When working with clients, it’s not essential to be the smartest person in the room, but it is necessary to be the best listener. Genuinely hearing clients when they speak about issues and partnering to resolve them is paramount to the project and the working relationship. Also, I’m not sure young professionals recognize the intrinsic value of building relationships with clients. Establishing credibility and earning trust is a journey.
I have also discovered that I’m adept at working with operations and maintenance (O&M) personnel to help them maximize their budgets and plan for future maintenance and repairs. For example, some hydraulic steel structures have cyclical inspection requirements—say every 10 years. Much of the maintenance being conducted on these structures is a result of the observations made during these obligatory inspections. I have found that many facilities can benefit from developing a more proactive approach to managing their aging infrastructure. By doing so, they can extend the life of their assets while reducing the likelihood of larger capital improvement projects along the way.