TZL 1394 (web)

T R E N D L I N E S M a y 3 1 , 2 0 2 1 , I s s u e 1 3 9 4 W W W . T H E Z W E I G L E T T E R . C O M

Debt-to-equity ratio

The pandemic has changed the way we network, opening doors to many more opportunities than we could have imagined. Making connections post-COVID

Debt-to-equity ratio was calculated and analyzed for firm participants in the 2021 Financial Performance Report of AEC Firms . This statistic is calculated by dividing total liabilities by total owners’ equity. Generally speaking, the lower this ratio is, the better the firm’s ability to borrow. The median value hit an all-time low in the 2020 fiscal year at 0.69. The data indicates that the two biggest factors in this low ratio were a decrease in current liabilities and increase in retained earnings among AEC firms relative to past years. 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 Dewberry.............................................. 10 Fleis & VandenBrink . ............................... 4 Parkhill .................................................... 6 Perkins Eastman .....................................8 Pfeiffer Partners Architects ......................8 SWCA Environmental Consultants . ......... 2 Sycamore Environmental Consultants ..... 2 Timmons Group ...................................... 2 Ware Malcomb ........................................ 4 WSB ..................................................... 10 MO R E A R T I C L E S xz JON PARRISH : Encourage ownership among young people Page 3 xz Building community: Jay Edwards Page 6 xz SHIBANI BISSON : She belongs here Page 9 xz MARK ZWEIG : You can win the talent war Page 11

I t took years for us to perfect the navigation of a professional organization’s monthly business luncheon. First, there’s the dress code. Suit or dress, close-toed shoes, refined hair, and company logo on a clothing item. Business cards – check. Readiness to network with AEC industry colleagues – major check. Then, there’s the commute to the high-end hotel banquet room. Check in, find your nametag, locate the nearest restroom and ensure your presentation. Jockey for the best seat in the ballroom. Introduce yourself while slyly calculating which water glass or coffee cup is yours. Is it OK to eat the dessert first? It’s just … sitting there. Clap softly as the emcee introduces themselves. Listen, eat, network, repeat. But now, networking has experienced a 180. How do you attend a lunchtime Zoom event with your camera on? Can you wear sweatpants? Do you BYOL (bring your own lunch) and eat during breakout room networking? Creating connections with industry colleagues seemed so much less intimidating when you were sharing a meal with the person beside you. Now, not only do we not get to jockey for who we sit next to, but we have to eat (or not eat) in front of everyone. Because, let’s be real, Zoom etiquette has revealed that attending one of these luncheons with your camera off isn’t acceptable. So, what now? Our trials and tribulations have led us to a striking conclusion: Virtual networking has opened doors to many more opportunities than we could have imagined: ❚ ❚ Guest speakers are top tier, the kind of folks who may not have been able to fly across the country to attend an event in person before the pandemic. ❚ ❚ Networking is no longer about seeing how many business cards you can collect; it’s become more about genuine human interactions on a level playing field (aka “the internet”). ❚ ❚ Link-sharing has become a purposeful way of communication and online networking groups are much more prevalent. ❚ ❚ And, hey, you can totally wear what you want from the waist down. Slippers? Sure. Virtual communication means capitalizing on effective use of technology, so, if your host has provided you with the means and if you have a tech savvy mindset, you’re all good. There are a few things we’ve noticed will get you further in the long run: ❚ ❚ Be alert. Zoom fatigue is indeed a real thing, but there are many ways

Lillian Minix




TRANSACT IONS SWCA ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS ACQUIRES SYCAMORE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS, INC. SWCA Environmental Consultants announced that it has acquired Sycamore Environmental Consultants , an environmental consulting services, compliance, and permitting firm based in Sacramento, California. Sycamore provides environmental permitting support to public and private sectors and specializes in public infrastructure, transportation such as bridge and highway projects, linear features projects such as transmission lines and pipelines, renewable energy, telecommunications, and general and specific plan projects. The firm consists of a team of biologists and planners with diverse expertise including botany, wildlife biology, wetland delineation, restoration, arboriculture, planning, permitting, GPS data capture, CAD mapping, and GIS analysis. This acquisition adds to SWCA’s presence in California, allowing the company to better serve clients throughout the West. It also deepens SWCA’s roster of technical and scientific experts, particularly CEQA/NEPA experts, planners, and biologists. “Sycamore has been a leader in northern California since 1991, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to SWCA,” said SWCA CEO Joseph J. Fluder, III. “Their experience with infrastructure and transportation projects, as well as renewable energy and linear projects

is well respected. We’re pleased to team up and bring our wide-ranging environmental expertise to more clients in this geographic market.” “We are excited to become part of the SWCA team,” said Sycamore Environmental Vice President Jeffery Little. “SWCA’s resources in California and nationally allows our clients to access a wider scope of services and provides our staff with new professional development opportunities.” SWCA is a nationwide environmental consulting firm providing a full spectrum of environmental services focusing on planning, natural and cultural resource management, permitting, regulatory compliance, water resources, and ecological restoration. Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, the company’s growing team of professionals combines scientific expertise with in-depth knowledge of permitting and compliance protocols to achieve technically sound, cost- effective solutions for environmental projects throughout the United States and its territories. Sycamore Environmental Consultants, founded in 1991, provides specialized environmental consulting services statewide. Based in Sacramento, the firmprovide biological, wetland, and other environmental consulting services to the public and private sectors through all stages of project development.

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LILLIAN MINIX, from page 1 to persevere through the afternoon sleepies. Prep yourself with a cup of coffee or glass of water and a light snack in case you didn’t eat before your call. ❚ ❚ Be prepared. It’s not only the Girl Scouts’ and Boy Scouts’ motto, it’s also a great reminder to check up on your technology before joining a call. Ensure your internet is active, your camera/mic are working, and that you’re in a well-lit, quiet area. Don’t be afraid to use a company provided Zoom background or to use one of the many filters that Zoom provides in case there are disturbances behind you. ❚ ❚ Be present. Pay attention, take notes, and research on a side window, if needed. No one said having two windows open at the same time was rude, but be sure you’re still networking in the moment. If you’re presenting, silence your alerts so others don’t get distracted by your co-worker’s last-minute email request. Zoom also has a “hidden self- view” feature which allows you to focus on others in the session rather than yourself. ❚ ❚ Be invested. Think about how to connect with people online when the networking event is over. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great ways to keep in touch with the connections you’ve made during a virtual session. You did, in fact, meet these people via the internet, why not make long-lasting connections there too? The world is ever-changing, and we can’t make the argument that networking wasn’t headed in this direction before the pandemic anyway – but the silver lining of our virtual world is definitely that our access to a technologically-driven AEC industry was catalyzed by need. What’s in the future of virtual networking? While we’re not totally sure, we can probably expect a heightened sense of purpose for our Zoom calls and eating lunch behind a computer screen. LILLIAN MINIX is marketing coordinator at Timmons Group. Contact her at lillian.minix@timmons. com. Concept by Heather McLaughlin.

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Getting everyone to think and act like an owner will result in more of your people making day-to-day decisions with the best interest of the company in mind. Encourage ownership among young people

G etting new and younger staff to take ownership of their work goes a long way toward building a successful company. Encouraging actual ownership among young professionals, however, is the best way to sustain it. Every company needs young professionals to become owners. The early buy-in provides long-term sustainability when the founders or top-level leaders decide to retire or move on.

Jon Parrish

Young professionals often join companies because one person or a group of people saw something they liked in them. When the opportunity arises, they are usually eager to invest back into the company that took a chance on them. It is an opportunity for them to say, “I’m all in!” The benefits of having younger employees with ownership stakes in the company are often linked to better company performance. When staff at multiple levels of a company are financially invested in its success, you create a culture where everyone is thinking, behaving, and making day-to-day decisions with the best interest and intentions of the company in mind. It also increases ownership representation and influence among multiple peer groups.

Getting employees at all levels to buy in to thinking and acting like an owner is invaluable because employee-owned firms have more stability, higher survival rates, less turnover, and fewer layoffs in recessions. Unfortunately, not every employee will be afforded the opportunity, or even have the willingness to become an owner. The ultimate “golden nugget” for ownership is purchasing company stock. Direct purchase of stock often includes restrictions based on years of employment and can be impeded by younger professionals lacking enough personal capital to afford the buy in. Employee stock ownership programs and profit-

See JON PARRISH, page 4



BUSINESS NEWS WARE MALCOMB ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF LAUNCHDARKLY HEADQUARTERS IN UPTOWN OAKLAND Ware Malcomb , an award- winning international design firm, announced construction is complete on LaunchDarkly’s headquarters in uptown Oakland, California. Ware Malcomb provided interior architecture and design and branding services for the project. LaunchDarkly, a software company that produces the leading feature management platform, is located in the popular uptown neighborhood of downtown Oakland at the Lake Merritt Plaza. The highly sought-after plaza offers spectacular views of Lake Merritt, as well as quick access to the Oakland airport and the BART station. The 30,000 square foot remodel offers office upgrades across two floors. The design highlights the value of community within LaunchDarkly, paralleling the culture of Oakland. Strategically placed open-concept areas throughout the office promote employee

engagement. The expansive break room features a full kitchen with modern appliances and decor, with light colored wood, delicate accents, clean lines and exposed ceilings. The people-centric design encourages employees to congregate and foster a community culture within the break space. Other design features accommodate further company growth and alternative ways of working. The office has many flexible spaces that allow for independent work, small huddles or large collaborative meetings. Ware Malcomb integrated LaunchDarkly’s brand colors of navy blues and grays with light wood and greenery throughout the space. The branding team also developed space-themed graphics to align with LaunchDarkly’s company image. “Our focus was to bring the LaunchDarkly brand to life while weaving in the authenticity of Oakland culture,” said Rhea Butler, Director, Interior Architecture & Design of Ware Malcomb’s San Francisco office. “It

was exciting to contribute to the growth of LaunchDarkly.” The general contractor for the project was WCI-General Contractors. Established in 1972, Ware Malcomb is a contemporary and expanding full service design firm providing professional architecture, planning, interior design, civil engineering, branding and building measurement services to corporate, commercial/residential developer and public/institutional clients throughout the world. With office locations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, the firm specializes in the design of commercial office, corporate, industrial, science & technology, healthcare, retail, auto, public/ institutional facilities and renovation projects. Ware Malcomb is recognized as an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private company and a Hot Firm by Zweig Group. The firm is also ranked among the top 15 architecture/engineering firms in Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms.

JON PARRISH, from page 3

Programs such as an ESOP ease the transfer of ownership by dispersing a percentage of ownership across all employees. By selling off shares to that next level down, the company provides themselves with a plan to efficiently buy out top-level leadership and continue long-term viability. “Getting employees at all levels to buy in to thinking and acting like an owner is invaluable because employee-owned firms have more stability, higher survival rates, less turnover, and fewer layoffs in recessions.” When employees buy into their own company, they are putting their eggs into a basket they can influence. At Fleis & VandenBrink, the mantra is that stock is never given, it must be bought. Gifts can be taken for granted, but by writing that check for the purchase of stock, you tend to place a different value on what it is worth. The greatest benefit you receive with encouraging ownership among young professionals will come when everyone on your team truly understands that when one succeeds, you all succeed. Getting everyone to think, act, and make decisions like an owner gets everyone moving in the same direction, toward the same common goals and for the greater good. It is never too soon to ask young professionals to take ownership and strategically help you get where you want to go. Your future success may depend on it. JON PARRISH is an associate and director of the Marketing Group at Fleis & VandenBrink. He can be reached at .

sharing plans allow the opportunity for all employees to benefit from the company’s financial success, often much more quickly than the direct purchase options. These programs also serve as attractive recruiting and retention tools and help build the ownership culture. Having skin in the game not only allows the young professional to invest in themselves, but it gives them a voice in making some of the company’s biggest decisions through the ability to vote as a shareholder. It also helps your company with recruiting and retaining younger staff when they feel confident enough to relay their unfiltered opinions and know that more than one generation of leaders is making all the decisions. The earlier a young professional invests increases the opportunity for a larger return. Dividends also provide more money to reinvest which makes it easier in the long run to buy additional shares and increase earnings. Getting entry-level employees to understand that the decisions they make each day effect the bottom line can be a challenge initially. But when they see others in the firm with ownership stakes behaving and making decisions that are best for the company, they are more likely to follow suit. Learning the culture of accountability from owners closer to their peer group is invaluable. Having young professionals become owners also helps immensely with transitioning out leaders at the top level. Many firms in our industry, especially first-generation firms, struggle with a top-heavy ownership structure. For a company to continue after the founders move on, they have to sell out to a larger conglomerate, bring in someone with deep pockets, or have a plan to spread out their ownership over time to the next level of leadership within the company.

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Leadership Skills for AEC Professionals – VIRTUAL SEMINAR DATE: June 8, 2021 PRICE: $699 PDH/LU: 6 Credit Hours LEARN MORE

OVERVIEW: Practical leadership skills are vital to the health and success of every company in any industry. Effective leaders motivate their teams to achieve excep- tional results, inspire others to be better than they thought possible, and create an environment where their team is focused and working towards a common vision. This program provides AEC professionals with the skills to become more competent lead- ers and helps attendees develop and affirm the leadership skills, strategies, and tech - niques necessary to grow personally and professionally.

Project Management for AEC Professionals – VIRTUAL SEMINAR DATE: July 6, 2021 PRICE: $699 PDH/LU: 6 Credit Hours LEARN MORE

OVERVIEW: Each team member brings their own unique experiences and skillset to project teams. Effectively leveraging the talents of your team can optimize team effec- tiveness. This course provides people-focused, science-driven practical skills to help project leaders harness the power of their team. By addressing the most important aspects of any project – the people – this course will provide practical techniques that can be immediately implemented for a positive impact on any AEC team or business. Elevating Doer-Sellers: Business Development for AEC Professionals – VIRTUAL SEMINAR DATE: July 7, 2021 PRICE: $699 PDH/LU: 6 Credit Hours LEARN MORE OVERVIEW: This program is specifically developed to help design and technical pro - fessionals in AEEC firms become more comfortable managing clients and promoting the firm and its services. Led by two CEOs with extensive experience from the design desk to the board room, this one-of-a-kind seminar presents business development techniques proven to drive real growth and value in your AEC firm focuses on what really works in today’s AEC firm utilizing practical and proven techniques that resonate across the organizational chart. .


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Building community: Jay Edwards CEO of Parkhill (Lubbock, TX), a multidisciplinary firm that is building community by creating inventive, relevant built environments together.


A fter serving as the firm’s COO since 2015, Edwards was named president/CEO of Parkhill in 2019. He takes pride in developing relationships and building community. “We focus on being an open and transparent business,” Edwards says. “It starts with the board, partners, and associates and trickles down to the rest of the staff. To have successful change management you have to have trust. You have to tell the ‘why’ behind change and communicate that change is happening for a reason. Change management has to be very deliberate and when people embrace it, energy comes from it.” A CONVERSATION WITH JAY EDWARDS. The Zweig Letter: You were COO for several years prior to becoming CEO. Did you find that position helped to prepare you for your current role as CEO? Please explain.

Jay Edwards: As COO, I worked alongside the CEO for nearly four years prior to moving into this role. It was a somewhat seamless and easy transition. We brought in an outside consultant to help as well. We’re now in a growth strategy mindset and have reorganized the corporate structure in the last year. The COO is more internally focused and I’m more management oriented. TZL: How do you anticipate COVID-19 permanently impacting your firm’s policy on telecommuting? JE: We already had a small percentage of remote workers – about 10 percent. We’d invested in technology so it was easy to transition to 100 percent remote working. We’ve recently conducted surveys to see what people want moving forward and we’ve learned that about 15 percent want to return to the office, full-time. Most people find that they’re more productive at home. While there’s some stuff they miss, they prefer more time at home. The future will likely be a hybrid model. We’ve been researching what future offices will look like too – more collaborative spaces.



If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? JE: Yes. We’ve used it for the past six years and it’s worked well. It makes us think about what we’re doing and has shaped our practice. We’re data driven and work to synthesize design into solution. “We see the future of the office taking on a role that serves to preserve and maintain the company’s culture as opposed to a place to work.” enlightening client experience that results in making visions reality.” Can you provide a recent, real-life example that illustrates this? JE: We had a project with a large water development plant for a community in Midland. The project was taken on during a big drought and there was a great sense of urgency. A project that cost several hundred million was completed in 14 months so the community would have a reliable water source. There were so many facets and moving parts and the way the community pulled together made it all possible. TZL: It is often said that people leave managers, not companies. What are you doing to ensure that your line leadership are great people managers? JE: This is very true and we try to hire good people who care. It’s important that people are genuine and leadership really understands that. We’ve had a Leadership TZL: Parkhill’s vision states, “Transforming community by facilitating an extraordinary, Academy for more than 13 years. It’s a year-long program and leaders look forward to attending. It comes with a certain amount of prestige. We work to ensure that they’re not just good leaders, but good people. In the beginning, leaders are paired with mentor(s) and there are eight distinct events. There’s also a two-day session that involves some type of training on a specific training topic. There’s a graduation ceremony at the end of the fiscal year. To date, about 200 people have graduated from the Academy. TZL: Is change management a topic regularly addressed by the leadership at your firm? If so, elaborate.

We see the future of the office taking on a role that serves to preserve and maintain the company’s culture as opposed to a place to work. It will be more of a cultural and social hub, so we don’t see a cultural erosion. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” JE: I’ve always worked on projects and enjoyed developing relationships. I still maintain a percentage of “in” – probably about 15 percent to 20 percent. I like staying plugged in. It keeps me grounded. I had a mentor who told me that I should approach the firm like it’s my project. That made a lot of sense to me. TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? JE: Trust plays into our overall mission statement: “Building community by creating inventive, relevant built environments together.” It’s nine words all together, but when you take it apart, it’s meant literally. It hits that sweet spot as we find the words balance to create trust. “We try to hire good people who care. It’s important that people are genuine and leadership really understands that ... We work to ensure that they’re not just good leaders, but good people.” TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? JE: This is a very applicable topic right now. We began focusing on this over the past summer. There’s a blog post on our website called “Standing Against Racism.” It includes a presentation and video we put together about our commitment to diversity and inclusion given to employees and small groups. We’re working to be more proactive about issues having to do with bigotry, racism, and prejudices. Biases are subtle and more difficult to identify. We’re bringing attention to that. It’s important for us to truly embrace building community and working for the common good. I’ve also joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Pledge. TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit?


❚ ❚ Amarillo, TX ❚ ❚ Arlington, TX ❚ ❚ Austin, TX ❚ ❚ El Paso, TX ❚ ❚ Frisco, TX ❚ ❚ Lubbock, TX ❚ ❚ Midland, TX

❚ ❚ Norman Cardinal, OK ❚ ❚ Norman Lemke, OK ❚ ❚ Oklahoma City, OK ❚ ❚ Tulsa, OK ❚ ❚ Woodward, OK

REBRANDING: “We’ve set the table and are now looking forward. We rebranded the firm to Parkhill to better define the firm as we grow.” VISION: Transforming community by facilitating an extraordinary, enlightening client experience that results in making visions reality.

COLLECTIVE VALUES: ❚ ❚ Real innovation ❚ ❚ Engaging collaboration ❚ ❚ Life balance ❚ ❚ Enduring relationships


© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

AY 31, 2021, ISSUE 1394


TRANSACT IONS PERKINS EASTMAN AND PFEIFFER PARTNERS ARCHITECTS MERGE Uniting the creative energies of two legacy firms, Perkins Eastman and Pfeiffer Partners Architects have announced their pending merger, which will combine the formidable talents, culture, and design processes of both. Perkins Eastman, a global architecture and design firm with more than 1,000 employees, has worked on projects on five continents in 60 countries. Its portfolio reflects expertise in multiple practice areas with globally-renowned strengths in healthcare, senior living, large scale mixed use, higher education, K-12, hospitality, and workplace design as well as planning, urban design, and strategic consulting. Pfeiffer, a successor firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, based in Los Angeles and New York City, is known for its depth of experience in the arts, libraries, historic preservation, renovations, adaptive reuse, and interior design as well as creative design solutions. This mutually-beneficial merger provides a platform for collaboration across disciplines and offices, combining the opportunity to draw on the considerable market credibility, resources, and geographic reach that Perkins Eastman provides with the design expertise in programming, planning, architecture, and interior design that Pfeiffer offers. The two firms share a strong commitment to client service, mentoring, research, and design innovation. “This merger is an important milestone in our long-term plans to build a firm that can offer the breath of design and thought leadership our clients are seeking,” says Bradford Perkins, FAIA, chairman of Perkins Eastman. “Pfeiffer brings internationally-recognized experience and skills in key areas – all of which complement Perkins Eastman’s established

capabilities. We believe this new union will open up exciting new opportunities for all of us.” “Joining forces with Perkins Eastman will allow Pfeiffer to continue to focus on our core areas while expanding our geographic and typological reach,” says William Murray, FAIA, a founding principal of Pfeiffer. “For some time, our principals have discussed how best to grow our practice on both coasts as well as internationally, while retaining our identity and commitment to design excellence. When Brad approached us about a potential merger, the idea very much aligned with our long-term goals. Perkins Eastman, like Pfeiffer, offers a broad range of architectural solutions; not choosing to practice a particular architectural style but instead creating dynamic new environments that respond to the physical, cultural, and social context in which they’re located. The firm is also committed to a process of collaboration, client service, and professional growth of its staff. They are the perfect fit for us.” Pfeiffer, now known as Pfeiffer – a Perkins Eastman studio, will lead key practice areas in the combined firm, including in the arts, libraries, and renovation/preservation/ adaptable reuse, joining Perkins Eastman leaders in HEST (higher education/science and technology), healthcare, senior living, large scale mixed use, K-12, hospitality, and workplace design. While the firms’ New York studios will co-locate, their respective studios in Los Angeles, which are close to one another, will physically remain where they are, while being technologically connected. The teams look forward to working collaboratively on joint projects. Perkins Eastman is a global design firm founded on the belief that design can have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives.

The firm’s award-winning practice draws on its 1,000 professionals networked across 19 studios worldwide. By keeping the user’s needs foremost in the design process, the firm enhances the human experience across the spectrum of the built environment. Since November of 2019, the firm has completed three state-of-the-art healthcare facilities, Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California, The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care at Memorial Sloan Kettering Center in New York, New York, and MarinHealth Medical Center in Greenbrae, California. Perkins Eastman’s Chicago studio was recently named the first project in Illinois, one of only six in the U.S., and one of only 35 worldwide to become WELL v.2 Platinum Certified. Pfeiffer is a U.S. design firm whose projects for cultural and educational clients marry smart planning with unusually effective client and team engagement for imaginative architectural solutions. Pfeiffer’s professionals – architects, planners, and interior designers, – have been drawn together by a shared philosophy regarding the built environment. The firm is about architecture, planning, and interior design realized in a cross-disciplinary process to design human experience in places that bring people together. Strong in library projects, Pfeiffer designed one of the nation’s first net zero 24/7 academic libraries, Colorado College’s Tutt Library – an innovative renovation and expansion recognized with several awards, among them the 2019 AIA/LA Library Building Award. The firm has recently completed the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Warner IMIG Music Building addition and the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center at Gonzaga University.

project managers. It’s in a newly-published project development manual and took about a year to produce. We launched a project development department and added some corporate resources. We found that many project managers felt they had to do everything well, so we created a robust project manger assistant program to assist with more administrative functions and to help create consistency across the board. We have six areas of excellence that we focus on and project management is one of them. We also use “Strength Finders” to help project managers understand where their strengths truly lie. together.’ It’s nine words all together, but when you take it apart, it’s meant literally.” “Trust plays into our overall mission statement: ‘Building community by creating inventive, relevant built environments


JE: When I came on board as CEO, we named new roles and assembled a new executive leadership team. We talk about this a lot. We’ve revamped a lot of processes and gotten buy-in, company-wide. That’s important. We focus on being an open and transparent business. It starts with the board, partners, and associates and trickles down to the rest of the staff. To have successful change management you have to have trust. You have to tell the “why” behind change and communicate that change is happening for a reason – not just change for change sake. Change management has to be very deliberate and when people embrace it, energy comes from it. 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? JE: We’ve just created a new set of best practices for

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




She belongs here

Biases and self-image issues can dampen girls’ interest in STEM from a young age, but the AEC industry can take action to change this trend.

O ver the past year, I became more committed to elevating women within the AEC industry. In 2020, I was honored to be selected for Zweig Group’s inaugural ElevateHer cohort group. The cohort group included 26 women and men across the country working together to address recruitment and retention of women working in the AEC industry.

Shibani Bisson

What drew me to apply to this program was a staggering statistic identified in a recent Zweig Group survey of AEC firms – that 100 percent of women surveyed considered leaving the AEC industry. This stat, along with other staggering statistics about the number of females entering the industry and then leaving, helped form the foundation for ElevateHer. Jamie Claire Kiser, principal of Zweig Group and creator of ElevateHer said, “The goal is not to check the box but to make a cultural change that changes the shape, color, and outline of the ‘boxes’ themselves with a sweeping paradigm shift in how we understand the potential of our teams.” My cohort group’s initial goal was to address and

mitigate biases and stomp stereotypes in the industry. This was a big issue to tackle. During our ElevateHer kickoff meeting, I kept thinking back to how I felt being an engineer in this industry, the stories I heard from the cohort, and how at times we felt like we did not belong. These thoughts eventually spurred what would later be our #SheBelongsHere campaign to reinforce that women belong in the AEC industry. Our research identified that because of established traditional gender roles, society often does not associate or expect women to be engineers or to hold positions in construction or leadership. It’s not necessarily that our employers, co-workers,




ON THE MOVE DEWBERRY ANNOUNCES PROMOTIONS IN FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced the promotion of nearly 50 employees nationwide, including 15 in the firm’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. The promotions coincide with Dewberry’s ongoing expansion of engineering, architectural, and consulting services in the D.C. metropolitan region, where the firm has practiced since 1956. These promotions include: ❚ ❚ Chris dePascale, PE, Jean Huang, PE, CFM, ENV SP, Stephen Kalaf, PMP, CFM, and Mathew Mampara, PE have been promoted to vice president. dePascale is a client manager for the mid-Atlantic site/ civil group. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Connecticut (1996). dePascale is a licensed professional engineer in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Huang is the program management director for the resilience solutions group. She earned both her bachelor’s (1998) and master’s (2002) degrees in civil engineering from Virginia Tech. Huang is a member of Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), New York State Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association, and the Project Management Institute (PMI). She is a licensed professional engineer in Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Huang

is also a certified floodplain manager and project management professional. Kalaf is the executive director of quality assurance leading the firm’s quality program and is a senior project manager in the resilience solutions group. He received his bachelor’s degree in geography from Frostburg State University (1978) and is a member of the American Society for Quality, PMI, and ASFPM. Kalaf is also a certified floodplain manager and project management professional. Mampara is the director of innovation for the resilience solutions group. He earned his master’s degree in water resources engineering from the State University of New York (2002) and his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cornell University (1996). He is a licensed professional engineer in Maryland and is a member of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) and ASCE. ❚ ❚ Jean O’Toole, AIA, PMP, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, has been promoted to principal. She is a business unit manager for a team of civic, federal, healthcare, and justice architects. O’Toole earned her Bachelor of Science in architecture (1990) and Bachelor of Architecture (1991) from the Catholic University of America and is a registered architect in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and New York. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and PMI.

❚ ❚ Siamak Esfandiary, Ph.D., PE, and Robert Snow, PE, PMP, have been promoted to associate vice president. Esfandiary is a program manager in the resilience solutions group. He obtained his doctorate (2001) and his master’s degree in civil engineering (1997) from the City University of New York. Esfandiary earned his bachelor’s degree in irrigation engineering from the Isfahan University of Technology (1996) and is a member of the American Water Resources Association, Society of Risk Analysis, and ASFPM. Snow is a senior project manager in the federal group. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Florida (2000), and is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia, as well as a licensed project management professional. Snow is a member of PMI and SAME. 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.

SHIBANI BISSON, from page 9

of STEM to girls and women. One other finding from our research was that if women persisted in STEM at the same rate as men starting in Calculus I, the number of women entering the STEM workforce would increase by 75 percent. To provide the most impact, we needed to start changing that visual with school aged girls and boys. Our message was, “We need to see it to be it!” We developed two campaign messages, #SheBelongsHere and #GirlsCanBuildTheWorld, that illustrate to girls that someone who looks just like them belongs in AEC careers to help shift the narrative. The materials created included two YouTube videos and educational materials for students. Although there is still a lot of work to do, it feels good to take action and to support women within the AEC industry and our future female engineers. The ElevateHer experience was and continues to empower me and was the highlight of my 2020! I’m thankful that WSB was supportive of my involvement with ElevateHer and of this initiative. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion at WSB is something I’m proud to be part of. SHIBANI BISSON is a senior project manager with WSB. She has more than 20 years of experience as a municipal engineer for several communities. Contact her at . Editor’s note: This article was originally published on WSB’s website .

or clients make us feel that way, but it’s the unconscious bias and expectations of the traditional female role. These biases and stereotypes are improving, and we are making progress with diversity initiatives in the industry, but the statistics of the number of women entering the AEC industry is still not improving and we wanted to better understand why. “There is a leaky pipeline in the industry where girls interested in STEM are passively falling out of STEM because of biases and self-image ... We knew this was a narrative that needed to change and there were actions we could take to help open the world of STEM to girls and women.” From our research, there is a leaky pipeline in the industry where girls interested in STEM are passively falling out of STEM because of biases and self-image. Confidence levels in girls typically start dropping at the fourth grade level. We knew this was a narrative that needed to change and there were actions we could take to help open the world

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.




You can win the talent war

Here are 12 things you can actually change in your business that will help you win the talent war.

E veryone is talking about the talent war in our industry these days, and it seems to me too many companies act as if there is little to nothing they can do to win. The conclusion so many have come to is that our colleges and universities aren’t turning out enough graduates who have the desire and capabilities to enter and succeed in our industry, and therefore they will be unable to hire the people they need to grow. While that may in fact be the case, it doesn’t mean any one firm necessarily has to struggle with finding truly outstanding people.

Mark Zweig

If you want to succeed in recruiting and retaining the best possible talent, you cannot do things like you have always done them. Here is what I would be doing to win this war: 1) Be super-aggressive with your recruiting efforts. Post every job online. Go out to your employees first so they can be considered. Use every social media channel. Spend money consistently on recruitment advertising. Hire an in-house recruiter. Get an outside recruiter on contract. Talk about recruiting with your people. Track and report your numbers and results. 2) Make good employment offers. I just had a discussion with someone who is trying to fill a key job with an architecture firm. The firm supposedly REALLY wanted to hire a specific individual but

would only pay a base salary about $50,000 less than the person was already making. Why make an offer then? Face the reality that if you want to hire someone who has skills and backgrounds you don’t currently have, you could very well have to pay more than you are paying your existing people. Get over it. 3) Ramp up your co-op and intern programs. Nothing is better than witnessing how people perform in your company over time, which is why you should consistently staff with as many co-ops and interns as you can afford. It also helps to teach at your local university where you can identify the best talent. On top of that, people who co-oped or interned with companies and who go to work there

See MARK ZWEIG, page 12



ON THE MOVE KEVIN LEVESQUE JOINS DEWBERRY’S INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATER PRACTICE Dewberry , a privately held professional services and construction firm, has announced that Kevin Levesque, PE, has been hired as a senior project manager in the firm’s Raleigh, North Carolina, office. Levesque joins the firm with nearly 20 years of experience in the design and installation of industrial wastewater treatment systems, including closed-loop wastewater treatment and recycling systems. As a member of Dewberry’s industrial wastewater treatment practice, Levesque will be responsible for supporting the growth of

the firm’s wastewater treatment group, with a focus on design-build delivery. “As we continue to grow our industrial wastewater treatment team in an effort to better support our manufacturing clients, I’m thrilled to welcome Kevin to our team,” says Dewberry Associate Vice President Katie Jones, PE. “Kevin’s background in design- build and industrial projects is a great addition to our group.” Levesque earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Hartford (2007) and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Connecticut (2002).

Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional and construction 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.

MARK ZWEIG, from page 11

messy, dirty, and dated environments that are boring and undifferentiated. No wonder no one wants to work there. 9) Be flexible about your policies for when and where your people have to work. This is a must today. The pandemic proved it can work. You can’t afford to lose anyone who is good because of your rigidity and inflexibility. Let people live where they want to live and work how they want to work if you want to be able to hire and retain top talent! 10) Train your managers in how to manage people. As my friend, Matt Lewis, general manager of Lewis Automotive Group, likes to say, “Don’t forget the word ‘management’ includes the word ‘manage!’” If people with technical or design backgrounds get thrust into management jobs with absolutely no training, is it surprising that they screw up? No, it isn’t! You have got to give your managers the training they need to deal with people effectively. More people quit because of bad managers than anything else. “If you want to succeed in recruiting and retaining the best possible talent, you cannot do things like you have always done them.” 11)Drive demand beyond your ability to supply it. That means keep pouring gas on the marketing and promotion fire so you can pick and choose the clients and projects you take on. When you are in this mode, your employees will appreciate the quality of work they get to do and that is super important to keeping them engaged and working there. Not to mention all of that marketing and promotional activity will increase awareness of your company and get more people trying to work there. 12) Spend time with your best people. Whomever is most important to you – spend time with them. Show your interest and care and you will be more likely to keep them there in your employ. It just makes sense. So there you have it. Twelve things you can actually change in your business that will help you win the talent war. Are you doing these things? Or are you just hand-wringing about the talent shortage but essentially changing nothing that will help you hire and retain the best and brightest? MARK ZWEIG is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at .

full-time upon graduation tend to stay much longer than those who haven’t. 4) Get everyone involved in your business planning process. People want to participate. Everyone in any given company should be asked for their opinions, at a minimum, on the issues the firm is facing and how they think these should be addressed. People want their opinions to be heard and considered! The business planning process is where you do that. 5) Have a strong sense of purpose. This alone can help you overcome any obstacle to hiring. IF you really have a strong sense of purpose – and not some BS statement full of platitudes that mean little to nothing – you will be able to hire outstanding people. The best example of this I know of is Miyamoto International, Inc., whose stated goal is to “make the world a better, safer place.” When their CEO personally goes to most every natural disaster site in the world to help out in any way he can, it sets an example for everyone else there and says, “this is real.” 6) Use open-book management. People want to know how the company they work for is doing. It also builds trust with management. Working anywhere where you don’t have a deep understanding of the financial situation would be foolhardy in my opinion. And I don’t think I’m alone. Open- book companies perform better and they train a whole new cadre of managers through their regular sharing of key financial indicators. 7) Cut everyone in on the profits. If the company performs, everyone who works there should benefit, period. I’m not talking about a once a year discretionary bonus program, either. It has to be paid out more frequently than that, and everyone should know what has to happen for them to get whatever it is they are getting. If someone doesn’t deserve to get their share of the pie they shouldn’t be working there. Yet so few firms truly use open-book management. It’s sad. 8) Have a fun work environment. I recently visited the headquarters of Priority Bicycles in New York City. Besides a great location at 171 Hudson, their space is alive with happy people working in a light-filled space surrounded by cool stuff and technology. Is it any wonder they are growing like crazy and have amazing customer service when everyone works in such a stimulating and fun environment? It pervades everything they do. Too many design and engineering firms are still working in uninspired,

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


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