TZL: How are you balancing investment in the next generation – which is at an all-time high – with rewards for tenured staff? This has always been a challenge but seems heightened as investments in development have increased. JP: We’re committed to developing all levels of staff through training, expanded responsibilities, and mentorship. For succession planning, we’ve bolstered our investments in our junior staff and the next tier of leadership. We have an Associate Partner program, which takes on the responsibility of the “voice of the employee,” where rising leaders participate on the strategic planning, 401(k), and other business committees. Our 100 percent ESOP culture embodies investing in our employees, with ownership rewards for all. “Our success is centered around strong financials, smart growth, and cultivating remarkable people. We offer long-term stability and a flexible work-life fit in a culture of inclusion where all employees are appreciated and respected.” TZL: How has COVID-19 impacted your firm’s policy on telecommuting/working remotely? JP: Coincidently, we recently adopted a telecommuting policy and our intent was to gradually expand participation as we gained experience and refined it. Little did we know that within two months, all of our staff would be putting telecommuting to the test. When the crisis hit, we expanded the policy, outfitted staff to work from home, and bolstered our remote capabilities. I’m proud of our staff and their focused efforts to adjust quickly to this new environment. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” JP: As the dynamics of the management team changes, so does my focus. With a full complement of executive managers, I am able to spend more time on the business. Over the last two years, the needle has pointed more toward “in the business” as we integrated new senior
leaders and I put on my mentor hat. It was swinging back to “on the business” until COVID-19 hit, but this is gradually fading. TZL: RJN Group’s tagline is “Engineering Infrastructure for Tomorrow.” How do you ensure that you’re keeping up with, and ahead of, what the future holds for water management? JP: Water quality is and will remain a driving force for utility providers and our economy. Since the late 1970s, RJN has been regarded as a pioneer in the water environment. Our engineers developed one of the first work-order systems, along with hydraulic analysis and asset coding methodologies, which are the foundation of current industry standards. Our professional staff stay ahead and often lead the charge as leaders in various industry organizations, serving as presidents, committee members, and experts on research forums. We remain curious of new and evolving engineering approaches, construction methods, and technologies to advance our practice for the benefit of our clients and the environment. TZL: Trust is crucial. How do you earn the trust of your clients? JP: Deliver – be early, accurate, and thorough. Be the consultant you’re hired to be – listen, respond, and honor your agreements. TZL: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are potential disruptors across all industries. Is your firm exploring how to incorporate these technologies into providing improved services for clients? JP: Our clients are deluged with all kinds of data. What they really want is statistical and analytical data to act on – and they want it now. In our wastewater flow monitoring business alone, we deliver more than 14 million data points per day. We’re now diving deep into “smart” systems and integrating our software with cutting-edge technologies from around the globe to enhance our client deliverables. ClarityTM is an online tool we built for utility owners that delivers live hydraulic and condition assessment data. It provides event notification, statistical, and analytical outputs so clients can immediately make informed decisions. See CLEAR VISION, page 8
HEADQUARTERS: Wheaton, IL NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 190 YEAR FOUNDED: 1975 NUMBER OF OFFICE LOCATIONS: 24 SERVICES: ❚ ❚ Engineering design ❚ ❚ Condition assessment ❚ ❚ Asset management ❚ ❚ Modeling ❚ ❚ Alternative delivery for wastewater, stormwater and water systems VISION: Engineering infrastructure for tomorrow. VALUES: RJN embodies an ownership culture, passionate about the environment, committed to community, and devoted to the welfare of its employees. BUILDING COMMUNITY: Founded in 1995, the RJN Foundation provides resources and financial assistance to more than 30 not- for-profit programs that focus on areas of human welfare. In addition, it has also established scholarship programs at seven colleges, nationally.
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UST 17, 2020, ISSUE 1357
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