Are You The Smartest Civil Engineer In The Room?

February 8, 2016 at 9:46 am 2 comments

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Are you the smartest civil engineer in the room?  If you answered “yes,” might it be time for you to explore a new opportunity?

I am not sure where the quote originated from, but it has often been said:

Smartest Person in the room

Last year I published a blog about about firms who are stuck in their old ways, and no matter how successful those “ways” worked for them in the past, should civil engineering firms not have the ability to evolve as a company, they will be left in dust.  This same concept certainly applies to the individual civil engineer as well.

No one is perfect, I suspect we can agree on that.  There is always room for improvement, and unless you surround yourself with people who are more talented than you, if not overall, at least in specific areas, your career will remain static.  Often times I hear from civil engineers that they have “topped out” or hit the proverbial “glass ceiling.”  Because of certain situations they very well may have advanced as far as they can with their current organization, but figuratively speaking that may also be their way of feeling as they are the smartest person in the room.  Surrounding yourself with those whose intelligence surpasses your own can allow for the following:

  • Learning of new engineering concepts
  • Learning of new management, financial, and business operational techniques
  • Learning of how technology is changing the way business is done
  • Exposure to new opportunities and activities outside of the workplace
  • Challenging of authority and learning as a result
  • The ability to compete more vigorously


Once you surround yourself with more talented people, you will witness the domino effect take place, as more doors will open and more opportunities will present themselves, which can lead to professional and personal development.

So every once in a while, be sure to take a step back and observe your surroundings…are you the smartest person in the room?

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Matt Barcus
President :: Precision Executive Search, Inc.
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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bobgately  |  February 8, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Matt, the smartest civil engineer in the room has the advantage when doing civil engineering. Managers need not need not be the smartest civil engineer but they do need to fit their position, most do not.

    • 2. aepcentral  |  February 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Bob, thanks for sharing, and I do concur. “Smart” does not only apply to the technical side of things either…could be street smart, could be smart in other areas. If a technical civil engineer is the “smartest in the room” he needs to surround himself with other folks that will challenge him from a technical standpoint. If someone is on the management track, he needs to surround himself with peers who have achieved greater success than himself specific to the area he is looking to “make his mark.”


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