My Vision for the New Member Year
Mugdha Tipnis, ACEC/MW's Incoming Board Chair, gave the following speech at our Annual Conference on May 31, 2023.
I'd like to begin by thanking Linda Bauer Darr, Art Barrett, Robin Greenleaf, Ralph Guida, and the entire ACEC National Board for their leadership in advocating for our industry. Under Linda's stewardship, ACEC has changed the face of advocacy for the engineering profession.
I would also like to thank Steve Hall for his continuous support of ACEC/MW and for always generously imparting his legislative knowledge to our board and committees. Linda and Steve could not be present today due to other commitments but sent their regards.
Quoting Steve Hall, who said it best: “In representing the nation's engineering industry, I'm advocating for companies that design solutions that make our roads safer, our water cleaner, our buildings greener, and the built environment more resilient and sustainable.” They all do it so well!
I can't thank Mac Cannon and Anna Seekins enough for all they do for this organization. When I joined ACEC/MW some 12 years ago, Mac was the first face I saw when I entered the room, and he made me feel like I belonged. He walked me around, introduced me to people over time, and encouraged me to find my place on committees, and then over the years on the board, and now in this position as Chair. I really appreciate all that goes behind planning this annual conference, and all the other events they organize. I applaud Anna and Mac for creating an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere we all want to be a part of.
I would like to thank Keith Foxx, Immediate Past Chair, for his energetic leadership. Keith brings his energy and passion into everything he undertakes, and I always tell him that I admire his audacity as a leader – nothing gets in the way of his goals – he sets them and achieves them. He set out to introduce STEM to our next generation of engineers. On the 10th of May, ACEC/MW, under Keith's leadership, held its inaugural STEM event at Key Middle School in Springfield, Virginia. He builds teams, empowers them, and then lets them succeed. I'm humbled and honored to be serving in this role after him – they're big shoes to fill – literally and figuratively.
Today, I am thrilled to join this distinguished group of great leaders. If you have been a past president or chair, please stand up and be acknowledged. Thank you.
I have four leaders that I wanted to highlight in particular that I have worked with closely since I joined the ACEC/MW board. I joined the board when Rizwan Siddiqi was the President and I continue to admire his dedication to advancing ACEC/MW's mission. I always appreciate Pedro Capestany's dynamic and fearless leadership style, and I am inspired by Jim Hoffman's stable and calm reactions to challenging situations. Like many of you, I continue to be energized by Keith's visionary ideas and influential persona. They, along with so many of you in this room have been instrumental in shaping ACEC/MW to where it is today, and I look forward to continuing to advance the goals of our strategic plan – to Educate, to Engage, and to Advocate.
I would be remiss not to express my gratitude towards some of my mentors and champions, past and present. Jerry Seaton, my very first boss in graduate school, showed me how thoughtful encouragement helps individuals successfully advance in their careers. John Lobene, my boss at my first grown-up job at GE, always made it a point to uplift me and would insist on me sharing my thoughts - especially - when they differed from others. Manish Kothari from Sheladia Associates, who you know as a past ACEC National chair and active ACEC member, first encouraged me to join ACEC but more importantly, he introduced me to the business of engineering. Mr. Pravin Sheladia for sharing his business acumen and wealth of knowledge so freely.
And to my WSP mentors and leaders, thank you!
Brock LaForty has traveled to be here today. He is always enthusiastically supportive and always has my back. Rolando Amaya, whom you heard from before, shows how you can be a competitive and assertive leader and yet be a kind and positive leader. Jerry Jannetti who imparts his knowledge and experiences so generously and is always so encouraging.
They've all been so giving not only in sharing their pathways to success but sharing the challenges they have faced and relating how to overcome them. Leadership in the face of adversity is a true test of character and I've been fortunate to have been and continue to be mentored by some of the best. There are so many others who have guided me on my journey, I may not have named you, but I'm truly blessed to have so many mentors and champions like you that continue to inspire and motivate me. I am following in your footsteps by giving back to my mentees.
Mentorship has always been a vital part of learning from the past to achieve greater success in the future. From Socrates to Warren Buffet, and even Yoda -- mentors saw their mentees as being teachable, determined, and full of potential. As aptly quoted by Sir Issac Newton, "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." I know this sentiment is shared by so many of you in the room.
There is a need to continuously develop our future leaders and mentoring is one of those key ways. To that end, we are launching an ACEC/MW Mentor-Mentee Pilot Program this year to provide emerging leaders and young professionals with an opportunity to forge new relationships with our members.
We encourage our member firms to support this mentor-mentee program through the coming year and beyond. Under the guidance of experienced leaders like all of you, our industry's future will be set on the path to greater success.
Those that know me know that I'm passionate about nurturing our next generation of leaders, continuously growing our client partnerships – true partnerships, and creating a sense of belonging for all. My focus for this coming year is tied to four goals:
First, Workforce development is a continual challenge facing our industry. We cannot continue to do things the way they were done before. In this room, we have the power to inspire a new generation of leaders, by meeting them where they are and helping them reach their full potential.
In addition to the mentor-mentee program, for workforce development, we will continue our Emerging Leaders Program this year to educate and engage young professional members. We will continue our golf tournament and other fundraising opportunities for scholarships; we will increase STEM engagement with academic institutions starting from middle and high schools; and look for meaningful engagement with our committees.
Next, to continue fostering our client partnerships, we will work with our clients to stay up to date on industry best practices and work together to solve the challenges we all face as an industry. There will be more educational and engagement opportunities through round tables, partnering sessions, and training forums.
Third, there will be an increased focus on advocacy. Every member should feel they have a voice and be heard on important issues facing our industry. I encourage you to join the legislative committee and the procurement task forces to understand the good work being done and help us achieve much more.
Finally, above all, I will work to create a sense of belonging. We grow and succeed when we feel like we belong and I want our members, ALL OUR MEMBERS, to know that they have this space to grow their careers and increase their influence on the future of our industry.
This is a volunteer organization, and I would like to thank all our member volunteers that work tirelessly to advance our goals. Thanks to all the committee chairs and vice-chairs, past and present. We are stronger because of you. I look forward to collaborating with our members, industry partners, and client agencies, and working closely with you. I look forward to working with our Board of Directors and with our President, Mac Cannon, and his talented staff to help implement our vision. I look forward to our open, honest conversations, especially when there are difficult conversations because that's where we come together and succeed.
I'm excited for a great year ahead and look forward to what we can do together. Thank you for joining us today. I wish you all a safe and healthy summer. Thanks.
- Rizwan A. Siddiqi, P.E.
- Anna Seekins, J.D.
- Kyle Urda, P.E., Facilities Chair
- Arthur Jones Dove, PE, PMP, CCM, MBA, PgMP
- Hanif Drzal, P.E., CJP
- Michael A. Perrotta, P.E., AICP
- Aaron Smith, P.E., LEED AP, Maryland Municipal Committee Chair
- Erin Donovan, PE, CQA
- Mary Searing, PE, DWRE, CFM and Norelis M. Florentino, PE, MBA, PMP
- Pedro Capestany, PE
- Hanif Drzal, P.E., CJP & Jenny Bowers
- James Thomas, P.E.
- Norelis M. Florentino, PE, MBA, PMP
- Vel Subramanian, PhD, PE, BCEE
- Sean Rousseau, P.E.
- Keith Foxx, P.E.
- James P. Hoffman, PE, LEED AP O+M, CEM
- Arpan Patel, PMP
- Qamar Kazmi, PE and Monty Simon
- Sean Rousseau, PE and James Thomas, PE
- Adam Marolf, PE, D.GE
- Mugdha Tipnis
- Bryan C. Layman, P.E., L.P.S.S., A.O.S.E., LEED AP
- Eric Rehwoldt, P.E., P.G.