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BUSINESS NEWS BURNS & MCDONNELL AND PLTW ANNOUNCE THREE YEAR INVESTMENT IN STEM OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS Burns & McDonnell announced its commitment to giving $1.5 million over the next three years to implement Project Lead The Way programs with 100 percent of the donation going directly to schools across the U.S. Over the last 25 years, PLTW has transformed the learning experience of millions of PreK-12 students and their teachers throughout the U.S. by providing real-world STEM-based curriculum in

engineering, computer science, and biomedical science pathways. The partnership between Burns & McDonnell and PLTW will spark an interest in students for years to come and will empower the next generation of STEM leaders. Burns & McDonnell has partnered with PLTW to increase access to and participation in PLTW programs for underserved students within the Burns & McDonnell communities in states such as Arizona, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia. Schools within a 25-mile radius

of Burns & McDonnell locations are eligible to apply for grant opportunities. This funding will assist PreK-12 schools in implementing new or expanding existing PLTW programs. “Our future depends on the next generation of STEM leaders and their ability to solve problems and uncover new solutions to tough challenges,” says Ray Kowalik, chairman and CEO, Burns & McDonnell. “We’re committed to PLTW and its mission to increase access to STEM learning opportunities for all students.”

worth of work, manage large teams of technical and marketing staff, communicate like the president’s public relations lead, sell like Amazon, write like a best-selling author, layout a page like the New York Times , develop a complex visual like a graphic designer, coach interviews like it’s March Madness. We want the best of the best. Then we get them, and managers undervalue their contribution and skill set by saying things like, “We will handle this, but we need you to make it pretty.” This sentiment becomes even more problematic when directed toward women, who have been historically associated with synonymous phrases like “doll up” or “glam up.” “Marketing professionals are being recognized for the important role they play in brand awareness and differentiation, business development, and client satisfaction. Simply put, marketing is critical to profitability and people know it.” A result of marketing should, in fact, be consistent, professional-looking, and aesthetically pleasing documents, proposals, collateral, and presentations, but that is neither the main goal of marketing nor where marketers add the most value. Marketers give you an edge over the competition and build business through market research, strategic planning, client development, proposal management, and brand recognition, among other activities. They help you think like your audience, develop clear messaging, and win work. It’s about time we modify our language and behaviors to reflect that contribution. As a proposal manager at Burns & McDonnell, Mercedez Thompson collaborates with business development and project management leadership to define distinctive value propositions and execute proposal win strategy within the Water practice. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Yet, every time I get together with my peers for professional development, I am reminded of the long road ahead of us. As such, I think it’s worthwhile to continue the conversations around what marketing is and is not and why it’s critical to your bottom line. MARKETING IS NOT A CATCH-ALL. As a principal of an engineering firm, would you ever ask your electrical engineer to manage HVAC work? Or ask your bridge project manager to oversee the design of a wastewater facility? Probably not. For many reasons, but specifically because they were not trained in that discipline, it is not their area of expertise, and there are other people far better qualified for that work. So why is it that we expect our marketing staff to know anything and everything about, well – everything? A remnant from the days when marketing was expendable and often executed by administrative staff between other tasks, the inclination to throw everything at your marketers has lingered. Marketers are tasked with booking flights and hotels, ordering food and coffee, making reservations, and managing expense sheets. Marketers are asked to be IT professionals, HR reps, recruiters, personal assistants, corporate photographers and videographers, accountants, event planners, you name it. Marketers are often creative problem solvers with great attention to detail, excellent communication skills, and an aptitude for multi-tasking – making them the perfect go- getters to tackle varied tasks. When managers have a rockstar marketer with far-ranging skills and a desire to execute work outside of their job description, the least those managers can do is have a conversation about availability and compensation needs for additional work. Leadership affords technical professionals the respect of assigning them work that is in their wheelhouse and reasonably achievable. That level of respect should be extended to marketing professionals. MARKETERS DO MORE THAN MAKE IT PRETTY. Regardless of intention, this one never sits right. In fact, let’s just take it out of our vocabulary altogether. Typically, even entry-level marketing positions require a four-year degree. Lately, I’ve seen senior-level postings calling for an advanced degree or professional certification on top of 10 or more years of experience. We want candidates who win billions of dollars’

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