ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

It’s Vintage.

11.11.13 by Doug Brown
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In a recent Origin post by Ron Jantz, he writes about his career of 25 years at Wallace Engineering. He recounts his progression in responsibilities, the transitions that occurred along the way, and the life changing experience of becoming a principal. The life of a “lifer” as he calls it. However, there’s a common element running through Ron’s story that goes unmentioned…it’s loyalty.

The dictionary defines loyalty as faithfulness to one’s commitments or obligations. But, who is the loyal party here? Is it Ron? Or, is it Wallace Engineering? I say it’s both.

Is this still a time when a talented employee works hard and is rewarded by his employer and advances within the company? I believe so; it’s a simple matter of developing homegrown talent.  Too often we see employees jumping ship for what they see as their next opportunity. It may be tagged as financial, but is that really the case?  Maybe that next opportunity is within their current company. It may be a transition they make that redefines their skill set, or an interest they possess that fulfills a need for the company. We have several employees that fall into these categories. As an employer, the key is to allow them to pursue this path, keep them engaged and nurture the development of that talent. By doing so, odds are you will gain their loyalty in the process and your clients will be better served.

I have been given the opportunity to do more than just engineering. Early in my career, I expressed an interest to Tom Wallace about running the finances of the firm. Through other interests, I have completed space planning, acted as a facilities manager, negotiated leases, and coordinated multiple office moves. As time progressed and I became a principal, Tom delegated more and more of the financial responsibilities to me. After many years of balancing these duties along with my engineering, I now serve solely as the chief financial officer. I can’t imagine having had these opportunities with any other firm. As a result, I have spent over 30 years with Wallace Engineering.

So, what opportunities do you see within your firm? What are you doing to explore these? Have you taken actions that may redefine your skill set? Do you have an interest that fulfills a need within your firm? We should all look at where we are on our own personal journey and decide how we can improve. As an employer, we should recognize the talents of our employees that need to be cultivated. What processes do you have in place to make this a reality? Granted, this takes time and effort on both sides. But the end result can be quite gratifying.

I look back upon my career with Wallace as one that encompasses multiple careers within one firm. And, I think back to when Ron Jantz started his career and was working for me. I’d like to think I had a hand in helping build the foundation that lead him to become a “lifer.” The cultivation of one’s loyalty…it’s vintage these days.

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Doug Brown, PE


Doug received his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design degrees from the University of Kansas. His project…

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