Author Archive

Civil Engineers: It’s Time to Get Organized from A to Z

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

I read a book not too long ago entitled Getting Things Done by David Allan.  The book provides strategies and an overall process for getting organized and becoming more productive.  One strategy that I’ve been able to take from this book and not only use myself, but also help engineers to implement through coaching is David’s A to Z filing system.

It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day.  Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office.  Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we’ll take a whole day and clean out our office which usually consists of throwing most of these items out.  Does this sound familiar?

David’s A to Z system is a great process that will help you to get and STAY organized.  Here is how it works.  Start by designating one large filing drawer or an entire filing cabinet for you’re A to Z system.  Fill the cabinet with 26 hanging folders and label them A through Z.  Next, start making a list of all of the items that you might file away (i.e. example, specifications, estimates, manufacturers information, stormwater guidelines, etc.).  Then create a file folder for each one of these items and be sure to label them clearly.  Then the fun part begins.  Starting with your desk begin to file away items into the proper folders.  You may have to create new folders along the way or slightly modify the system over the first few weeks.  For example, you might have to decide on whether you want to use the word ‘drainage’ or ‘stormwater’ which will determine whether that folder ends up in ‘D’ or ‘S.’

After a few weeks of implementing this system, your office will be clean!  Then you just have to work on keeping it clean, which is pretty easy with this system.  As items come across your desk simply file them into the proper folder or create a new one, when necessary.

You may think that this system is extremely simplistic and actually it is.  I have successfully implemented this system both in my office and in my home and I never have a problem finding something.  I hope this tip is helpful for you can bring more balance to both your career and your life.

Please share any organizational strategies that you are currently using!

August 23, 2011 at 11:08 am 14 comments

Project/Team Communication: Make Every Word Count

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career (Available in May 2011)
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

Engineer Your Own Success, by Anthony Fasano, PE

This post is an excerpt from Anthony Fasano’s new book Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career.  Anthony is a design engineer turned executive coach, speaker and author and now spends his time helping engineers around the world to create careers that are exciting, enjoyable, and rewarding while being well-balanced. In this post Anthony provides strategies for effective project communication in today’s fast-paced world.

In some respects, technology has made it more of a challenge to communicate with your colleagues or at least keep the communication consistent. By colleagues I am referring to your co-workers as well as other consultants that you may work with on a project team.

The key to communicating in today’s world is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Whether you decide to use the phone, email, or any other type of web application is not the most relevant factor. It’s important that you keep everybody up-to-date on what’s going on with the project, as failure to do so can negatively impact its success, the cohesiveness of your team, and most importantly your relationship with your clients. For example, how do you think one of your clients would feel if you called them asking the same question that another team member had just emailed them about 30 minutes earlier? Your client is going to feel like their time is being wasted and he or she is going to see first hand that your team is not coordinated, both of which may jeopardize your relationship with the client as well as their impression of you and your employer.

To avoid this type of communication mix-up, you must have some kind of system in place that makes it easy to keep everyone up-to-date in real time. Perhaps set up a company policy in which one team member is designated to handle all e-mail correspondence with the client. Another option may be to have a project specific website or e-mail account where everyone can see exactly what’s going on, again in real time. Having a good system in place could mean the difference between completing a so-so project or a great one.

In conclusion, be sure that when you work with a team, you establish clear communication guidelines as early as possible on the project. Communication (especially on a team) is crucial because the lack thereof will lead to conflict, which can affect the quality of their work and really put a damper not only on the project but your career as a whole. When people don’t communicate with each other, they start to make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or what actions they are going to take. These assumptions can lead to decisions that negatively impact the team, the project, and the company as a whole.

Order your copy of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career within the next 24 hours and receive two incredible bonus gifts (FREE). Go to http://EngineerSuccessToday.com. A portion of each book sold will be donated to Engineers Without Borders.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 19, 2011 at 9:31 am 6 comments

The NCAA Tourney Shows Why Bigger isn’t Always Better in Your Career

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career (Available in May 2011)
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

The men’s college basketball’s annual tournament (March Madness) recently finished with the University of Connecticut coming out on top.  For those of you not familiar with the tournament, it starts with 64 teams (68 now with the play-ins) and over a few weeks, 6 rounds and 59 games later there is one team left standing.  What makes the tournament so special is that every team in it has a chance to win it; even the underdogs, often referred to as ‘mid-majors’ have the chance to make a run every year.

This year two of the mid-majors did just that.  Butler and Virginia Commonwealth made it all the way to the final four and Butler to the finals amazingly for the second year in the row.  During and immediately following the tournament there was a lot of talk about how the coaches of these two teams could pretty much write their own ticket to a ‘bigger’ college basketball school, which would be a step up in their career that would give them more money, more publicity and a better shot to win the tournament on a yearly basis.

While nothing has happened yet, it appears that both coaches are going to stay where there are.  Yes that’s right, they are going stay with the their mid-major school.  Are they crazy?  That’s what many people are asking.  Why would you turn down the opportunity to take a position at a bigger, better, more prestigious school (or company)?

Of course I can’t speak for either of these coaches, but here’s my take on the situation.  We often hear people say that another civil engineering position is bigger, better, higher-paid, a better opportunity, however it doesn’t matter what people say, it only matters what the individual offered the position thinks.  These coaches may consider their current jobs, their dream jobs.  They are settled in the community with their family and they have no desire to move.  They actually like the organization they work for and want to stay where they are.  After all, if they took their mid-major school to the finals once (even twice) why can’t they do it again?

There is a huge parallel here for corporate professionals in the civil engineering community as we are often faced with similar positions.  Do we take a higher paying job with that has an additional 30 minutes of commuting time each day?  Do we sell our small company to a larger one?  These questions can only be answered by the individual receiving the offer based on their goals and with the support and guidance of their loved ones.  I just wanted to offer some food for thought in saying that bigger isn’t always better in your career!

Please offer your thoughts on this issue and if you were ever faced with a similar decision please share with us if you are comfortable doing so.

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

April 21, 2011 at 10:00 am 2 comments

3 Sure-Fire Ways to Stonewall Your Career Development

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

Let me start this post by saying, Happy New Year to the Civil Engineering Central community.  I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful New Year!  Success being whatever you define it to be, since it is different for everyone.

I’d like to share with you 3 ways that I have seen civil engineers impede their career advancement in hopes that you can avoid the same mistakes.

1.    Not saying “Thank You.” It should be obvious to say “Thank You” to your co-workers when they help you out.  Whether it’s a supervisor that took the time to mentor you or an administrative assistant who typed up a report or proposal for you, it’s very important to thank them.  Failure to express your gratitude can really impede your advancement because people won’t want to help you if they don’t feel appreciated.

2.    Failure to Develop Your Communication Skills. Odds are there will come a time in your career when you will have to put down the calculator and communicate with your co-workers, clients and even prospective clients (yes business development).  The sooner you acknowledge this and start to improve your communication skills, the better.  There are plenty of courses, clubs and books that can help you do this like Toastmasters and the Dale Carnegie courses.  These developmental programs will not only improve your communication, but also increase your confidence.  By doing this in your career, the earlier the better, you can skip a few steps on the corporate ladder and advance quicker than most civil engineers.

3.    Place Self-Created Limitations on Yourself. This is one of the easiest and most common ways to impede your career development and people do it every day.  We put limitations on where we can take our career for many different reasons.  For example, a young engineer might have listened to a friend who told him or her that there is no money in the engineering field, therefore he or she reduces their salary goal accordingly.  An unemployed civil engineer may give up looking for a job because they let the economy be an excuse or limitation.  These are only a few examples but this happens everyday in the corporate world and it is very disheartening.  I urge you to believe in yourself and always know that you can create the future that you desire.

I hope these points are helpful.  Please feel free to share your experiences or provide any other career development impediments that you have seen or experienced. Thanks!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm Leave a comment

Do You Have an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Career?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

Unfortunately, the economy today has many civil engineering professionals down in the dumps for one reason or another.  Some professionals are unemployed, others took a job that they don’t enjoy because they were unemployed and others took pay cuts to keep their current job.

Amongst all of the doom and the gloom, a new year is upon us and it is meant to be a time of joy and happiness, if you embrace it.  The best thing you can do to uplift your spirits is to develop an attitude for gratitude and be thankful for EVERYTHING you have both personally and professionally.  While the recent holiday season may be a good reminder to be thankful for the things we have, an attitude of gratitude should be something that you maintain throughout the entire year.

Being thankful helps you to realize all of the things you have and helps you to forget or minimize all of the things you don’t have.  When I say “things” you have, I mean people, experiences, groups, clubs, mentors, etc.

Here are some things to think about in developing an attitude for gratitude:

1.  While there will always be people that you work with whom you don’t get along, be thankful for all of the lessons that you have learned from these people that will help you to grow as a civil engineering professional.

2.  If you are unemployed, be thankful that you now have the opportunity to start fresh in your career and pursue a job that will be more rewarding and enjoyable than your last one.

3.  If you recently received a pay cut or will not be receiving a holiday bonus this year, be thankful for the fact that you have a job that allows you to provide for your family in this unstable economy.

4.  If you constantly measure your career on the salary and the position that you DON’T HAVE, start being thankful for the salary and the position that you DO HAVE and make the best out of it.  This is not saying you should settle for what you have, but be thankful for what you have accomplished thus far.

5.  If your job requires you to work long hours, be thankful for the time you do get to spend with your family.

I hear so many people complaining about the economy and I understand their frustration, but the holidays and the new year are supposed to be  joyous times, so my message to you is to draw on the people, places and experiences that you have in your life TODAY and ENJOY them!

Please share with us some of the things you are thankful for in your career this year!

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 4, 2011 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

Engineers: Do You Dance all Day Long?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

The word “dancing” in the title of this post doesn’t refer to the swing or the tango, although that certainly would make for an interesting workday.  By dancing, I mean do you find yourself going back and forth from one task to the next all day long?

Does the following sequence of events sound familiar?

– You get into work and log into your computer.

– You open up your e-mail and weed through the 15 e-mails that came in overnight.  You respond to some, forward others and delete spam e-mails.

– Then you notice that you have a voicemail, so you check your voicemail, write it down on a sticky note, but don’t call the person back yet.

– While checking your voicemail, two more e-mails came in, so you go back to e-mail for another 20 minutes, recycling through some of your e-mails from yesterday.

– Finally around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. you start actually working.  You open up a report that you have been working on.  As soon as you open it up a co-worker comes into your room, spends 10 minutes talking about the baseball game last night, another 10 minutes complaining about a new company policy and then you spend 10 minutes explaining the challenges associated with the current report that you are working on (or trying to work on).

– After your co-worker leaves, in between phone calls you get about an hour of work done before lunch, and then the whole process starts again!

Does this sound familiar?  Now do you see what I mean by dancing at work?  How many nights do you end up in the office until 6 or 7 p.m. wondering where the time went?

I challenge you to start working smarter!  Working smarter will allow you to get more done in less time and even get to spend some more time at home.  I have read several books on this topic including, “The One Minute Manager,” “Getting Things Done,” “Work Less and Earn More,” and “The Four Hour Work Week.”
Based on my own experience as well as information from these books, here are some recommendations for working smarter:

– DO NOT check e-mail first thing in the morning, pick a time later in the morning to check your e-mail.  If possible try to check e-mail two or three times a day at set times (i.e. 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5p.m.).

– At the end of the day, clean up your workspace and prepare yourself so that you know what you are going to do first the following morning (since you won’t be checking e-mail anymore).

– When possible set your meetings early or late in the day so you don’t eat up the middle of the day.

– Close your door (and disable your phone line) once in while to eliminate distractions and boost productivity.  You can literally close your door for one hour a day and get more done in that hour than you will the whole afternoon with the door open.  That wasn’t exactly what they meant when they said “power hour” in college, but it works!

Everyone is busy, and many times we have to answer clients calls on active projects and deal with problems in the moment, but adopting some of these behaviors should help you do less “dancing” and more focusing on one task at a time.

Please share some tips and recommendations of how to work smarter based on your experience.

September 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm 8 comments

Engineers: Are We Too Technical to Manage?

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Founder & CEO, Powerful Purpose Associates – New Website!
Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
Click to Connect With Anthony on Linkedin and Facebook
Anthony is the author of a FREE service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner.  Click here to read about this service.

Being a licensed engineer as well as a career development coach, I get the opportunity to coach many engineers in a one-on-one setting from entry level to high level executives.  Being able to wear both hats (engineer and coach), helps me tremendously in assisting engineers in both their career advancement efforts as well as developing their leadership abilities.  One of the most prominent challenges that I have found with engineers is their lack of managerial skills due to their technical backgrounds.

This isn’t the case for all engineers.  Some engineers prefer the managerial route to the technical, but in my experience those engineers are in the minority.  This issue is prevalent across the industry and impacts many organizations more than they realize.  Why?  Think about it.  Highly technical professionals managing large project teams with tight budgets and time deadlines.  To manage, and better yet lead, these types of project teams, certain skills are necessary including delegation, communication and the ability to gain respect from your team.  Many of us engineers, may very well have these skills, but they are buried beneath layers of analytical, problem solving, test taking, equation deriving exercises leaving us with a long windy road to navigate to become a good leader.

If you find yourself on this long and windy road, here are some recommendations to help guide you to the promised land:

  • Read and/or listen to books that will help you improve your people skills
  • Join a group or take a course on public speaking which will help you improve both your confidence and communication skills
  • Work really hard to start delegating (start by giving out small tasks at first to give people the opportunity to earn your trust)
  • Seek out a mentor that has already conquered the designer to manager transition and ask them to help you along
  • Try to slow your mind down whenever you can (i.e. take a walk outside at lunch, brain relaxing activities in the evening – working out, etc.)
  • Work with an executive coach regularly on overcoming this challenge

I hope some of these tips will help you in your transition, as I know how difficult it can be.  Just know that we are all leaders, it’s just a matter of developing those skills that we have buried beneath our technical layers.  It’s not as hard as you think once you get going!

I did refer to being a manager as the promise land earlier, but that’s only true if you want it to be.  If you’re happy going the technical route, good for you, keep going.  Managing isn’t for everyone; you have to follow your passion!

What are some things that you have done in your career to help transition from designer to manager?

August 18, 2010 at 9:24 am 10 comments

Older Posts


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

What’s Tweetin’…

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Archives

Feeds