ACEC 2017 Annual Conference

Concurrent Educational Sessions


Monday, May 6


Engineering in a Future World

Moderator: Markus Weidner, Pennoni; Gerald Buckwalter, Northrop Grumman

Our world is experiencing extraordinary change as a result of the rapid evolution of technologies, changes to the environment, as well as major societal shifts. All of these present challenges and opportunities to which we as an industry must respond. In order to continue serving the good of the public, we need to understand that our future will increasingly be driven by systems design and integration of smart, agile, responsive solutions. Join us for a conversation where we will talk about the research done to date, some example scenarios of future worlds, and the best way for us to respond without becoming overwhelmed with the sheer volume of change.

Session Sponsored by BST Global


Women in Advocacy

Moderator: Gayle Roberts, Roberts Management Consulting; Katharine Mottley, ACEC; Abbie Goodman, ACEC/Massachusetts; Vivian Moeglein, Office of Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR); Cathy Connor, WSP USA

Advocacy and political engagement are cornerstones of ACEC’s mission to promote and protect the business interests of engineering firms. Fostering diversity strengthens our ability to be successful. Panelists will discuss the importance of political involvement and provide advice and encouragement in overcoming barriers at both the state and federal level. 


Managing the Legal and Practice Issues of BIM

Andrew Mendelson, Berkley Design Professional

Explore the benefits of implementing BIM, the practice implications of migrating from CAD to BIM, and the investments required in tools and technology, quality management standards, and processes and protocols. Participants will gain important information about the legal and practice implications of using BIM and how to protect firms from professional liability risk.


Federal Market Opportunities: Behind the Scenes of a SF330 Selection Panel

Renee Pilone, GSA; Scott Wick, USACE; David Wolfel, NAVFAC

Gain insights from SF 330 Selection Panelists. Hear from your federal clients about what they look for in a winning submission and learn effective ways to improve your chances to win more federal business. 


Sustainability Throughout the ESOP Lifecyle

Ryan Graham and Tina DiCroce, Chartwell Financial Advisory

From inception to mid-life to maturity, ESOP companies should be thinking about sustainability. Discuss the various stages of an ESOP's lifecycle and the techniques that can be employed at each stage to help achieve a sustainable ESOP.

Session Sponsored by Chartwell Financial Advisory


11:45 am-1pm   

Succession Planning: Rewarding Senior Owners & Opportunities for Younger Employees

Chris Dionot, Planning Solutions Group

Focused on successful business succession planning, this session discusses the complex transition strategies that help senior owners keep control while passing ownership and growth opportunities to the next generation.


Painting a Resource Management Masterpiece: A Guide for AEC Firms

John Mathew, BST Global

Resource management is an essential element of how every AEC firm delivers professional services. Discuss the ideal picture of what resource management looks like so you can create a resource management masterpiece for your own AEC firm.

Session Sponsored by BST Global


“How do we Engage Asia?” The Outlook for Opportunities in the Indo-Pacific Region

Representatives from the Departments of State, Commerce, USTDA and the Export-Import Bank

Get a front row seat to hear the administration’s priorities for opening up Asia and creating new opportunities for American firms.


Understanding the New Market of Opportunity Zones

Referred to as “the biggest tax cut you’ve never heard of” by The Economist, the Opportunity Zone incentive was created as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Learn how to identify Opportunity Zones in your area; key information you’ll need as you talk to your developer clients, as well as state, local and economic development officials; and what developers and owners pursuing Opportunity Zone projects look for when reviewing engineering consultants.


Compensation Best Practices

Matt Keene, Chartwell Financial Advisory; Bob Grossman, Polsinelli

Discuss best practices in compensation governance and design, and quickly pivot to recent case studies where firms sought to align their compensation and ownership philosophies to create a sustainable organization.

Session Sponsored by Chartwell Financial Advisory



Innovation - What is IT Taking Under Their Wing?

Moderator: Andy Knauf, Mead & Hunt; Markus Weidner, Pennoni

Most firms focus on building more efficient and integrated information technology systems without thinking about the challenges that come with implmentation.  Explore the best practices for creating strong firm innovation programs -- including development steps, obstacles with integration, and how to grow innovation programs even as technology rapidly evolves.

Session Sponsored by Newforma


Best Practices in Recruiting & Retaining Professional Field Staff 

Moderator: Barbara Irwin, HR Advisors Group; Jen Kessler, Davis Construction; Erin Davies, Haley Aldrich; Dave Francis, Dewberry

Hiring talent continues to be one of the most challenging initiatives for the A/E industry today. Once you hire, the mission changes to keeping the employees engaged, productive and satisfied.  


Disaster Mitigation: Resilience Planning and Investment

Moderator: Ileana Ivanciu, Dewberry; Kayed Lakhia, FEMA, Edward Belk, USACE; Kevin Bush, Washington DC CRO; Tom Lewis, Louis Berger; Jerry Sparks, Dewberry

Examine the changing relationships of federal/state/local governments as they address planning and investment in delivery of water supply/treatment and electric utility services in expectation of natural disasters (e.g., hurricane surges, floods, earthquakes, wildfires). 


Developing Superstar Employees

June Jewell, AEC Business Solutions

Learn what it takes to lead your employees to high performance and superstar status. Take away ideas on how to set your team up for success and transform their mindset and daily behaviors to ensure business success and high profits.


The Benefit of Non-Industry Leadership

Joe Skorczewski, Chartwell Financial Advisory; Steve Lane, Smith, Seckman, Reid; Hoss Tabrizi, Ulteig

A noticeable trend in the AE industry is the recent inclusion of non-engineers in prominent leadership and management positions in our firms. With the help of three companies embracing this trend, we will explore how this trend could be beneficial to growing, diversifying, and reducing risk in your firm.

Session Sponsored by Chartwell Financial Advisory



2:45pm-5:45pm - NAECE Educational Session

The NAECE Hustle: Top Strategies for MO Operations and Association Growth

JP Moery, The Moery Company



Climate Change and Resilient Design: Risk Management Considerations for Engineers

Patricia Gary, Donovan Hatem; Lisa Dickson, Arup; Samantha Medlock, Willis Towers Watson

The uncertainty surrounding future climate impacts is heightened by a regulatory environment in which emerging risks are not addressed by current design and construction codes. This exposes engineers to potential claims arising out of extreme or catastrophic weather events. Understand the professional responsibilities associated with the phenomenon of and risks associated with climate change, and effective contractual, risk management and insurance approaches.


Getting It Done! Keys to Implementing Your Firm’s Strategic Plan

Raymond Kogan, Kogan & Company

Learn and share experiences to convert strategic plans into action including: implementation best practices; the leader’s role and responsibilities; prioritization within the strategic plan, as well as identification of what your firm can and cannot afford not to do.


Tackling Data and Process Inefficiencies for Increased Cash Flow and Profitability

Bob Tuttle, Agile Frameworks; Todd Williams, Dillon Kane Group; Matt Balster, Braun Intertec

Data generated in field are often spread across PDFs, spreadsheets, and paper documents creating costly inefficiencies. Case studies focus on two large, multi-disciplinary firms for discussion about the ways to identify and measure the inefficiencies and create a plan for overall improvement.

Session Sponsored by Agile Frameworks


Alternative Ownership Structures

Tim Cleary and Chris Staloch, Chartwell Financial Advisory; David Sweeney, RS&H

Balancing compensation with the capitalization and cashflow needs of an organization is a critical factor in achieving a firm's long-term objectives.  To that end, sustainability of ownership models has become an important focal point for many firms as they consider the next stage in the life cycle of their businesses.  While there is no one right answer, we will explore some of the various ways companies are thinking about these topics and introduce the latest ideas around ownership models.

Session Sponsored by Chartwell Financial Advisory 


Tuesday, May 7

9:00 am-10:00 am

CIO Roundtable: What are the Disruptors?

Information technology is gnerating some of the biggest disruptors in the engineering industry. Successful firms will adapt to these changes. Join industry experts as they discuss the newest innovation disruptors - such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and additive construction- and how firms can begin to embrace these new technologies and use them as opportunities to build a competitive advantage.



CIO Perspectives on a Successful M&A

Moderator: Jim Lofft, KCI; Steve Ross, exp US Services, Inc; Jim Dray, Thornton Tomasetti.

As firms go through multiple mergers and acquisitions, IT plays a major role in onboarding new talent and technology, while maintaining the firm’s existing systems.  This session will present best practices for providing ideal interconnectedness while exploring how IT systems make it easier for firms to adapt and prepare for M&A in the future.

Session Sponsored by BST Global


The Future of Transportation

Kenneth Leonard, U.S. Department of Transportation

Technology and innovation are transforming our transportation system at lightning speed. Connectivity, automation, and artificial intelligence are just a few of the technologies overwhelming our collective mobility for the better – and they offer tremendous opportunities for those engineering firms that are ready to engage in the future of American transportation.


Stop Eating Your Leaders! Get Going, Do What Works, and Ignite the Next Generation in Your Firm

John Doehring, J. Doehring & Co.

The accelerating pace of business, hyper-competitiveness of markets, and growing uncertainty of the Fast Future ahead demand that firms of tomorrow be captained by talented, innovative, and doing-oriented leaders. Identify and solve common mistakes with a proven, seven-step process for defining, implementing, and executing a best-in-class leadership development program in your company.


Capital Reserve Planning for AE Companies

Tim Cleary, Chartwell Financial Advisory; Bob Dietz, AB Bernstein

Ownership transition is a primary threat to the long-term sustainability of an AE company. Establishing an approach to mitigate this risk and maintain a capital reserve takes a commitment to understanding various funding strategies and the financial discipline ensure its success.  This session will equip attendees with the processes and tools needed to implement and maintain the optimum capital structure with guidance from a world leader in corporate investment advisory services.

Session Sponsored by Chartwell Finacial Advisory



Supporting Stronger Leadership Today while Developing Leaders for Tomorrow

James Bishop, JBC; Gayle Roberts, Roberts Management Consulting; Rajan Sheth, Mead & Hunt

Senior leaders often enter management by leveraging success as “technicians” and then, with enough time, growing their skills and expertise with larger and more complex responsibilities. Executive coaching can be an effective tool to help a leader successfully evolve.  Explore lessons learned from a century of diverse leadership experiences drawn from highly successful consulting engineering firms.


Recession-Proof Your Firm

Chuck Roberts, Performance Management Group

This forward-looking presentation reveals nine actions you need to take now to recession-proof your firm.  Enhance your status as a proactive leader, help your firm grow the top and bottom lines regardless of the economy, provide greater job security for your employees, and create the stability and resilience your firm needs to weather the next economic storm.


We're Under Cyber Attack... Now What?!?

Jill Tellez, Victor O. Schinnerer & Co., Inc.; Dan Larson, American Engineering Testing, Inc.; Chuck Craycraft, H.W. Lochner, Inc.; Jeff Boogay, Mullen Coughlin LLC

With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks on large and small businesses, especially ransomware attacks, design and construction firms can no longer assume they’re immune from this mounting problem. Learn how firms can assess and quantify their cyber risk, best practices for mitigating/managing cyber risk, and options that reduce the risk.    



Why Your International Ownership Transition Plan is Failing

Deborah Finch, Dannible & McKee LLP

Developing and executing a successful internal ownership transition plan is critical for engineering firms seeking an exit strategy and for current owners who prefer not to sell to an external buyer. Explore many of the common pitfalls of internal ownership transition plans and concrete strategies for resolving these issues.


Fiduciary Claims: Risk Management Strategies

David J. Hatem, Donovan Hatem LLP; Karen Erger, Lockton Companies

Learn how design professionals can ensure that project contract terms do not provide for a higher standard of care or a position of trust and confidence that goes beyond what the law requires and what is insurable. Discuss what consulting engineers can do to craft contract language that makes it clear that no fiduciary relationship is intended by either party. 


Workforce Development Challenges and Opportunities for Engineering Firms

Phyllis Elikai, McKim & Creed; Elizabeth Uzzo, H2M; Julianne Nevins, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

A/E firm human resources experts discuss recruiting and retention challenges when competing for the same pool of qualified individuals, attracting diverse candidates including gender, race, culture, diversity of opinions, and backgrounds, and helping employees embrace the exponential pace of technological change.

Session Sponsored by BST Global


Wednesday, May 8


Effective Contractual Risk Mitigation

Wayne Marshall, Ames & Gough; Mark Seiden and Richard Davies, Milber, Makris, Plousadis & Seiden, LLP      

Take a deep dive into contractual risk mitigation techniques, including a succinct analysis of topics such as indemnification clauses, warrantees/guarantees, certifications, standard of care and the scope of services. Explore the do’s and don’ts of site services, IP rights, limits of liability and waivers of consequential damages.     


Considerations for Buying and Selling Small Engineering Firms

Victor Vacarro, Dannible/McKee and Associations, Ltd.

Acquisitions in the engineering industry are common among larger firms, however it is often more difficult for smaller firms to use acquisitions to grow. Valuation multiples tend to be lower in smaller transactions and plans for continued employment post transaction are even more critical. In this session, we will cover these issues and empower small engineering firms to find a path to an external sale, and discuss how acquirers can successfully purchase small engineering firms that complement their business.

1015 15th Street, 8th Floor NW, Washington DC 20005-2605 - P: 202.347.7474 - F: 202.842.2436 - E-mail: