Challenges of Professional Development in the A/E Industry

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff November 15, 2006

At the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) 2006 annual conference in Boston on July 6-8, 2006, Mick Morrissey, principal Morrissey Goodale LLC, along with Mark Brewer, PBS&J University Director, delivered a presentation addressing the Challenges of Professional Development in the Architecture/Engineering Industry. The presenters discussed current best practices in developing people as the most critical strategic business investment, including establishing a Corporate University, developing leadership, succession planning and recruiting/retention strategies.

Morrissey asserted that the combination of a resurgent economy and lack of the “right” talent makes internal development and training of staff a priority for every growing engineering firm. “This industry spends less than one percent of revenues on training and development—that’s insane!We need to change that statistic by over-investing in our existing staff. In an environment where it’s going to be harder and harder to find talent, we need to play to our strengths and empower the folks we have on board right now,” he said.

In their presentation, Morrissey and Brewer made the case that professional development is part of a business critical strategy and demonstrated the value of creating a “corporate university” responsible for optimizing and rationalizing the company’s investment in people development, using the PBS&J University as an example.

The corporate university model incorporates oversight of all people development activities and initiatives (not just training) and is aligned with strategic business objectives. The two presenters advised their audience on ways the corporate university operates, including involving senior leadership, developing supervisory competency, investing money wisely and holding supervisors and employees accountable.

“If you have defined and can articulate your desired outcomes, it’s easy to know where to invest”, said Brewer. The presenters urged engineering firms to be open to change and attentive to developing their people and concluded that commitment to ongoing, optimized professional development is the engine of continuous growth and success.

For more information, go to the Morrissey Goodale LLC website at: