CREATING SUCCESS, from page 7
DO: We create an environment where our employees feel welcomed, believe they are valued, have the support they need, have opportunity, and know they make a difference in helping SEH achieve its goals. We recognize our employee owners have choices. We work to ensure that SEH is the “employer of choice” whether it is to join our company or stay with our company. As an employee-owned company, our owners (the shareholders) have a greater sense of connectedness to each other to achieve SEH’s goals as 100 percent of our profits are distributed back to our employee-owners. We also know it’s incumbent on us as leaders to create an environment where our employees have the flexibility to balance the responsibilities of home with those at work. While our retention rate is above industry standard during a tight labor market, creating an environment where our employee owners can be their best remains a top priority. TZL: Are you seeking any financial assistance during the pandemic? DO: No. SEH has a strong cash balance and a solid backlog. TZL: You’ve dedicated your career to improving infrastructure. When did you first realize you wanted to do this and why? DO: In my childhood, I realized that I had a knack for mathematics and a desire to build things. In high school, as I explored potential careers, I realized that engineering the built environment allowed me to apply these skills and preferences, and done right could improve society’s well- being. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering to further my positioning for this. After serving a rewarding tour as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy, I realized I wanted to be more directly contributing to the improvement of our civic infrastructure, and resigned my commission to join a small firm focused on cleaning up hazardous waste sites. Since then, I have continuously looked for positions to directly impact our built and natural environment in a positive way. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? DO: Inclusion is one of our core values – all of our employee-owners should feel welcome. While we have made some progress in this area, there is still room for improvement. Important to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment is to first embrace our responsibility to be an active part of the solution. And, second to recognize that acts are more important that words – we need to take action, not just discuss the issue. Three years ago, we launched a Women in STEM Employee Resource Group, which continues to grow in its outreach and attendance, and a new ERG focused on inclusion and diversity launched late in 2020. Our in-house supervisor learning and development series helps our managers recognize and challenge their own biases. And, our recruitment efforts deliberately reach out to under- represented communities to increase our candidate pool. As our company grows, we seek talent to help us reflect the communities in which we live and work.
infrastructure needs. We have a shared vision to make a difference in areas such as clean water, safe and improved transportation systems, infrastructure that stands the test of time, and buildings that enhance the civic environment. Contributing to the honor of being named a best place to work includes the opportunity to grow one’s career. With established career tracks and a guide to gain the competencies to advance, our employees have access to multiple professional development opportunities to gain skills and experiences. To foster this environment where employee owners work together to achieve our vision and advance their careers, we focus on strengthening the employee and supervisor relationship. Through our leadership development series, we provide our supervisors with the resources and training to help create an inclusive and supportive workplace where our employees can do their best. “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.” TZL: Research shows that PMs are overworked, understaffed, and that many firms do not have formal training programs for PMs. What is your firm doing to support its PMs? DO: SEH prides itself on developing our project managers as they’re vital to successful project delivery, creating effective project teams, communicating with stakeholders, and gaining and keeping the trust of our clients. This requires a multipronged approach of formal and informal training and development, including in-house training and external programs. Prior to assignment, our project managers complete a certification program; we then continue supporting our PMs with annual professional development opportunities. We are continually looking for ways to streamline the tasks that PMs must perform. For instance, we’ve deployed new software to ease the tasks of multi-office plan set reviews, and for collecting, tracking, and responding to comments and RFIs. We’ve developed online financial reporting to provide the PMs timely and accurate data on hours and dollars spent on their projects, and tools to help them forecast future expenditures. Since the pandemic started, we’ve held training brown-bag sessions to help them manage stakeholder engagement in a virtual environment, including tips and hints for hosting video conference calls both small and large. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO? DO: Creating success and security for SHE employee owners, now and in the future. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around?
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THE ZWEIG LETTER JANUARY 11, 2021, ISSUE 1374
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