TZL 1374 (web)



Creating success: David E. Ott CEO and president of SEH (St. Paul, MN), a firm that’s simplifying the world’s complex challenges by designing better places, engineering clean water, and renewing infrastructure.


D ave Ott joined SEH as CEO and president in May 2019. He’s had a long career in the engineering industry spanning more than 30 years of leading people and delivering complex projects, nationally and internationally. “At SEH, people come first,” Ott says. “When you meet an SEH employee, you’re meeting an owner of our company. Our welcoming culture is built around being an employee- owned firm – all of our employees are shareholders, and this builds a deep culture of pride and support.” A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID OTT. The Zweig Letter: Your online bio quotes you: “Leadership is motivating people to contribute their best ideas and efforts to achieve a shared vision.” Can you give me an example or two of how you’ve recently carried this out?

David Ott: When you believe in your employees and you trust them to do what’s best, the organization moves ahead quickly. We strive to put responsibility on our employees, and provide them with the tools to grow. One example of this is that in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19 earlier this year, we formed a cross- company Tiger Team to look at our sales pipeline and sales structure in a new way. We pulled together staff from different regions and practices, got them together, told them to challenge our current assumptions, and then got out of their way. This group has been looking at our clients and our processes in a new light, coming up with new and different strategies to effectively win work in this new virtual environment and turbulent economy. As a result, we closed our fiscal year with record new contracts, despite impacts from COVID-19. TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely?


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