TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? DJ: Fortunately, through investments in technology and an already-established flexible work environment, we seamlessly made the transition for the large majority of the company to work from home. One of the specific steps we’ve taken to support employees is to provide a level of flexibility by establishing new time codes for when normal working hours may be affected by the coronavirus. For example, if employees need to take time to help their loved ones or care for children who are home from school, they can use the new codes on their timesheets instead of taking vacation hours. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” DJ: Prior to the COVID crisis, the lion’s share of my focus had been on the business, to develop and implement our accelerated growth strategy and to engage in research and dialogue/knowledge gain around market dynamics and trends. That said, I also spent a significant amount of time working on leadership development and growth as well as client engagement. The pandemic shifted some of my emphasis to working more in the business on crisis management and business continuity priorities. Fortunately, the organization is prepared to weather the storm from a position of strength, but it still means my focus must shift to ensure we are appropriately adapting to the new landscape. TZL: What role does your family play in your career? Are work and family separate, or is there overlap? DJ: On the whole, I’m a big believer in balancing work and life, and my family is a major contributor to that balance. My oldest son graduated from college with a degree in civil and environmental engineering and is now working in Los Angeles as a transportation planning engineer for major mass transit projects. I’d like to think my career had some positive influence on that. TZL: What type of leader do you consider yourself to be? DJ: I have described my leadership style as visionary, influencing, trusting, and outcome-based. I’ve been told by my team members that I am consistently a
transparent and dependable leader who can be counted on to tell it like it is (even if the feedback hurts) and to take the right road forward (even if it’s the difficult one). I’m a growth guy. I like to invest my time and energy in growing people and growing organizations. My proudest accomplishment as a leader at Ulteig has been to see the entire organization rise to a level of growth that was beyond expectations. TZL: What, if anything, are you doing to protect your firm from a potential economic slowdown in the future? DJ: Ulteig takes a very disciplined approach to creating and following our strategic plan. Having said that, we also do routine contingency planning, which of course these days has taken on more urgency. During the pandemic, we’ve taken a three- pronged focus: ❚ ❚ Employees: Because we made an investment several years ago in an IT architecture, the move to 100 percent at-home workforce went smoothly, and service to our clients has continued seamlessly.
HEADQUARTERS: Fargo, ND NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 600+ YEAR FOUNDED: 1944 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 12 SERVICES: 3D modeling, advanced energy lab, aviation planning and design, civil site development, construction management, energy planning, electrical studies, GIS, land surveying, NERC compliance, project management, solar, system integration and SCADA, transportation planning and design, water and wastewater, CAISO services, collection systems, distribution engineering and design, energy storage, environmental planning and services, grid modernization, municipal planning and engineering, operations and maintenance, right-of-way acquisition, substation design, transmission engineering and design, water resources and wind
❚ ❚ Clients: We have doubled-down on communication with our clients and
leveraged technology in creative new ways to help respond to challenges they are facing. ❚ ❚ Enterprise: The leadership team is leveraging our contingency plans to navigate through the developing economic conditions and ensure business continuity. “I’ve been told by my team members that I am consistently a transparent and dependable leader who can be counted on to tell it like it is (even if the feedback hurts) and to take the right road forward (even if it’s the difficult one).” TZL: Ulteig is consistently the recipient of top workplace awards in the various locations where it operates – what are some of the factors that influence this recognition? What makes the culture at Ulteig so compelling? DJ: The fact that we’ve made our culture an important element of our operations is a big reason for Ulteig’s outstanding retention rate, which was more than 90
See DEPENDABLE, page 8
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GUST 3, 2020, ISSUE 1355
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