Last week I attended the 11th annual ASCE Younger Member CEO forum at Columbia University in New York City. The topic for the evening was: Selecting an Engineering Company: Does Size Matter? There was a panel consisting of high-level executives from some of the largest companies in the world as well as some smaller engineering companies. The panel included: Jack Buchsbaum, Assistant Chief engineer at the Port Authority of NY/NJ (PANYNJ), Neal Forshner. Sr. Vice President at AECOM, Neil Lucy, Senior Vice President at Parsons Brinckerhoff, Joseph Tortorella, Vice President at Robert Silman Associates, and Theodore von Rosenvinge, President at GeoDesign.
The president of the lower Hudson Valley ASCE Chase De Rose started out the night by stressing the importance of finding a mentor in your engineering career. In fact, the word mentor seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the evening in the panel members’ responses. Once the panel began, younger engineers had the opportunity to ask these executives questions about working in big or small engineering companies. Deciding between a big or small engineering company can be a critical decision in your engineering career development.
One engineer asked the executives to give their opinion on how much harder it may be to stand out in a larger company. Most of the panel members responded by saying it was up to the individual to engineer their own success in their career. They’re general response was that regardless of the size of the firm, it’s your career and it’s up to you to take ownership of it and develop it. They did not think that the size of the firm would greatly affect how much you stood out. In fact, some of the executives of the larger companies even said that it might be easier to stand out at a larger company because of the magnitude of the projects that you’re going to work on. This makes sense because while at a smaller engineering company, you may work on a project that’s the biggest project that company has ever seen, however at a larger company you may work on a revolutionary project that may be one of the biggest in the world. In both cases you have a great opportunity to stand out and build a strong reputation in the engineering industry. [Read more…]