Jamie Claire Kiser, Managing Principal, Zweig Group
During this bright new start to a fresh year and decade, firms and professionals across the country will embark on strong resolutions and major strategic initiatives. In similar optimistic – though clear-eyed – fashion, I am truly excited to be part of this time in this industry. We are experiencing an introspective wave, a confluence of ideas and factors from economic to environmental coupled with fresh voices and higher aspirations that, as an advisor to civil and structural engineering firms, is thrilling.
The talent shortage facing our industry, along with the missing middle tier that abandoned engineering during the last recession, means we are going to be forced to reconcile our preference for a certain definition of sufficient experience and reconsider the role of the project manager and the principal alike in the coming years. There will be tension and concern about elevating younger staff to traditionally more tenured roles. While these conversations unfold, we will improve as businesses by allowing the way we have always done things to give way to the companies of the future. We will question the path to licensure, the role of the engineer in the built environment, and we will design workplace practices that will reflect new voices and changing workforce demographics along the way. This isn’t a crystal-ball projection; it’s the reality of the data and the it’s reflected everywhere from job descriptions to conference agendas.
It will no longer be enough to be an engineering firm with a reputation for technical expertise in the next decade. We will continue to hear firms talk more about “purpose” and realize – with heads held as high as our tallest projects reach – that the professionals in the AEC community have an exceedingly noble calling, one that we have to fight to keep from commoditizing, better reflect in how we win work and how we charge for every precious hour of our expertise, and bear in mind as we embrace every single strategic advantage that technology can offer.
I hope that our organization can use our publications and our platforms to support the upcoming decade by highlighting stories that allow each reader to better speak to AEC’s contributions to the world with confidence and pride. With reinvigorated talent, laser-focus on running successful businesses, and alignment behind purpose and passion for the work that we do, we will – together – bring in a new era for AEC.
To a flourishing 2020 and beyond!
Jamie Claire Kiser is managing principal and CFO at Zweig Group. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.