an effective tool for people to balance their careers and personal lives. TZL: What are your top concerns about the industry right now? What are you doing to address them? CN: There are two big ones: 1. Construction cost escalation. While costs are coming down somewhat we are still concerned about stubbornly high construction costs eating into the buying power of various infrastructure funding sources. We’re in constant contact with regulators and clients about managing the timing for funding various projects and extending the deadlines for construction to help manage costs. 2. Workforce. The AEC industry is extremely busy. There is more work than there are people to do the work. This is causing a variety of challenges including rapidly rising wages, higher turnover, and concerns for what happens when the industry normalizes. MJ has extremely low turnover, around one-third of the industry average, but I see very high turnover elsewhere, particularly at many of the largest companies in our industry. TZL: Have you had a particular mentor who has guided you – in school, in your career, or in general? Who were they and how did they help? CN: My mentor early on in my career was a four feet five inches tall woman named Deserine Jordan. I knew her during my time in the Navy when I worked as an air traffic controller. I’ll never forget her energy and how good she was at her job. She helped me learn the importance of a strong work ethic, patience, and paying it back to others who are trying to advance in their careers. “Trust takes time. It typically results from being in the trenches with a client and helping them through challenging projects.” TZL: Trust is essential. How do you earn the trust of your clients? CN: Trust takes time. It typically results from being in the trenches with a client and helping them through challenging projects. For example, awhile back, I was very sick with the flu and there was a meeting they needed to attend that we all knew would be
a contentious one. I dragged myself to the meeting, got up, and talked about the issue and stood up for the client. They always remembered that and knew I would do whatever it took and always act in their best interest. I’m very proud to say that each year we send out anonymous client surveys and this past year, 100 percent – let me say that again – 100 percent of them said they would hire us again. “People interact with various forms of infrastructure every day. We seek to constantly improve that interaction and improve our environment.” TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? CN: You have to be well rounded and a good listener. You don’t have to be an expert in every area, but you should have a strong understanding of what everyone is doing. You need to have a people knowledge as well as business knowledge. Pay attention to those things you learn in school such as revenue and utilization because you’ll be using them again. Finally, hire the right people and give them the tools they need to succeed. TZL: What makes you excited about the future of the industry and the firm? CN: The currently stable funding and continued melding of technology into everything we do in the AEC industry makes it an exciting industry to be in. The technology arm of MJ is our InfraSolutions Division. This division combines traditional planning, design, and construction services with a wide range of technologies such as UAS, software development, and visualizations to name a few. TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? CN: Diversity is definitely lacking in our industry. Here are a few things we’re doing:
McFarland Johnson doesn’t
really have one.
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES:
YEAR FOUNDED: 1946
OFFICE LOCATIONS: 22
Buildings and facilities
We offer a paid parental leave program
MJ has a Women in STEM employee resource group We include diverse colleges and universities in our recruiting efforts
See MAKING A DIFFERENCE, page 8
© Copyright 2023. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.
UARY 30, 2023, ISSUE 1474
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