On August 4-6, 2017, the ASCE Committee on Younger Members hosted the annual Younger Member Leadership Symposium (YMLS) at ASCE Headquarters in Reston, Virginia. The conference brought together 49 Younger Members from across the country to network, discuss pressing issues facing the civil engineering profession, and develop a variety of soft skills necessary for effective leadership.
The symposium hit the ground running with the start of the pre-conference activities at 8 AM on Friday morning. The energized group of engineers headed into Washington, D.C. for a day full of adventure. After sharing a few fun facts about one another on the bus, they toured the newly restored U.S. Capitol Building.
The group then walked over to the ASCE Government Relations office where they ate lunch, took in the beautiful view and learned about the various resources that ASCE has to offer in order to facilitate member involvement in public policy at the local, state and national level.
A monument walking tour, which included the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial, followed the tour of the ASCE Government Relations office. Members took the opportunity to take fun photos along the way with their newly made friends.
Later that afternoon, the pre-conference activities concluded back in Reston with a technical tour. Attendees learned about the engineering, public outreach, requirements and maintenance that make up a stream restoration project. The Reston Association works with developers to fully fund their projects, since many of them need to purchase credits and do so in advance. This particular stream was initially highly eroded and recently completed.
Those who arrived later on Friday and did not make their way into Washington, D.C., spent their afternoon learning about one of ASCE’s Strategic Initiatives, Raise the Bar. Attendees had the opportunity to meet with ASCE’s “Raise the Bar” director, Kelly Dooley and learned about how the initiative plans to elevate the professional licensure requirements to match their current body of knowledge definition, which is the set of knowledge gained during a typical undergraduate engineering curriculum. Kelly explained that ASCE began exploring Raise the Bar as far back as the 1990’s, but it wasn’t until about ten years ago that it started to transform ideas into actions. Through a brainstorming session, attendees learned about three paths that ASCE has considered.
- Accept that the current body of knowledge definition established by ASCE is greater than current licensure requirements and do nothing,
- Attempt to elevate licensure requirements to match the body of knowledge, such as requiring an advanced degree or additional coursework to sit for the P.E. exam, or
- Offer something, such as special certifications, in addition to the professional license that, when held in conjunction with the license, will equal the current body of knowledge definition.
Option 2 is currently being explored by ASCE through lobbying of state legislatures. Efforts have been made in several states to reach out to the local ASCE sections and branches and even legislators themselves. Although this is the direction that ASCE is currently pursuing, either of the other two options, as well as potential others, could prove valuable as well.
Younger Members all came together later that day to officially kick off the 2017 YMLS with an Introduction to Communication Styles and Personal Vision. Here attendees had a chance to reflect on their natural styles, tendencies, and preferences. For example, each person was able to identify with one of the four communication styles (i.e., Analytical, Driver, Expressive, Amiable), which were each represented using a color, bird, and various observable behaviors.
○ Color: Blue
○ Bird: Owl
○ Observable Behaviors: Showing no bias, Objective, Detached Cautious, Analytical, Precise, Questioning and Formal
○ Color: Red
○ Bird: Eagle
○ Observable Behaviors: Positive, Affirmative, Bold, Assertive Competitive, Decisive, Strong‐willed, Demanding and Task/Goal focused
○ Color: Yellow
○ Bird: Peacock
○ Observable Behaviors: Social, Dynamic, Demonstrative, Expressive and Creative
○ Color: Green
○ Bird: Dove
○ Observable Behaviors: Still, Tranquil, Calming, Soothing Sharing, Patient, Amiable, Caring and Encouraging
Saturday consisted of a deeper dive into one’s interpersonal skill set. Building upon the previous night’s work, attendees started the morning by examining their personal balance, values, and purpose in order to develop their personal vision.
The inward-looking exercise was followed by a broad comparison of managers and leaders before attendees learned how to improve their own managing, leading and personal leadership styles.
The next session consisted of an introduction to the ASCE Committee on Leadership and Management’s Supercharge your Career. Ranjit Sahai provided an introduction to the Managing Yourself portion of the Leadership module, which consisted of avoiding distractions, prioritization tips and ways of dealing with time wasters
The mentorship panel, a new addition to YMLS this year, featured leaders of the civil engineering profession across many disciplines, from various backgrounds, and with different levels of experience. Panelists answered questions regarding the importance of mentorship, generational differences, international teams, and areas of improvement among other things.
Kristina Swallow, ASCE President-Elect, spoke about the importance of work-life balance, discussed what works and doesn’t work for her, and gave attendees some specific examples of how they too can achieve a more balanced life.
The following session, presented by Tom Smith, ASCE Executive Director, and Tara Hoke, ASCE General Counsel, discussed tips & strategies for successful negotiating in any setting. Attendees had the opportunity to put these tips and strategies into action while negotiating salaries during mock interviews.
Attendees concluded the day learning how to deal with difficult conversations before putting those skills to the test during entertaining skits.
Sunday morning wrapped everything up and tied together the various topics that had been discussed throughout the weekend in order for attendees to hone in on their personal communication and leadership styles before heading back home.
Attendees began learning much more about the four communication styles before plotting themselves on a life-size axis, which allowed everyone to see where they all fell on the Analytical, Amiable, Driver, and Expressive spectrum.
The group then learned about managing problem projects from Jeremy Chrzan. Topics covered included scope creep, contract language, project structure, budget, schedules, and developing solutions.
The 2017 YMLS concluded with a discussion regarding decision fatigue and a variety of tools that can help us minimize its effects.
Thanks to all of those who attended and helped plan the event!
Lastly, thank you to the sponsors!
ASCE Government Relations
ASCE Committee on Leadership and Management