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Is Your Workplace Dope?

Evelyn March
EvelynMarch
Group Director
BST Global
Are you creating a dope workplace? And by dope, I’m sure you’re wondering if the slang is being used as an adjective, as in: very good. Or if the reference is to the noun, meaning an illegal drug taken for recreational purposes. While the word ‘dope’ carries several meanings, it’s similarity to the word ‘dopamine’ is purely coincidental. But the kinship is undeniable; they both spawn continual reward-seeking behavior. In 1958, the chemical dopamine was discovered by Dr. Arvid Carlsson. Essentially, it is a neurotransmitter in the brain, which controls the stored memory function that tells us we have completed something good, and to repeat that behavior to receive a reward. For patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s diseases, Dr. Carlsson discovered that this neurotransmitter was in declination. His discovery paved the way for science to formulate the utilization of dopamine to lessen the effects of these disorders. Equipped with this core knowledge of dopamine’s effect on behavior, several deductions can be made. For example, dopamine helps us learn things quickly and permanently. But continued releases can cause a ‘seeking’ or addictive behavior. Finding Dope Employees In the business world, we as employers naturally seek out employees with adequate dopamine levels, whether we realize it or not. This is revealed by how well they’ve honed the craft or skill that makes them an employable candidate. Once we hire these candidates, it’s important to continue to excite this neurotransmitter through continual learning opportunities, as it leads to personal and professional successes. But, are there junctures where employers over-excite this chemical reaction? And if so, what are the consequences? A Connected World Take connectedness. Our world is connected. Our employees are connected. And that can be a good thing; after all, collaboration is the precursor to accomplishment. Having employees interact on ideas and problems leads to innovation and achievement. We send emails to those who provide the best input, often adding them to the top of the recipient list. What’s more, it’s not uncommon to see employees send a text or address a social media notification during work hours. We have accepted this practice as social norms that are a by-product of the instant information age we live in. Production Versus Disruption But when we see those email or social media notifications appear, the feeling of being sought after for interaction causes a rapid fire of that seeking neurotransmitter - dopamine. The dopamine rush creates an anticipation of reward that once ignited, the object that gave us that rush can become the object we seek. In this rapid-fire environment, the question arises: are we creating production or disruption? Is the portico to our dopamine rush allowed into work meetings? How many times have you been in a meeting and you or your neighbor glances at the buzzing phone on the table? Or listens with a half-perched ear as they respond to the email that just popped up on their laptop? Is the double dipping of time more productive, or creating a disruption in our ability to concentrate on the task at hand? Could we be the creators of our own oxymoron story by thoughtfully creating fulfilling roles, but making the workplace a dopamine-seeking society that makes one seek more, even when fulfillment is in their grasp? Creating A Truly Dope Place to Work Human Resource professionals have the arduous task of finding and retaining talent. As more employees enter the workplace looking for a career that fulfills an internal purpose, it’s not far-fetched to see talent leave because they just don’t find the work personally fulfilling. It’s time to evaluate if we are arbitrarily creating an environment that dopes employees into wanting more, over just creating a dope place to work. Some things to consider along the way: Make meetings phone and laptop free zones. Think: Does everyone need to be on that email? How about stopping by and having a conversation instead of the internal instant message? Is your training and development environment equipped to fire off the dopamine that spawns the desire to learn more? By creating a people-centric, collaborative learning environment, employees will surely feel that they’ve found the dope place to work. If you’d like to share how you’ve created a dope place to work, we’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Move Over Millennials, Introducing Generation Z

Evelyn March
EvelynMarch
Group Director
BST Global
Just when you learned to spell Millennials without a spellchecker, there's a new group emerging and entering the marketplace: Generation Z. Also known as Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, or the Homeland Generation. While the definitive date of when this group starts is still up for debate, the litmus test is if they can clearly remember where they were on 9/11. If they're too young to remember – they're a Gen Z-er. This group is growing up in a time where terrorism is a reality, they have felt the effects of a global recession and the debate over climate change is all they have known. Their households, neighborhoods, and friend list is as varied as Joseph's Technicolor Dreamcoat. What they define as normal is more diversified than any generation before. And they will be the workers of the future – the near future. As the trickle of Baby Boomers retiring continues, the emerging presence of Generation Z will begin to flood the market. So, what does that mean for employers? Forget the textbook answers Every generation wants to inspire the next to do and be more. Baby Boomers taught their Gen X children to go to college, learn more, and thus earn more. With age and education came wisdom. Generation Z will call that passé. Generation Z are privy to much more information at a younger age. Their porthole into the world is often exposed before they're introduced to formal education. Tablets, smartphones, laptops, television, videos, and wearable electronics are piping data into their brains making them historians far beyond textbook knowledge. The qualifier for knowledge of yesteryear may not work in the future market. Global yet local If there was one word to sum up the Gen Z approach to life, it would be hypersensitive. Living in an era where 77% of the generation have internet access, they are enlightened to global events. Whether the event is global warming or terrorism, they understand the actions abroad and they are well versed in the needs and attributes of their local environment. Where there was a desire to go forth and conquer in previous generations, Gen Z will want to stay close to home, yet have a global impact in their careers. In short, they're ready to change the world. Pluralists Historically, diversity has been defined based on ethnicity and gender. However, this Pluralist Generation challenges conventional wisdom as they accept and experience diversity on a micro level. Mixed race, single-sex households, and diverse religious affiliations are standard to them and expected in a single society. Because of their progressive acceptance, a new expectation of diversity will emerge. The Pluralist Generation will push for and expect micro diversity from their future employers. Re-education Ten percent of the apps on the Apple store are geared toward Generation Z. Re-education is essential to their wellbeing. They have an endless capacity to seek and retain data – that quest will not end after they receive their first paycheck. If your training and learning environment isn't continuously creating micro-learning opportunities, you may experience a revolving door of bored Generation Z employees. It's clear that this new generation will change the prototype of employee engagement. Shaped by technology, history, and economics we will soon employ a generation with unprecedented attributes. Are you ready? We'd love to hear how you're redefining your workplace for the generations here today and those expected tomorrow.

First Comes Diversity, Then Comes Inclusion

Evelyn March
EvelynMarch
Group Director
BST Global
In our micro-diverse society, many companies strive to mirror their peers, their clients, and the world at large. Creating a diverse work environment hones in on the cultural mix of experiences and acumens that team members bring. But after you've onboard this diverse community of talents, then what? The path to excellence I'm sure we all have a former teacher that made a statement that gave us an aha moment. Mine was my high school English teacher who memorably said 'Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.' That quote sums up the path to excellence and defines inclusion. Good companies market diversity and inclusion, great companies create a competitive edge by decoupling and then living the two. After bringing together a diverse staff, a company must define inclusion to forge the path to excellence. What's the difference? Inclusion integrated the myriad of individuals into one workplace – seamlessly and individually. Why is inclusion so important? People from diverse backgrounds challenge each other more. Challenge begets creativity. Creativity begets profitability. Getting it right first with diversity allows a company to peel back the corners of the world and how it may interact with your product through the eyes of your employees. Inclusive workplaces that create forums for individual contribution outperform competition and enjoy longer employee retention. The generations entering the workforce are raised believing it's unnecessary to downplay their differences in order to get ahead. They are proud of their differences and refuse to check them at the door. A Deloitte survey revealed that 86% of Millennials feel that differences of opinion allow teams to excel. Moreover, lack of inclusion can lead to a lack of engagement. And that affects a company's bottom line as disengaged employees cost companies up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity. Inclusion requires planning For many, inclusion is synonymous with chaos. But, it doesn't have to be. A forum for employee collaboration does require commitment and planning, but the reward is worth the investment. Align each position with the company's success. Every team member is essential. Understand where their insight is paramount and create the forum to extract their feedback. Create model leadership. Train your leaders to model ethical behavior. Accept input, admit mistakes, and express genuine concern for all staff members. Redefine ethics. Is your code of ethics a statement you expect from your employees or does it define what your employees can expect from you? Inclusion views ethics as bi-directional. Commit to training. First management, then employees. A corporate culture that creates standards on how to raise issues and resolve them and the consequences for deviation are setting themselves up for successful inclusion. If you're desiring the mix of employee engagement, reduced turnover, a clear picture on global outreach and increased profits – understanding your stance on inclusion may be your answer. Where do you stand on your inclusion policy? Let us know in a comment below.

Creating a Culture Mix of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation – And Who is Responsible?

Evelyn March
EvelynMarch
Group Director
BST Global
Let’s face it, there are countless articles in print and cyberspace that gives insight to the growing concern of tenure and turn-over. So, what really motivates employees to stay? Companies are adopting and promoting their extrinsic rewards as a reason to ‘work here’. Great pay, great healthcare, flexible spending accounts. Some companies have expanded their offerings to perks like gourmet meals, endless snacks, and on-site baristas. The package of extrinsic tangible rewards are appreciable motivators. However, even with such great extrinsic motivators, companies like Google are still experiencing a high level of turnover. A survey on employee tenure for the companies on the Fortune 500 list showed Google at number 462 with an average tenure of 1.1 years. On the other side, an article in Business Management Daily featured Synergis Technologies and its 108 employees have been with the organization for an average of 10 years. What’s the secret ingredient in Synergis’ secret sauce? The company’s core value mantra includes innovation. Employee innovation that is. The intangible intrinsic motivation of creative contribution is what makes it a bit harder to part ways. Who moved the cheese? Years ago when industrialization had taken the world by storm, work was primarily routine and guided by policy and procedure. Under that model, the extrinsic reward system were the motivators of the times. Today’s workforce is asked to employ critical thinking and problem solving in their daily tasks. These scenarios are not easily definable in a written manual. The freedom to express one’s creativity – that will in turn catapult the company in the marketplace – is a healthy, highly rewarding intrinsic motivator. With this change in landscape, it is imperative to see that extrinsic and intrinsic motivations are dually important in achieving successful employee engagement. Who's on first? Reading from a tattered corporate playbook, Human Resources is usually the kicker pulled off the bench to score the extra three points that scores the win for employee engagement. Though excellent in developing the extrinsic reward program, are they the best players to develop the intrinsic motivators required to keep employees engaged? Reviewing several companies studying the other side of the coin, they decided the answer is no. While invested in providing the talent for the company, they’re not necessarily engaged in the intricate details of the delivered product. The group that has come to the rescue is marketing. The marketing team is responsible for understanding what your customer needs, and why you and your product are the best choice to fulfill. Creating a two-way branding schema strengthens the allure of the company’s brand to both the receiver and deliverer. Do your employees really know what you do? Quality Bicycle Products, a Minneapolis company dedicated to bringing innovative ideas to the biking community understood that it was important to align the internal and external messaging of its values.  To foster the idea that we need to change our environmental footprint to its 185 employees, QBP offers a $2 per day credit to employees living within ten miles who choose to bike, bus or carpool to work. The marketing of an eco-friendly alternative to transportation was also marketed internally. Employees now feel that they are the greatest contributors to the company’s sustainability endeavors. Nike is best known the slogan ‘Just Do It’. Consuming their brand gives you the power to persevere. Whether you’re a cashier or an engineer, your intrinsic motivation to deliver that message is conveyed through corporate storytellers that act as internal marketers. Its rich heritage is conveyed through the stories of how Coach Bowerman created better running shoes for his team by pouring rubber into the family waffle iron, and that was the birthplace of the iconic Nike waffle sole. These stories of innovation provide archetypes that employees can pull from to create their own motivation toward greatness. These are just a few. Others like Starbucks, Disney, and IBM have great stories around creating intrinsic motivation by including the external branding to the internal teams. Creating a Success Story Balancing the two motivators is really about timing. Intrinsic motivation is inspired, not taught.  During the onboarding, introducing your product to your employee as you would your customer excites the intrinsic mind to work toward achieving a purpose. Continual sensory feeding is necessary to reignite the motivated employee. As you change your branding strategy are your employees engaged? Are they invested in the latest and the greatest that the outside world sees? When logos change and branding changes, are the employees also engaged in experiencing the change?  Are you taking full advantage of your extrinsic and intrinsic reward system to create the best employee experience? What motivators do you use at your firm? Tell us more in a comment below!

Does Corporate America Hold the Key to Education Reform?

Evelyn March
EvelynMarch
Group Director
BST Global
We live in a time where shift happens. And it’s happening at an alarming rate. In 1900 human knowledge doubled every 100 years. In 1945 it doubled every 25 years. In 2014, it doubled at the rate of every 13 months. It is projected that by 2020, it will double every 12 hours! Every day, over 5.4 billion Google searches are launched. This is 100 times greater than the year 2000. The number of text messages sent daily double the number of humans that occupy our planet. The shift of knowledge is happening at an exponential rate. And our educational system is trying hard to fill the gap. From 2000 to 2014 the enrollment in undergraduate studies rose by 31%. Computer science, business, and engineering topped the list of studies – all the careers suited to conquer this shift in the paradigm. Yet according to a recent Forbes article, there are 4 million job openings that remain unfilled. While college campuses are revamping their majors to answer the jobs of the present and future, there remains a disconnection. Higher education prepares students for the hard skills to perform the job, yet employers are seeking soft skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and proficiency in writing to complete the job. Coupled with that, employers may be missing that one in every five people own a smartphone which changes the criterion for how one communicates. According to a recent article on CareerBuilder, 86 percent of active candidates begin their job search on a mobile device, and 70 percent of those want to apply the same way. Not optimizing the node of communication for recruiters can potentially result in a loss of bright talent. Is there a lack of collaboration between businesses and educational institutions? If the two partnered to better define the starting and ending points and amalgamated ideals to create the road to success, what heights can we reach? For centuries we have put the ownership of career preparation on the educational system without including the desired outcome. Think of it this way – no one sets out to make a marinara sauce without an expectation that the tomatoes they buy are full of flavor.  Or, purchases a pallet of bricks without complex plans that defines the exact outcome of the house it will build. The misnomer of not teaching human capital skills at the secondary school level and beyond is fast becoming the lynchpin that is slowing corporate profits. The hard skill of education has been exemplar in the cornerstone of creating gender equality, reducing poverty, fostering peace, and creating a sustainable planet. Adding the soft skills of communication, leadership, influencing, creativity, and professionalism creates the new educational currency that maintains economic competitiveness and creates prosperity. Education and human capital are essentially inseparable in the definition of success – making a company’s human resource contribution the profit driving game-changer. In the workforce, sharing and collaborating is paramount to success. Yet in the educational system, discussion and partnering is deemed cheating. We have to recognize this oxymoron and make the changes that can and will foster success. Businesses that are willing to step into the community and offer reciprocity of soft skills for hard skills at the earliest working age are seeing that they can possibly close the educational gap.  It is recognized that the generation following millennials will shape the data that is projected to increase two fold daily.  While providing the opportunity to learn hard skills, in exchange these businesses are gaining insight to forthcoming trends allowing it to set its own course of exploration.  Incorporating things such as team projects, open discussion meetings and idea sharing teaches the much needed collaborative soft skills that benefit both the company and the individual. For those entering the work force, this soft skill offering creates the necessary upward mobility that turns today’s employees into tomorrow’s leaders. Have you implemented a training program that successfully bridged the educational gap? If so, we’d love to hear your ideas!

Partnership: Simple, But Not Easy

Tom Kahl
TomKahl
Chief Financial Officer
GEI Consultants
On the surface, partnership seems easy. We come to work to solve common problems and it’s more efficient to work together. In practice, things aren’t so straightforward. Are you doing all you can to be a good partner? As professional service providers, we’re not here to make people do things. We’re here to help them get work done. This takes collaboration. And, this means being a good partner. Tackling the obstacles to partnership is paramount to success today and in the future. Now is the time to break through the partnership resistance force fields. But, what are the obstacles to partnership? Bullies, Narcissists, and Cynics. These people are the number one reason partnership doesn’t work. (A Stanford professor wrote a book about this!) These are the individuals who are habitually self-serving and always steer discussions back to their own interests, needs, whims, and hang-ups. They are un-satisfiable, unchangeable, unpredictable, and constantly focused on other’s perceived shortcomings. They believe they are among a courageous minority that “tells the painful truth.” And, they are tolerated in surprising numbers because of a “magic” they have with clients or some other skill set with perceived value. Imagine what could happen if you removed all of the bullies from your firm: productive meetings, broadly supported solutions, and energy focused externally! This may seem like a fantasy, but if you concentrate on what you gain instead of what you lose, it’s entirely possible. Lack of Trust. A lot of issues with trust stem from the unknown. How easy is it to trust partners you work with remotely and cannot see? Do staff need to “earn” trust individually and incrementally? Is there a test? Who gets to make that decision? Do some staff simply declare lack of trust in others to opt out? You don’t need to build trust. A better approach? Assume trust. Then deal with the exceptions. Put the responsibility of trustworthiness on each other and focus management attention on the breaches of trust. If you don’t, you will be in an endless paradigm of questions. How can I be a good partner? It’s all well and good to say get rid of all the bullies, but what else can you do to make a difference? Treat your employees like internal clients. Adopt a problem-solving mindset, not a compliance mindset. Trust that staff are trying to do the right thing, as best they understand. Climb into the ring and spend time understanding what all parts of your business do. Make the “right way” to do things also the easy way to do things with regard to systems and processes. In professional services firms, the currency of the land is client relationships. And to be successful, it’s imperative that we are good business partners. It’s time to take away the excuses. What obstacles to partnership have you experienced at your firm? Tell us more in a comment below! Author’s note: This post is the second of two and is based off of my keynote presentation for the BST Global PowerUp 2016 Annual Users Conference.     

Are You a Good Partner?

Tom Kahl
TomKahl
Chief Financial Officer
GEI Consultants
In 1970, a decision maker would have said “I need an expert to tell me what to do.” Today, it’s “I need experts who understand my business, who I want to work with, and can get me a solution.” There has been a shift in the professional services business paradigm and because of it, being a good partner is more important than ever before. Technology has made it easier to learn and become informed. People are educated. Clients are educated. Service providers are educated. When looking to start a new project, we seek more than just hiring the team with the most impressive portfolio. It’s about finding the people who best fit what we want to do – it’s about finding good partners. Partnership is not a new concept. But, it is the key organizing principle of our time and it’s time your professional services firm takes notice. So, what is partnership exactly? Partnership happens when we: Work to seek common understanding Put common interests ahead of factional interests Do the “right thing” because we owe it to each other in service to our common interests It’s this third point–doing the right thing–that extends partnership from simply a good behavior to an organizing principle and ultimately into a cultural attribute of an organization. If everyone in an organization does things because they owe it to each and not because they have a stick at their back, it makes life easier. You just trust that people are trying to do the right thing and getting it done. Why is partnership an organizing principle? In short, differentiation. There was a time when professionals had a monopoly on knowledge, information, and skills. Now, you come into contact with people who are self-educated and have endless opportunities to learn from the Internet. People no longer seek firms out as an exclusive purveyor of knowledge. They are coming to you because they need collaborators and they need somebody who can help solve their problem. The value of work comes from getting to the optimal solution, which requires seeing the challenge from your partner’s perspective. In my grandparent’s age, the world with regards to professionals was driven by awe. Their world was one where they trusted implicitly. Ministers, teachers, doctors, lawyers – they knew what my grandparent’s didn’t know and they took them for their word, case closed. Even my parents are reluctant to ask questions of their doctors. Me? When I visit a doctor, I am asked what I think the problem is. We talk about it and then collaborate around a solution. I find that more productive and satisfying. This is the paradigm for all professional services now. Most professionals and clients want, as much as anything else, to work with good collaborators. And the ones who embrace this set themselves apart. Plus, partnership extends to everyone– clients, employees, and colleagues. As a firm, you seek to attract the right kind of employees and the right kind of clients to join your organization. With partnership set as an organizing principle you can expect your partners to do the right thing because it is embedded in the culture of the organization. And, that’s attractive to clients and recruits. I probably didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know, but I hope to have laid the framework for a guiding principle you can take back to your firm. Of course, implementing a culture of partnership has its challenges. In my next post, I’m going to explore obstacles to partnership and what you can actually do to be a good partner. Does your firm embrace collaboration and partnership already or do you have room to grow? Tell us more in a comment below! Author’s note: This post is the first of two and is based off of my keynote presentation for the BST Global PowerUp 2016 Annual Users Conference.   

The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with AJCE Secretary General Yoshi Yamashita

Yoshi Yamashita
YoshiYamashita
Secretary General
Association of Japanese Consulting Engineers (AJCE)
In an industry centered around innovation, the question always remains – what’s next?  To help answer this, we’ve launched a series of blog posts exploring the past, present, and future trends in architecture, engineering, and construction consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts. In this post we spoke to Yoshi Yamashita, Secretary General of the Association of Japanese Consulting Engineers (AJCE), headquartered in Japan. Yoshi is a trained civil engineer and works to enhance the status and competence of private Japanese consulting engineers through his work at AJCE. Q: What do you think is the most significant trend that will impact the future of the AEC industry in your region over the next 5 years? A:  Keeping the economic growth rate up--which is linked to budget on public works In Japan, the maintenance and renovation of social infrastructure from the past 50 years of development will be a significant project. Strengthening alliances and development through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). In Japan, there is a decreasing trend of young professional engineers’ participation in our industry, coupled with the aging of tenured engineers. Q: How do you see the current role of AEC firms shifting, what do you think is causing that shift, and how must AEC firms react to survive? A:  From domestic to global. The demand and capacity of the domestic market is limited, though the domestic market is safer and easier in terms of long term survival. This makes AEC firms act protectively and conservatively. It’s important to remember that escaping from challenges cannot guarantee success in international markets. While the domestic market is in good condition, AEC firms should invest in business development in the overseas market – human resources, tools and systems (and know-how), experience, and investment. To be successful, AEC firms need a specialist’s advice, alliance with overseas firms, development through M&A, etc. Q: Knowing what you know today, are there things you would or could have done differently to prepare for or react to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008? Are there things that you are doing differently now because of the GFC? How have you evolved your processes or policies post-GFC? A: This is a difficult question. We should train ourselves to distinguish if we are doing or going to do something beneficial to people, not for money. However, proper service remuneration is necessary to keep firms sustainable and to gain rewarding future opportunities for young engineers. Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association? A:  Consolidation with related associations to better represent our industry to the client and to society. This will also create business opportunities. Education and capacity building of young professionals who can compete in the international market. Involvement in political decision making processes--this is a very tough challenge. Q: How has your office environment changed, and how is your firm continuing to evolve your workplace environment, procedures, and technologies, to accommodate the evolving demands of the incoming millennial workforce? What considerations and changes are you making regarding collaboration, efficiencies, work/life balance, technologies, etc.? A:  The effort of our association (AJCE) is to promote the opportunity of capacity building for young professionals and business development of member firms through an exchange program with overseas FIDIC Member Associations. FIDIC tools and trainings are used to facilitate challenges. Business development or deployment in domestic and international markets are basically in the hands of each firm. CEO’s policy and strategy are key to success. Association’s support on this matter is limited. To become a stakeholder is one of the most important objectives in future. Government has been leading and controlling the infrastructure market in Japan. To get out of this difficulty, we must expand our business overseas and increase competence of professionals. How? Education in school and firms (English proficiency, international way of thinking, more exchange with foreign people, business debates, risk awareness, integrity, etc.), alliance with FIDIC Member Associations, training of young professionals in foreign firms or through overseas projects, successful mergers and acquisitions (M&A), etc. Above all, motivation, seriousness, middle-long term strategy, and a financial perspective from CEOs are deemed to be the most essential factor. Author’s note: These answers are my personal opinion, and thus do not represent the opinions of AJCE. This post is part of a question and answer series with global industry leaders on the future of the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industries.

The Future of Architecture and Engineering: A Q&A with STD-företagen Managing Director Magnus Höij

Magnus Höij
MagnusHöij
Managing Director
Swedish Federation of Consulting Engineers and Architects
In an industry centered around innovation, the question always remains – what’s next?  To help answer this, we’ve launched a series of blog posts exploring the past, present, and future trends in architecture, engineering, and construction consultancies. Over the next few months, follow along with us as industry leaders share their thoughts. In this post we spoke to Magnus Höij, Managing Director of the Swedish Federation of Consulting Engineers and Architects (STD-företagen) headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Magnus joined the Swedish Federation of Consulting Engineers and Architects in 2014. He was previously editor-in-chief for several publications, including Computer Sweden and Internet World, covering topics on IT and online services. He has great interest in the technology, marketing, organization, and personal skills needed to make a successful business and has penned several books on IT and business. Q: What do you think is the most significant trend that will impact the future of the AEC industry in your region over the next 5 years? A: Globalization and digitalization will probably be two the trends that we will talk a lot about and that will have big impact for our industry. The processes and legal frameworks will be increasingly global, which will lead to a global market for expertise and knowledge. Digitalization will not only help us work more efficiently, we will be able to construct new things and we will be able to participate in the dialogue with customers and other constructors in the building process even more than today. Q: How do you see the current role of AEC firms shifting, what do you think is causing that shift, and how must AEC firms react to survive? A: The need for innovation in the world of construction and infrastructure is huge. As companies, we need to meet this need with a higher degree of new and provocative ideas, based on our deep understanding of the technological framework. But we also need to bring in new perspectives from not only engineers, but also architects, behavioral scientists, statisticians, political analysts, etc. in order to tie these trends and insights together. Q: Knowing what you know today, are there things you would or could have done differently to prepare for or react to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008? Are there things that you are doing differently now because of the GFC? How have you evolved your processes or policies post-GFC? A: I wasn’t in this industry at that time. However, I think that our industry is working with issues that could in many ways be needed to avoid this kind of crisis. A good infrastructure is a foundation of a modern society. Without it, the society is more vulnerable. Our ability to tell that story to politicians and decision makers will also determine how well we will manage the next financial crisis. Q: What is the biggest challenge you are currently tackling within your firm or association? A: Our ability to adopt to the rapid changes in the marketplace. Our companies are quickly becoming both more global, crossing borders to other industries and facing challenges from totally new players in the market. As an organization, we need to keep up with these changes, understand the new landscape, and try to lead the way for the industry in to the future, not be dragged there. Q: How has your office environment changed, and how is your firm continuing to evolve your workplace environment, procedures, and technologies, to accommodate the evolving demands of the incoming millennial workforce? What considerations and changes are you making regarding collaboration, efficiencies, work/life balance, technologies, etc.? A: The most important part of taking care of younger staff is about leadership. We must make sure that each and everyone can find his or her best way to contribute. Teamwork is so important in the modern work life. That could, in part, be done by adding new tools, hardware, physical planning of the office, work hours, etc. But everyone is unique in so many ways, that each leader must be able to adapt to each situation. Investing in leadership skills is priority 1, 2, and 3. This post is part of a question and answer series with global industry leaders on the future of the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industries.