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Session Descriptions

What it Means to Be a Principal

What does it take to become a principal in an A/E firm, and what does it take to excel in this role? You may have the skills to succeed as a technical professional, but being a principal is a whole new ball game. Learn from an expert—Mark C. Zweig—who has been there as a principal in two ENR top-500 firms and as a consultant to hundreds if not thousands of other A/E and environmental firms what management skills are critical for principals to have. This presentation will start with a basic understanding of what others in the firm most likely expect from a principal, review some facts and statistics on "principalship" for our industry, and finish up with some strong "how-tos" on how you can become a more effective leader in your A/E firm.

Business Planning

Most business plans include: vision; mission; strategies; goals, and actions. A good business plan is one that provides a common sense of direction, informs investors, helps guide your future, and reduces the stress of owning and operating a business. In fact, you need two business plans, a strategic plan that encompasses long-term goals and aspirations, and an operational plan that details exactly how you will accomplish those goals. In this presentation, Mark Zweig will outline how to develop a business plan that will help your firm succeed, will describe ways to ensure buy-in for the plan, and will outline mistakes to avoid.

Marketing and Business Development

Do you know the difference between marketing and business development and how these functions need to operate to achieve your business and revenue goals? Most clients make choices based not on technical strength, geographic location, or price - but on relationships and trust. For many A/E firms, the bulk of new business comes from existing customers. In addition to a review of some facts and statistics on marketing for our industry, in this session you will learn how to strengthen and improve relationships with clients and contacts, and discover enhanced business opportunities for the firm.

Financial Management

As a principal, it is imperative that you understand your firm’s financial statements and are able to evaluate its performance. Using an interactive case study format, learn how to read and interpret an income statement and balance sheet, how to use financial ratios to evaluate performance, and how to benchmark against industry norms.

  • Understanding your firm's financial statements
  • Key performance metrics and what they mean
  • Benchmarking your firm's performance against the industry
  • Cash flow management and forecasting
  • Ways of improving cash flow

Ownership Transition

Ownership succession planning is one of the biggest challenges that a privately-held A/E firm will face. Balancing the needs and constraints of the company as well as the buying and selling shareholders is no small feat and, at some point, nearly every firm principal will become involved in these efforts. This session will cover the fundamentals of ownership succession planning, including business valuation as well as what to consider and avoid in building, managing, or participating in an ownership program. Specific points covered include:

  • How is a firm's value determined and what are the biggest levers that drive value up or down?
  • How is ownership managed in a privately-held firm?
  • What are the options available to perpetuate a growing and sustainable organization?
  • What does it really mean to be a firm owner?
  • What key concepts do shareholders need to understand?
  • What are the pitfalls and hazards to avoid in ownership planning?

Human Resources Management

Finding and keeping exceptional performers are among the top challenges facing A/E firms today. And no matter what state the economy is in, it’s essential to develop your teams and provide ongoing recognition of their hard work. With three generations in the workplace, this is an even larger challenge than most firms expected. This session will provide a benchmark understanding of recruiting techniques, professional development programs, and best practices for handling generational perspectives.

  • Why hiring and keeping good people is so hard
  • Applying solid marketing principals for better recruitment results
  • Providing meaningful reward programs that work
  • Leveraging the talents and views of all three generations
  • Creating a “best workplace” environment

Project Management

Everyone talks about the importance of good project management. In our business, how projects are managed is fundamental to a firm’s success or failure. As a principal, you need to know exactly what you can do to improve project management in your firm. In this session, you’ll learn what common mistakes to avoid, review some facts and statistics on project management for our industry, and finish up with some strong “how-to” on how you can become a more effective project management leader in your firm.

Case Study Workshop

The Principals Academy 2.0 program culminates in a session that will incorporate the information and lessons learned from the previous presentations. Participants will be divided into small groups to examine and solve real “A/E world” management issues in a supervised workshop environment. Each group will be given a case study drawn from actual A/E firm situations, and will spend time diagnosing the problems and creating an action plan to correct them. Once done each group will present their analysis and final recommendations to an audience of all the attendees for comment and review.

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