Who are you, and what do you do?
My business partner and I perform consulting services for dam owners and dam designers. Our background is in dam construction, so we apply our past experience to current rehabilitation and new design projects in the areas of feasibility, constructibility, cost estimation and scheduling. This aids the designers and owners in forecasting project costs, and helping to minimize change orders and construction delays.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
Don’t be afraid to listen to everyone in the room. The most knowledgeable person isn’t necessarily one of the PhD’s. It may be the laborer who has experience building what others design, that has the best idea.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
I once had a superior that treated me satisfactorily, but was brutal to our intern and a few others. He was a jackass. I called my operations manager, to complain about how he was treating some of the people on our job. My operations manager listened to me intently. Then he asked if I had talked to my supervisor directly. I had not. He encouraged me to do so, and said that if I didn’t get results, then he would get involved.
I spoke with my superior, and he listened. Talking with him directly was the best approach. I shouldn’t have attempted to “jump” the chain of command.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
I believe there will be more need for services that we provide. The national infrastructure is aging at a faster pace than it can be repaired, and they are continually adding new dams which is compounding the issue.
There are great opportunities for more people to do what we do, but very few entering this niche.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
For some services to be performed in-house, when there are others out there that may specialize in that work – especially on the cost estimation side. Often times the work is performed by junior engineers, that don’t have the experience to adequately estimate project costs. This results in inaccurate budgets being set. This can sometimes negatively affect the project timeline
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
More work. We have to.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
Anything by Louis L’Amour. The main character always acts with integrity.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up through the trenches. You will end up with a better breadth of knowledge about your field, by working in all levels of it.
The advice from themselves about how much they know, because of a diploma. The diploma means that you have learned things that others have deemed important for you to know, at a minimum. The real learning begins at work.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
The ox is slow, but the earth is patient