TZL 1413 (web)


resulting in new certifications, skill sets, and responsibilities. Our firm focuses on partnering with our clients to deliver the resources they do not have in-house. For many of our clients, we provide staff extension, program management, and project management services to help meet their needs. In other cases, we provide the design and construction management team they cannot staff internally. “We’ve been aggressively recruiting to stay ahead of our clients’ needs, implementing staff referral bonuses, highly competitive benefits such as wellness stipends and education reimbursement.” TZL: How do you anticipate COVID-19 permanently impacting your firm’s policy on telecommuting? MN: We’ve seen our senior staff adapt very well, so we plan to continue allowing remote work. This opens more opportunities to recruit staff too. The greatest challenges have been with entry-level engineers. They really need to interact with senior staff to learn and grow. We are trying to encourage the staff who need support and mentoring to be in the office, while still allowing flexibility to accommodate their own personal needs and challenges, especially during the pandemic. TZL: How much time do you spend working “in the business” rather than “on the business?” MN: I find it is a challenge to balance the work required to manage a rapidly- growing firm while still managing my own deliverables for clients. I would say it is 50/50. I started the firm because I love engineering and I continue to work on projects for clients. I have personally worked for some of these agencies for 15 to 20 years, so I have history on their facilities and programs. I also enjoy working with junior staff and taking part in their development and find that projects are the most efficient way to train staff and share knowledge. TZL: What skills are required to run a successful practice? What do you wish you knew starting out that you know now? MN: Technical expertise, communication

skills, and the ability to motivate and organize others are all necessary for success, and I aspire to improve my abilities in all these areas. These are also the skills we look for in our company’s leaders. Prior to starting out, I wish I had a stronger background in tax planning. I’ve learned on the job and have also hired an experienced accounting firm and tax credit specialist to lead these efforts. It’s made a big difference in our financial success. TZL: Are you using the R&D tax credit? If so, how is it working for your firm? If not, why not? MN: Yes – the past few years we’ve pursued R&D tax credits. It has made a huge difference in the tax liability for firm owners, which directly benefits the company. TZL: Does your firm work closely with any higher education institutions to gain access to the latest technology, experience, innovation, and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? MN: Yes, we are a platinum sponsor of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and are involved at Fresno State University and University of California at Irvine. We use these as opportunities for finding interns, entry-level hires, and for partnering with faculty on projects as opportunities arise. “Technical expertise, communication skills, and the ability to motivate and organize others are all necessary for success, and I aspire to improve my abilities in all these areas.” 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? MN: My first boss and mentor was a water treatment engineer at a consulting firm in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was an excellent mentor and routinely redlined my work, provided constructive feedback and detailed guidance, took me out in the field, and gave me a strong interest in treatment. I had a great experience See GUIDE AND SUPPORT, page 8





❚ ❚ Arroyo Grande, CA

❚ ❚ Irvine, CA

❚ ❚ Oceanside, CA

❚ ❚ Bakersfield, CA

❚ ❚ Newhall, CA

❚ ❚ Fresno, CA

❚ ❚ Ventura, CA


❚ ❚ Infrastructure

❚ ❚ Treatment

❚ ❚ Planning and hydraulic modeling

❚ ❚ Program management

❚ ❚ Construction management

MKN’S PROMISE: From planning to design to construction, the MKN team goes above and beyond to add value to clients’ projects, and make their water resource system a reality. MKN knows that conserving water is critical for California, which makes it critical that its clients’ projects succeed.

© Copyright 2021. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

OBER 18, 2021, ISSUE 1413

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