Colleges Grasp at Straws, Freelance Contractors Encroach on "Traditional Jobs," The Beginning of a New Era in Professional Services, with Pete Atherton, Former Principal, Wright-Pierce
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Today’s guest initially went to school to become a veterinarian but ended up in a completely different place: as an engineer! Quite the shift, huh? Then he spent 29 years in the AEC world, ending up as the SR. VP and a principal at Wright-Pierce, a 250+ strong multi-disciplinary engineering firm.
We ask interesting questions on this episode such as:
- What is the future of education in heavily licensed professions (such as engineering and architecture)?
- How do we reverse burnout for mid-career professionals who are part owners in scaling firms?
- Does data support a shift to the gig economy for the AEC world? Later in the episode, you’ll hear the surprising findings of a study conducted by my guest along with the Engineering Management Institute.
Pete Atherton is the author of Reversing Burnout, a blueprint for professionals and business owners, and is the host of the AEC Leadership Today Podcast. He’s a frequent speaker at Zweig, ACEC, and ROG events.
This is our first dip into the world of professional services on The Native Digital + Native Analog Show, where the cost of recruiting + retaining talent is significantly higher than other industries we’ve explored. With an average cost per turnover of 40% of the employee’s yearly salary and an average engineering salary of $91,000/engineer in 2021 (2021 BLS study), firms are spending $35-45k per employee they lose.
In just a few weeks, we’ll hear from Tim Schroeder, President of Neumann Monson Architects, on his succession planning strategy to reduce turnover.
Pete is helping firms strategically position themselves for the transition to freelance, independent workers. And it’s time business owners heed his advice.
Pete on Independent Freelance Workers in
In collaboration with the Engineering Management Institute, ActionsProve did a 2021 study to find how COVID had impacted the AEC industry. Here were some findings that, while not surprising to Native Digitals, were quite revolutionary to see in the AEC world:
- Professionals with 10 years of experience or less (around age 30, aka Native Digitals😊) had 2X the affinity for a professional freelance career compared to someone later in their career.
- Over 50% of professionals said work was affecting their mental health.
Nearly everyone wants some type of flexibility in their work. Gone are the days of “work is everything… if I’m still living in 30 years, I’ll live life then.”
Pete on Burnout
If you listed out ALL the things in your life on your “to do” list, how many pages would be devoted to working and how many would be devoted to your family and other parts of life?
For Pete, there was a moment when he realized, his “to be” list was infinitely shorter than his “to do” list.
As a principal in a highly successful engineering firm, Peter had lived his 30+ year career chasing the next big thing.
But here’s the thing. Not only did Pete have a reckoning with himself. So has the entire AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry during COVID last year. Firm leaders will need to pivot dramatically to stay in touch with the newest generation of employees who are seeking companies with values and a purpose-driven, authentic identity.
Connect with Pete!
Get Pete’s book, Reversing Burnout
Connect at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter C. Atherton, P.E. is an accomplished AEC (architecture/engineering/construction) industry insider and practitioner turned executive coach and consultant. Pete has over 29 years of industry experience, 24 as a successful professional civil engineer, project manager, principal, practice group leader, major owner, and member of the board of directors with high-achieving engineering firms. Pete is now the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC (actionsprove.com), author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and the creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process. Pete is also the host of the AEC Leadership Today Podcast and the AEC Leadership Mastermind. Pete works with AEC leaders and firms nationwide to grow and advance their success through modern and new era focused strategic planning, executive coaching, leadership and management team development, performance-based employee engagement, and corporate impact design. Connect with him at email@example.com. You can also connect and follow him on LinkedIn.
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