T R E N D L I N E S J u n e 2 1 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 3 9 7 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M
Principals’ career goals
If you’re willing to go the extra mile to help young professionals grow, they will also go that extra mile for you. Accelerating development
E mployees often view their career growth as a linear path; promotions that eventually progress to leadership positions. This mindset has been instilled into generations of working Americans, and for good reason. We must develop core competencies required for success at each level. But as young professionals, we’ve wondered if there is a way to accelerate career growth for those with the aptitude and desire to be future leaders in our industry. We have seen young professionals in our client’s organizations promoted quickly into leadership positions, so it seems that the accelerated approach is feasible in many industries. So, how can we do this in the AEC industry? To be clear, we’re not suggesting skipping steps in the career trajectory. In our industry especially, it’s important to learn from the different roles we serve from entry-level on, but we think there is a way to expedite professional development. While an up-and-comer must put in the time and effort (often beyond typical work hours), managers play a critical role in accelerating their growth. We think that by focusing on three specific things, managers can really assist in kicking-off a young professional’s growth: 1)Identify the right person. In today’s world, time is a precious commodity; therefore, it’s critically important that a manager’s investment of time yields return. Perhaps think of investing the time with someone you feel may serve as your replacement, so as they grow, you can also expand your area of influence. To ensure managers select the right person to mentor or coach, we suggest looking for young professionals that possess intrinsic motivation. These folks have an innate desire to better themselves and to help those around them. They take ownership in small as well as large tasks. They take initiative to complete tasks without being told to do so. These people will put in extra effort beyond the scope of their job title. Frankly, we don’t think we are alone when we say these are also the type of team members with whom we’d like to work. If managers are able to swiftly identify young people like this and provide them support in the ways listed below, the chance of accelerating their growth increases considerably. 2)Get to know and provide constant feedback. As young professionals, we yearn for managers to express an interest in us and take us under their guidance, even if we don’t verbalize it explicitly. This doesn’t solely take place through technical conversations; in fact, we think that getting to know your understudy personally is the best way to develop a rapport. By getting to know the individual behind
In Zweig Group’s 2021 Principals, Partners & Owners Report of AEC Firms , we asked principals about their personal career goals and whether these goals had been exceeded , met , or not met at this stage in their career. When split up by specific job title, there’s a clear trend that appears as presidents and CEOs were more likely to say their goals had been exceeded while VPs or principals were more likely to say their goals had not been met just yet. While goals may not be all about title, it’s noteworthy to see the aspirations of those at the bottom of the corporate ladder wanting to start that climb. Participate in a survey and save 50 percent on the final or pre- publication price of any Zweig Group research publication. F I R M I N D E X //3877.....................................................6 ADEC Innovations.................................12 Dewberry................................................4 HMMH....................................................8 Pennoni. .................................................4 SCS Engineers........................................2 Tutor Perini Corporation. .........................2 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz JAKE VOORHEES: Keeping up in the new normal Page 3 xz Humility: David Shove-Brown Page 6 xz ROB HUGHES : Professional liability applications Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG: Get 110 percent effort out of your people Page 11
See MONTGOMERY SPILLANE & DILLON REIO, page 2
T H E V O I C E O F R E A S O N F O R T H E A E C I N D U S T R Y
ON THE MOVE MICHAEL SMITHSON JOINS TUTOR PERINI TO LEAD THE BUILDING AND SPECIALTY CONTRACTORS SEGMENTS Tutor Perini Corporation , a leading civil, building and specialty construction company, announced that Michael Smithson recently joined the company as an executive vice president to lead and manage the growth and future success of the Building and Specialty Contractors segments. Previously, Smithson was a senior vice president at Skanska USA for nine years, where he was responsible for Skanska’s heavy civil projects located within Los Angeles County and its underground heavy civil projects in the western United States. Prior to joining Skanska USA, he worked for Kenny Construction in Chicago for seven years. Smithson has earned a bachelor’s degree in geologic engineering from Purdue University in Indiana and a master’s degree in civil
engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ronald Tutor, chairman and chief executive officer of Tutor Perini, commented, “We are pleased to welcome Mike to our management team and look forward to working with him to drive the next phase of the company’s growth.” Tutor Perini Corporation is a leading civil, building and specialty construction company offering diversified general contracting and design-build services to private clients and public agencies throughout the world. Tutor Perini Corporation has provided construction services since 1894 and has established a strong reputation within its markets by executing large, complex projects on time and within budget while adhering to strict quality control measures.
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about the projects and ideas driving the AEC industry forward? Learn more with Civil+Structural Engineer Media.
MONTGOMERY SPILLANE & DILLON REIO, from page 1 the employee, a manager is laying the foundation needed for a successful relationship. Ultimately, this relationship is what facilitates the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and core values. With that said, we can’t talk about our favorite sports team all day; there needs to be a great deal of technical guidance behind these conversations. From the young person’s perspective, consistent and constructive feedback on work performance is the most beneficial to our development. Examples of this may be providing feedback on effectiveness in client calls and quality of deliverables. Take the time to explain why you steered the client in a specific direction or why you worded that sentence differently. If you share these details with us, it eliminates the guesswork on our end and promotes deeper understanding. We believe that managers who share the big picture and provide detailed feedback will better prepare their young professionals for the inevitable pitfalls associated with added responsibility, thus accelerating their employees’ growth. 3)Challenge. While we’ve discussed identifying the right people, we want to elaborate on what else managers can do to help employees progress. Not only should managers provide feedback to employees, but they should also actively seek to challenge their employees. A good place to start is by asking young professionals their perception of areas in which they excel and areas they need improvement. If you’ve correctly identified the right person, they will be humble enough to evaluate themselves honestly, because their improvement and the team’s improvement is paramount. Further, we want to work with managers who are willing to push us to expand in areas of excellence, but also willing to work with us in areas we are deficient. Challenge us to grow where we are weak, and be willing to engage when we have questions. This can be in technical knowledge or soft-skills. Nurturing young people for leadership roles does take time, even if after identifying those motivated young players at an early stage in their career. In our experience working with senior and seasoned professionals, it is remarkable how apparent it is when someone does take the time to work with us when we need help. It demonstrates that person has a vested interest in our growth as employees. If you’re willing to go the extra mile to help young professionals grow as professionals, they will also go that extra mile for you. MONTGOMERY SPILLANE, P.G. is a project professional at SCS Engineers. Contact her at email@example.com. DILLON REIO , G.I.T. is a senior project professional at SCS Engineers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
O P I N I O N
Keeping up in the new normal
I n early 2020, we quickly transitioned from the longest NYSE bull market in history to what the International Monetary Fund describes as, “the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s.” With these huge economic changes, engineering firms and leaders are required to evolve their team management and culture dynamics forever. Whether it be remote flexibility considerations, how firms make strategic growth decisions, or hiring tactics in general, engineering workplace culture is changed forever.
Even though we may be crawling out of the pandemic as the CDC lifts mask mandates across the nation, the engineering manager’s “Running Your Team 101” playbook is just now being re-written during the new normal. Because of this, we are seeing an unprecedented shift in engineering firm culture. As we enter the shift, there are several questions on your mind right now if you work for an engineering firm. The flagship question is often, “Will my remote work and COVID-19 flexibility remain the same forever?” If we dial back to early-pandemic, tech companies responded to the crisis immediately. Many announced they would allow their employees to work from home permanently. This adaptive list includes brands like Google, Microsoft, Twitter,
Square, Facebook, Dropbox, Shopify, and many more. Are you surprised by this though? However, emulating Silicon Valley thinking is generally impossible for the engineering sector. Then in July of 2020, Siemens, “a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, mobility, and healthcare” which employs thousands of engineers, made a big announcement. They decided to allow 140,000 employees (of 385,000 total staff) to work wherever they want for two or three days a week. If a company the size of Siemens can do this, one that employs tens of thousands of engineers, there is no reason why some of the largest U.S. based AEC firms cannot be adaptive as well.
See JAKE VOORHEES, page 4
THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
BUSINESS NEWS KIM PIERSON NAMED AMONG CONSULTING- SPECIFYING ENGINEER’S 40 UNDER 40 LIST Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced that Kim Pierson, PE, PMP, LEED Green Associate, has been named among this year’s Consulting- Specifying Engineer ’s list of 40 Under 40 winners. Pierson was selected out of more than 100 nominees for her contributions to the engineering industry and her community. Pierson is an assistant project manager in the firm’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) group, and works as part of the asset management team. She is based in the firm’s Raleigh, North Carolina, office and has eight years of experience. Pierson is an interdisciplinary engineer with a background in
new projects and renovations of all sizes and functionality. Her experience includes MEP designs for building systems, construction administration, and technology management. “I have been passionate about the world of engineering for as long as I can remember, and I’m honored to receive this recognition,” says Pierson. “The built environment is critical to our infrastructure, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to be involved in such an industry.” Pierson earned a master’s degree in civil engineering (2012) and a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering (2011) from Kansas State University. She is a long-time member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating,
and Air Conditioning Engineers, where she has held various leadership positions and presented at conferences nationwide. Earlier this year, Pierson was presented with ASHRAE’s Distinguished Service Award. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.
JAKE VOORHEES, from page 3
only required within strategic decision making as seen with Lloyd et al. It also must be experienced within the hiring process for civil engineering firms across the board. The American Council for Engineering Companies (ACEC) conducts surveys in order to gauge hiring difficulty within our sector. In May 2020, Katharine Mottley, the vice president of Tax and Regulatory Affairs at ACEC National Headquarters said, “There is an overall talent shortage in the engineering industry that makes it challenging for firms to serve their clients as fully as they would like. Firms are having trouble finding enough professionally licensed engineers, architects, and surveyors, especially those with 10 to 15 years of experience. There is a pronounced lack of experienced mechanical and electrical engineers due in part to the NSF data point above. Engineering firms also face a shortage of skilled individuals who have or can earn technical certifications for lab and field work. In addition, engineering firms report significant challenges in recruiting individuals with project management experience, as well as mid-level and senior- level leaders. Finally, smaller engineering firms state that it is particularly difficult for them to recruit experienced engineers, especially if relocation would be required. Three- quarters of ACEC member firms have 100 employees or fewer.” Jess Bishop and Don Morgan who lead our recruiting arm at Pennoni have had to step outside the box while searching for talent. Standard job postings and recruiter strategies are not enough today. Recruitment tactics today could mean expanding the talent avatar for a specific role to three or four versions of what the potential hire “could be” and searching within that lens. It could mean establishing a more refined referral system internally, or amplifying university engagement to drum up more new hires. Whether it be remote flexibility considerations, how firms make strategic growth decisions, or hiring tactics in general, engineering workplace culture is changed forever. What is your firm doing to keep up in the new normal? JAKE VOORHEES is marketing manager at Pennoni. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
A second way that culture must shift within engineering is removing our “but this is how we do it” mindset. Imagine how firms historically expanded into a new market. First you would have to find a snowball opportunity – a big enough project that guarantees revenue and enables an engineering company to pull the trigger on larger expenditures. Things like signing a four- or five-year lease on a new office, hiring admin staff for that office, buying lots of furniture, and relocating or recruiting senior leadership to the region. But does this model work during COVID-19? Absolutely not. What if all of this was switched? That is exactly what Pennoni and Alan Lloyd did when expanding into the New England market. Last year, Alan met a young professional named Nic Vasquez whose life was already in the process of relocating him to the Northeast where he was looking for an industrial hygienist/hazardous materials opportunity. Alan was excited to meet Nic – but Nic’s destination city was Boston – a city where Pennoni, at the time, housed zero of our 33 offices. Normally this scenario would have been a simple and hard no: “Sorry, no opportunities here.” But times are different now. Alan and fellow decision makers at Pennoni flipped the script. They strategized with Nic about how he could start a satellite office, keep operations super lean, and work out of a co-working space with zero staff. He could then hit the scene with boots on the ground, and from day one, start developing business. So we went for it. And within 60 days, Nic won his first six-figure contract for Pennoni and is well on his way to establishing a Bostonian future for our company. This type of flexibility and nimble corporate thinking is mandatory when finding opportunities in 2021 and beyond. When it comes to engineering culture, this agility is not
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THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
An enriching experience full of thought leaders, next practices and the ultimate source of learning, networking, and celebration for firms across the AEC industries. This year, Zweig Group’s annual Elevate AEC Conference is in two formats: the FREE Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHer Symposium and the In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala .
Two conferences. One mission.
Zweig Group is ready to see you in-person again! The 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado on November 3-5, 2021. With much optimism and excitement, Zweig Group is thrilled to restore the full annual in-person conference this fall; presenting the highest level of curated thought leadership, numerous networking opportunities, and the iconic black-tie awards gala celebrating all our 2021 winners of the Hot Firm List, Best Firms to Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures, and the Jerry Allen Courage in Leadership Award! The 2021 In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala will be the industry’s top conference of 2021 with new networking and learning opportunities for leaders across the country. Trust us, you will not want to miss this! Register now to guarantee your spot.
The experience starts early virtually ! Zweig Group has continued to evolve its virtual conference, so the FREE 2021 Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium is back with a four- week virtual experience with over 40 speakers and 30 credit hours of networking, learning, and celebrating – all in an unlimited virtual environment. From emerging professionals, project managers, to CEO’s, there is something for everyone at the FREE 2021 Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium . SEPT. 13 - OCT. 8, 2021 REGISTER FOR FREE VIRTUAL NOW
NOV. 3 - 5, 2021 Denver, CO REGISTER FOR IN-PERSON NOW
QUESTIONS? For group discounts or any other inquiries, please contact events@ zweiggroup.com, call 800.466.6275 or visit zweiggroup.com
Everything we do is in pursuit of elevating the AEC industry, bringing awareness of the incredible impact that engineers, architects, environmental professionals, survey- ors, planners, landscape architects and related professional service providers have on the world. Empowering organizations with the resources they need to perform better, grow and add jobs, pay better wages and to expand their impact on the community, Zweig Group exists to advance the profession.
P R O F I L E
Humility: David Shove-Brown Partner at //3877, a boutique design firm that’s committed to providing innovative and creative designs that enhance and enrich the lives of its clients, partners, and communities.
By LIISA ANDREASSEN Correspondent
A s a partner at //3877 (Washington, D.C.), Shove- Brown has expertise in residential, restaurant, and healthcare design. His work has been featured in Details Magazine , The Washington Post , Boutique Design Magazine , and more. He’s also a guest faculty member at the Catholic University School of Architecture and Planning and has led classes at the Corcoran College of Art + Design and lectures for the National Building Museum, Washington Architectural Foundation, and the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “Great leadership is about humility,” Shove-Brown says. “No one is ever too important, we treat others as equals.” A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID SHOVE-BROWN. The Zweig Letter: What benefits does your firm offer that your people get most excited about? David Shove-Brown: We’ve just made the decision to switch to unlimited paid time off. Post-2020, we’ve
collectively moved into an age where flexibility is key to employee success and happiness. We need our staff to be motivated to work hard and get the job done, knowing that they are allowed time to recover and rest. We’re also starting to plan out how we’ll be incorporating a more hybrid model for work, allowing employees to balance work-from-home and work-from-office. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? DSB: There are a few people who have greatly influenced who I am, and where I’m going. ❚ ❚ Stanley Hallet, the former dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at Catholic University of America, is one of those people who truly brings out the best in the people around him. He is a character among characters. ❚ ❚ George Dove, one of David Tracz’s first bosses, was a major influence on me. I taught with George for eight or so years,
THE ZWEIG LETTER JUN
The combination of landscape and architecture is paramount. We want and need a connection to the outdoors, whether it comes from incorporating natural materials, or including a connection to outdoor areas within a design. One project example that comes to mind when speaking on this topic is an early //3877 project – MatchBox – where we incorporated many different, natural materials, but we didn’t hide that materiality; we let these materials and finishes shine within the space. TZL: How do you anticipate COVID-19 permanently impacting your firm’s policy on telecommuting? DSB: Just like the majority of business owners, we’re still mapping out the road ahead. It’ll likely be a hybrid approach – splitting employees’ time between remote work and in-office work. It’s undeniable that 2020 dramatically changed the way everyone works, on a global level. On both an individual level and a professional level, we’ve all experienced a massive learning curve, where our limits have been put to the test. We have to find a silver lining in this collective experience. If remote work is more productive, efficient, and beneficial for the office culture, why not continue some element of that in the workplace “norm” of the future? TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? DSB: By being honest. We tell them from the moment we start the project process that we’re not superheroes. There will always be bumps in the road, but that we’ll solve them. It’s also important to talk about fees, cost, and money up front. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? DSB: Looking back over the past 10 years, the first thing I wish we knew before starting //3877 is just how challenging it is to not only find the right employee, but also how to measure if they will integrate within our established company culture. We want everyone to fit into the overall picture of //3877. You may find the right person for the job on paper, but it’s difficult to know how they’ll acclimate. I also didn’t realize how much time was going to be spent working on interpersonal dynamics (and taking people for coffee breaks to work through these). See HUMILITY, page 8
and using him as a sounding board was very important during the big moments of my architecture career. ❚ ❚ My parents. I will never forget the moment in high school, when I barely made it through biology when my mom and I were sitting with my guidance counselor. Unlike a lot of parents, she didn’t force me to fall into the “marching line” of doing things a certain way because they’d always been done that way. Instead of forcing me to do biology – a subject that I didn’t enjoy and wasn’t good at – she encouraged me to take up art. This type of guidance helped me on my path of becoming who I was meant to be. It’s important for parents to embrace the weirdness. ❚ ❚ My daughter. I’m going to leave this world a better place than when I came here because of her – she’s the driving force behind that. “That old-school business mentality of the ‘big boss’ who leads their team through an emotionally-disconnected management style is so outdated. Leadership is about creating and maintaining a two-way street of open communication.” TZL: You have a quote in your bio that reads, “Good architecture is landscape in drag.” Love it. Can you give me an example of how this translates into a past or current project? DSB: For me, this quote has two meanings. As a part of my position at the Catholic University School of Architecture and Planning, I’ve traveled and held lectures in Italy, including at the magical Casa Malaparte in Capri. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of this piece of incredible architecture, I arranged a week-long workshop led by one of my heroes, Antoine Predock. Antoine gave numerous lectures, led design session and unique sketching exercises. He called me on his last day in Italy and said, “I’m calling you from my cell phone so that we can continue to stay in touch.” I couldn’t believe my hero was actually calling me. It was a realization that great leadership is about humility; no one is ever too important, we treat others as equals. To this day, Antoine is still a mentor, friend, and hero of mine – that connection is so important to me.
HEADQUARTERS: Washington, D.C. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 20 YEAR FOUNDED: 2011 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 1 ORIGIN STORY: In the fall of 2010, close friends David Tracz and David Shove-Brown began the process of realizing their decade-old dream of forming a professional architecture and design partnership. Through over two decades of experience, the duo developed goals of not only working with clients interested in the design process but also teaming with partners who can help provide the highest levels of design, construction and presentation. After months of planning and development, Washington, D.C.-based //3877 was born. //3877 is a multi-disciplinary architecture and design firm specializing in restaurant, hospitality, single- family, multi-unit residential, and commercial projects. The award- winning firm has been featured on the Washington Business Journal ’s ‘Best Places to Work’ list for three consecutive years, and in 2020, became the first Washington D.C. design firm to become B Corp Certified. In 2021, it became a NEWH TopID firm. //3877 understands that without people, the spaces they design would not exist; their team remains invested in the communities that they help to create long after the construction process has ended.
© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.
NE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
BUSINESS NEWS NASA AWARDS X-59 QUIET SUPERSONIC FLIGHT COMMUNITY TESTING CONTRACT TO HMMH HMMH announced that it has been awarded a contract to support NASA’s X-59 Community Response Testing. “As the X-59 Program continues to mature and NASA turns more attention towards assessing potential effects from noise emissions from the supersonic aircraft, HMMH is eager to support the agency, building upon our extensive prior work in this field,” said Kurt M. Hellauer, Director of Federal Programs and Program Manager for this contract. “We thank NASA for their confidence in our team and the opportunity to support the agency’s vital work
in advancing the science behind supersonic flight and paving the way for new entrants to the National Airspace System.” “We are very excited for the opportunity to bring a world-class team to this challenging project” said Mary Ellen Eagan, HMMH President and CEO. HMMH will be working with the following subcontractors on the project: Blue Ridge Research and Consulting, LLC; Westat Inc.; EMS Brüel & Kjær Inc. dba Envirosuite; Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Hampton University; Spire Global Inc.; Senzig Engineering; and Crown Consulting Inc.
HMMH is an international leader in environmental and transportation planning including noise and vibration control, air quality analysis, airport and airspace planning, and sustainable energy solutions. HMMH solves complex problems affecting our environment. With five offices throughout the country, we serve government and private industry clients with a broad range of innovative and effective solutions. The firm’s core values are to serve clients with excellence and honesty, to respect others, foster teamwork, and seek growth opportunities. HMMH prides itself on exceeding client expectations and making clients for life.
HUMILITY , from page 7
sunshine and rainbows, our staff was appreciative to have the insight, and to be trusted with the information. It’s fundamentally important that employees understand that their work has financial value, and that they each play a role in creating profit. In 2020, through all the adversity and struggle, it was important to share that their sacrifices – working unusual hours, struggling with a new work setup, or having to juggle parenting and working – meant that our business survived. TZL: In the client testimonials on your website, clients repeatedly call out how much they enjoyed working with your team. The sense of community that your company offers shines through. How do you maintain that company culture that shows a unified front? DSB: From team-building events to happy hours to visiting staff during the 2020 holidays (albeit via proper social distancing), we do so much to stay connected. The most important part of a company is its people, and a great company culture is the base of our operations. We preach our company values and culture ahead of the hiring process. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? DSB: From the very beginning, Tracz and I realized that understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses was paramount. We quickly realized what the other one was better at, and that playing to each other’s strengths was going to be key to our success. In the same vein, I learned that it’s important to be cognizant and open-minded to criticism, and being able to identify when you’re wrong. Similarly, surrounding yourself with people who don’t necessarily agree with you is important for remaining exposed to new perspectives and ideas. You can’t do it all, and you don’t have to do it all. Hire someone who is really good at those things that you’re not so good at, and focus on what you are good at. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility? DSB: Supporting my team through obtaining work, completing work, teaching, and learning.
There are always going to be stumbling blocks. You have to mediate, facilitate, and dictate. Once you find the right people, which we have been blessed to do, my business partner and I have learned that maintaining the wellbeing of our team is paramount. Accomplishing this comes about in different ways – whether that be how you convey information, or how you give everyone a voice. For us, it’s been evolutionary – trying to understand how much information and what information to give, and being able to give our employees tasks that are challenging and that play to their strengths. Our job as co-founders and principals is to support our team and to provide all the tools and information needed for them to create great work. “We’ve just made the decision to switch to unlimited paid time off. Post-2020, we’ve collectively moved into an age where flexibility is key to employee success and happiness. We need our staff to be motivated to work hard and get the job done, knowing that they are allowed time to recover and rest.” TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? DSB: For my business partner, David Tracz, and I, it’s always been a priority to be transparent. That old-school business mentality of the “big boss” who leads their team through an emotionally-disconnected management style is so outdated. Leadership is about creating and maintaining a two-way street of open communication. It’s about being truthful via vulnerability. I believe that compassionate communication is about transparency. That includes being accountable for answering questions about business strategy and survival. Last year, being transparent included sharing the nitty gritty numbers such as earnings and losses with our staff. It was no surprise that our 2020 numbers saw a dip (like the majority of the industry). Even though it wasn’t all
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THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
O P I N I O N
With the market hardening for AEC professional liability insurance, an accurate and complete application may help keep your firm’s premium as low as possible. Professional liability applications
A s AEC firms face a tightening market for professional liability insurance, they need to explore every opportunity to establish themselves as favorable risks to underwriters. A detailed and carefully completed insurance application may help keep your firm’s premium as low as possible – even in the current rate environment.
The following areas in typical professional liability insurance applications relate to an AEC firm’s billings and may represent opportunities for premium discounts: ❚ ❚ Feasibility studies. Historically, most insurers discount billings for feasibility studies, master plans, reports, and opinions by as much as 60 percent to 75 percent. Even if the feasibility study ultimately becomes a full-blown project, you may still be able to list some billings in this category. For instance, if your study explores four alternatives and one is chosen, the cost of analyzing the other three options should be categorized as billings for feasibility studies. ❚ ❚ Abandoned projects. Most insurers either discount or exclude billings for projects abandoned prior to the construction-documents phase. These projects may be on hold, pending financing or other considerations, or truly abandoned. Consequently,
there is nothing likely to give rise to a claim. This category is exceptionally relevant given the large number of projects dropped entirely or on indefinite “hold” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Take time to review and identify these projects and related revenues. ❚ ❚ Project-specific policies. Many insurers significantly discount billings for a project covered by a project-specific professional liability insurance policy. Unfortunately, this category is diminishing as fewer projects are being insured under project- specific polices given a lack of underwriter interest in providing this coverage. ❚ ❚ Construction management. Discounts of 35 percent or more may apply to agency (not at-risk) construction and facilities management. However, consult your broker about the CM-related revenues
See ROB HUGHES, page 10
THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
ON THE MOVE WESTWOOD WELCOMES 10 NEW SHAREHOLDERS Westwood Professional Services, Inc., a national award-winning multi-discipline professional services firm in the AEC industry is pleased to announce 10 new shareholders. They were selected for their exceptional dedication and contributions to the firm. ❚ ❚ Chad Grismer – Director, Innovative Solutions, Minneapolis, MN ❚ ❚ Jeff Saucier – Director, Information Technology, Minneapolis, MN ❚ ❚ Jim Jannicke – Director, Private Development Colorado, Englewood, CO
❚ ❚ Josh Johnson – Senior Project Manager, Las Vegas, NV ❚ ❚ Karl Knapp – Director, Land Division Colorado, Englewood, CO ❚ ❚ Kris Wroolie – Regional Survey Office Leader, Brainerd, MN ❚ ❚ Melinda Lundquist – Director, Private Development Colorado, Englewood, CO ❚ ❚ Sam Jorgensen – Director, Geotechnical & Structural Engineering, Madison, WI ❚ ❚ Sarah Kolz – Director, Private Development Colorado, Englewood, CO
❚ ❚ Steve Battaglia – Senior Project Manager, Minneapolis, MN Westwood is a leading multi-disciplined AEC industry professional services provider for national wind energy, solar energy, electric transmission, private development, and public infrastructure projects. Westwood was established in 1972 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through a focus on its people, culture, and clients, Westwood has quickly expanded to serve clients across the nation from multiple U.S. offices.
ROB HUGHES , from page 9
architecture generate lower premiums. The same pertains to types of projects. Ask your insurance advisor about your insurer’s views on what are considered low versus high risk services and project types. In addition, keep in mind that underwriters’ views on risk change with experiences – water/ waste-water projects are now viewed more cautiously than in the past as are services performed in the power sector. Discuss your service and project types with your broker and be aware of how they are perceived by your current carrier. Most applications have categories that may overlap – civil engineering, transportation, highway/roadway – as examples. Avoid assigning percentages without understanding the potential impact on the renewal pricing. Lastly, there is typically a catch-all category of “Other.” If you choose it, provide as much detail as possible; anything listed here will likely be assumed as higher risk unless you explain why it shouldn’t be so perceived. ❚ ❚ Claims. Claim records are paramount for PLI renewals. Be sure you and your broker are proactive in understanding your claim history – especially the past five years and even 10-year history. If you have claims – even if they haven’t resulted in carrier paid losses – provide carriers competing for your business with an informative narrative of each matter and lessons learned, such as how your firm tightened its QA/ QC practices or discontinued a service, client, or project segment. For example, one AEC firm that just settled a multi-million dollar claim obtained favorable renewal terms because they adopted and shared with the underwriter their newly implemented contract review process, a go/no-go Risk Management Committee (which under the firm’s new guidelines would have rejected the owner and project) and pulled back from the market segment where the large claim occurred. ❚ ❚ Risk and educational training. Many carriers offer a 5 percent to 10 percent discount if your firm participates in annual, qualified training sessions. Most are now offered online. Take the classes and be sure the proposed renewal terms reflect that you’ve earned the related discount. By preparing an accurate and informed application, you’ll help gain the confidence of underwriters and might avoid overlooking potential discounts. PLI applications are fairly thorough. However, if any information not requested in the application may enhance an underwriter’s understanding of your firm, provide it in an addendum to the application. ROB HUGHES, senior vice president and partner, Ames & Gough. He can be reached at email@example.com.
before finalizing your application as some underwriters consider this higher-risk. What might help you with the majority of carriers could result in higher premiums or less competitive alternative quotes from others. ❚ ❚ Reimbursables. Directly reimbursable expenses, such as the cost of making copies of documents, traveling to a construction site, or other incidental costs, typically do not pose any professional liability claims exposure. If your billing system tracks these separately, then list them separately in the revenue-related section of your renewal application. If your billing practices are less detailed, you can still make a good faith estimate of these amounts; a typical range is 3 percent to 5 percent of gross revenue. ❚ ❚ Insured subconsultants. Some underwriters discount revenues passed through to insured subconsultants. If this information isn’t requested on your application, break these out and list them separately by attachment. Even if your incumbent carrier doesn’t discount these amounts, your broker can use them with other carriers; perhaps securing a lower alternative quote in the process. “By preparing an accurate and informed application, you’ll help gain the confidence of underwriters and might avoid overlooking potential discounts.” Here are some additional considerations for AEC firms completing PLI applications: ❚ ❚ Licensed professionals. A key question on nearly all PLI applications is the number of licensed professionals your firm employs – architects, engineers, land surveyors, landscape architects, and all others. Typically, this must be broken down by number of principals, partners, officers, or directors and number of staff. Why is this important? A recurring source of claims is inadequate staff with project managers and other professionals spread too thin to keep pace or provide effective client communications and QA/QC efforts. Highlight your professional to revenue ratio to show you are managing risk by not over-working your professionals. ❚ ❚ Types of service. Most applications have several choices for areas of professional services and want them allocated categorically by percentage. Some higher-risk categories, such as structural or geotechnical engineering, generate higher premiums; others, such as interior design or landscape
© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.
THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
F R O M T H E F O U N D E R
I t’s long been known that to really be successful as an AEC firm, you have to get extra effort out of your people. If you can get everyone in the firm to work just a little bit harder, your firm can be very profitable. If you can’t get that extra effort, consistently, you will probably be – at best – only marginally profitable. Getting everyone to work a little harder is one of the easiest ways to expand your capacity to produce work. Get 110 percent effort out of your people
So how do you get that extra effort? If you think this is important, as I do, here are some things you must consider: 1)Do you personally put in an extra effort or at least a very high effort? This is one of the reasons I felt I had to retire from daily duty at Zweig Group nearly three years ago. At that time, as an almost full-time professor and as an owner of my own design/build/development firm at the same time, as well as a father of two younger children, there was no way I could set the example that needed to be set in terms of hours dedicated to Zweig Group. Those people don’t want to see their “leader,” or at least one of their leaders, coming and going all day, or not showing up at all on some days. It doesn’t set the example anyone in a leadership position would want in order to get the most out of their people. Too many firm principals and owners who are in a similar position cannot be honest with themselves
and admit their own work hours are critical to setting the right example for everyone else in the firm. 2)Do you really reward the people who give it their all? If I ask this question of most principals of firms in this business, the majority will immediately assure me that they do. But then when you really get into their numbers and how they reward people, it quickly becomes apparent that high effort is pretty far down the list in terms of who gets promoted and who gets to be an owner in the firm. Instead, what is more important is degrees, registrations, and selling ability. I’m not saying those things are not super important, but the high-productivity, non- complaining grinders cannot be forgotten. Anyone who puts in extra effort has to be recognized. And “recognized” is not a 2 percent to 3 percent annual
See MARK ZWEIG, page 12
THE ZWEIG LETTER JUNE 21, 2021, ISSUE 1397
ON THE MOVE ADEC INNOVATIONS APPOINTS NEW EXECUTIVE TO LEAD COMPANY IN THEIR NEXT PHASE OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT ADEC Innovations , recognized as a global leader in designing, developing and delivering innovative solutions and assurance services in critical areas of sustainable development, today announced that Sondra Scott joined the company as chief executive officer for ADEC Innovations U.S. and Europe. With more than 25 years of global executive management experience in the fields of analytics and information management services, Scott will continue to develop and drive the growth strategy across the portfolio of ADEC Innovations’ U.S. and European brands and businesses. “Sondra is an enterprising, decisive professional with a record of dynamic leadership and expertise that spans across professional services, software and data-as- a-service businesses,” said James Donovan, Global CEO of ADEC Innovations. “The appointment of Scott marks a milestone in ADEC Innovations history as we bring for the first time dedicated executive leadership to these regions; we are confident that Sondra will successfully lead our U.S. and European businesses through our next phase of growth and development.” With offices throughout North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia, ADEC Innovations has a broad portfolio of businesses in the U.S. and Europe and offers solutions that
span Environmental, Social and Governance; Knowledge Management; Business and Knowledge Process Outsourcing; and Data and Software as a Service Applications. “Throughout my career I have sought a leadership role at the nexus of purpose, mission, and growth – which I have finally found at ADEC Innovations,” said Scott, ADEC Innovations CEO, U.S. and Europe. “As a company at the center of a global ‘sustainatech’ movement, ADEC Innovations is uniquely positioned to provide the foundational services companies, governments and coalitions need to apply data insight and software technology in evolving their sustainability journey. I am thrilled to join ADEC Innovations and to be a part of this passionate, driven, and inclusive team working to advance sustainable business practices around the world.” Prior to joining ADEC Innovations, Scott held leadership roles at Verisk Analytics, a global analytics company with proprietary data and products in the insurance, financial and energy verticals. Specifically, she joins us from Verisk Financial, one of the three main divisions of Verisk Analytics, where she was chief operating officer. As COO, Scott led the company through a strategic rethink and organizational overhaul that resulted in the consolidation of all operations and productions functions of five subsidiary companies into one central organization. Prior to her COO position, she was president of Verisk Maplecroft, a wholly owned subsidiary of Verisk Analytics,
specializing in risk quantification, particularly in politics, economics, environment and human rights indices. As president, Scott transformed the company into a cutting-edge public data analytics company driven by domain expertise. Sondra is also on the board of Gran Tierra Energy and is the chairman and co-founder of the U.K. non-profit Girl Stats, an organization that develops tools, data analytics and insights to highlight the risks faced by women in global supply chains. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and earth sciences from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering and economics from University of Pennsylvania & Institut Francais du Petrole. ADEC Innovations designs, develops and delivers innovative solutions and services in ESG, knowledge management, healthcare, and sustainable development. Since 1996, ADEC Innovations has provided insights, optimized operational efficiencies and empowered leaders to make positive-impact business decisions. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with a network of thousands of employees across 16 countries and six continents, ADEC Innovations works with governments, coalitions and businesses to help organizations meet their evolving needs and drive performance.
MARK ZWEIG, from page 11
university with a mission to provide an education to all, so I am bound to have admiration for those who show the most motivation and effort. 4)Are you making sure that you and your other managers are not doing anything to demotivate your staff? You cannot tolerate any managers who make other people feel small or make others feel they don’t want to work there because of their tendencies to be a glory hound. It will kill the motivation of the rest of your people. I have found too many of these principals and managers in firms who are in their roles not because they are good managers, but rather because they are outstanding individual performers. So because they can sell or do something really well, their inability to treat other people properly is overlooked. That is unacceptable, and you can’t tolerate it. The high performer who alienates and demotivates other people is one of the most difficult problems you will encounter as a top manager. I’m sure I could keep going here with additional points, but these four will hopefully get you thinking about your firm and whether or not it is likely that the way you are doing things there will lead to high efforts from your people. It is one of the easiest ways to expand your capacity to produce work – just get everyone to work a little harder! And that will make you more profitable as a company. MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
raise and a $1,300 annual bonus if other people are getting 10 percent raises and $200,000 annual bonuses. Rewards have got to be fairly distributed. “Culture” is based on what behaviors you reward and what behaviors you punish, not just what you say. Don’t forget that. “It’s long been known that to really be successful as an AEC firm, you have to get extra effort out of your people. If you can get everyone in the firm to work just a little bit harder, your firm can be very profitable.” 3)Are you hiring the right people in the first place – people who are likely to be hard workers? I realize that there are smart, hard-working people from all walks of life. Not everyone is “ruined” by growing up with too much affluence. Some of the hardest workers I know are people who grew up in very successful families. That said, my personal predisposition when it comes to hiring is to look for people who had to work while in school and overcome obstacles to get where they are. I believe that barring any other information, just knowing these things about someone will give them a greater likelihood of being less entitled and being a hard worker in the job. It’s no secret I am a big fan of co-op and internship programs, and am also a professor at a state
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