The 2009 Best Firm To Work For Summit

Whether it—s top-notch engineering skills, or a truly singular architectural acuity, the best consulting firm leaders know talent when they see it. The challenge is attracting, motivating, and retaining that talent in a tenuous environment characterized by travel restrictions, salary freezes, and layoffs.

The 2009 Best Firm To Work For Summit, presented by CE News, Structural Engineer, The Zweig HR Letter, and the Environmental Business Journal, hits Chicago Sept. 22-23, 2009, and promises to deliver the critical strategies and tactics that today—s architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firm leaders and human-resource professionals need to survive in the current competitive environment.

Improving on 2008, this year—s two-day conference includes more keynote presentations and intensive focus sessions built around four central themes:

  • Doing more with less —” Maintaining productivity, profitability, and morale with limited resources;
  • Nuts and bolts —” Creating successful and financially responsible programs and processes;
  • Training and development —” How the Best Firms To Work For motivate and engage employees in tough times; and
  • Employee/management relations —” The ongoing importance of culture in great workplaces.

Keynote sessions
Getting Comfortable on the Edge: Exploring Culture, Leadership Development, and Decision-Making in Tough Times; by Bruce Haldors, president, Transpo Group
These tough times have been an absolute test in character, resilience, and one—s ability to continue to provide leadership and guidance amidst so much uncertainty. So, how has your firm weathered the storm? Have you taken this opportunity to reevaluate the identity and culture of your firm? Haldors explores how these economic conditions have forced his firm to get comfortable on the edge. He will share insights on why leadership has never been so important, and how having both hands on the wheel has helped guide his firm to embrace and improve its values and culture.

The Big Disconnect: Why Most Leaders Miss Out on Engaging the Next Generation; by Bill Benjamin, CEO, Institute for Health and Human Potential
The largest generation of people in history —” some 77.5 million people —” are about to retire. During the next five to 15 years, the workplace will welcome a new generation of leaders. Organizations that can—t figure out how to keep and engage this new generation of employees will lose out. This keynote provides a framework to better understand the generational tension that exists in most workplaces. In addition, Benjamin will show how the tools of Emotional Intelligence are critical to successfully bridging this gap.

Being a Best Place to Work: What—s all the Buzz and What Does it Take?; by Peter Burke, president, Best Companies Group
Burke will share tips, tactics, and strategies from some of the most successful organizations on what it takes to make a firm a best place to work. In addition, he will explore how firms have continued to ensure their legacy thrives in the current challenging environment. Other topics covered include how leaders can get on track to become a best place to work, strategies for surviving the down economy, and how best-place-to-work principles can contribute to overall financial health of an organization.

Employee Engagement and Your Firm—s Success; by Debbie Norris, MA, SPHR, vice president of human resources, Merrick & Company
Find out how one company has created a culture of ownership and responsibility for the firm—s successes throughout all levels of the organization. In this session, Norris will talk about the challenges in getting that buy-in and how creating this type of culture has had an impact on her firm. In addition, she will provide strategies and tactics to achieve similar results.

Taking Action in Tough Times: Executive Mindshare Panel; moderated by John D. Doehring, Jr., principal and managing director, Strategy and Financial Advisory Services, ZweigWhite
Leaders of the most successful organizations recognize that a commitment to operational excellence is even more important in today—s environment. Every firm leader knows that talented, motivated, and dedicated personnel are the key to a firm—s success. In this executive discussion, a panel of leaders will share stories, tips, and anecdotes on how they are taking action and positioning their firms to succeed in these challenging times. Topics to be explored include compensation, benefits, recognition programs, training, and firm culture that continues to inspire ongoing commitment.

For more information or to register for The Best Firm To Work For Summit, visit

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