits for you to ignore this!” 3. Do your people feel like winners instead of losers? Share the financial results with everyone regularly and cut in every employee on some share of the profits. Get on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies. Apply for Zweig Group’ Hot Firm award. Collect and share the stories of new clients and new projects won with your people – every single day. Show how you have historically climbed the ENR Top 500 Design Firms list. Spread the news about your people’s new registrations and awards won, as well as their other accomplishments. Promote all of these things so there is a constant stream of good news about how your firm and your people are winning. 4. Do your people exhibit pride in their workplace? Give out tons of swag. Provide shirts, jackets, hats, notebooks, notepads, stickers, and more to your people with your

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