Morrissey Goodale, LLC | AEC Management Solutions

Vol.7 Issue 2

AEC Industry DashboardTimely, trusted insight and expert advice for AEC firm leadersStrategy BriefingMarket Watch M&A Inside TrackWorkplace 2020Technology Corner
Strategy Briefing

Six Thoughts on Geographic Expansion

In the 19th-century, Manifest Destiny was a widely held belief in the United States that its settlers were destined to expand across North America...
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Six Thoughts on Geographic Expansion
Market Watch

Behind Concerns, Growth Prospects for Environmental Markets

• Chopping block: President Donald Trump has reversed course on federal environmental policy by appointing foes of environmental regulations to his cabinet and proposing a 31% cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget in 2018. Although the news from Washington, D.C., is concerning for firms working in environmental markets, prospects for 2017 and beyond are not as bleak as they may seem.

• More than meets the eye: The good news is that economics now trump federal regulations as drivers of certain environmental markets such as renewable energy. In addition, it’s possible that Congress might temper the administration’s proposed EPA cuts, and markets such as water and wastewater could even see a boost from President Trump’s pledge to increase infrastructure spending. According to a March 2017 survey by Environmental Business Journal, 51% of industry professionals expect modest or marginal increases in the water and wastewater management market.

• Stating their case: Although the federal government may pull back on environmental protections, expect states, cities, and public-private partnerships to fill the void. “States whether they’re blue or red are not going to take this lying down. States will become more important on energy and environment issues,” said Environmental Business Journal’s Andy Paterson at an Environmental Business International summit in March, according to a report by Environment Analyst. For instance, while Trump has moved to cancel the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era policy to combat climate change, at least 17 states have pledged to carry on as planned.

• Oil gushers: With the Trump administration removing the United States from the Paris climate accord, 80% of respondents to the March 2017 Environmental Business Journal survey expected declines in greenhouse gas mitigation projects, 85% forecasted drops in climate change adaptation planning, and 91% predicted decreases in climate change studies. Respondents were most bullish on environmental projects in the oil and gas, electronics/computer manufacturing, chemical, and health care markets.

Workplace 2020

Introducing Generation Z

• Ready or not: Just when you thought you had millennials figured out, here comes their successors—Generation Z, those more than 70 million Americans born roughly between 1995 and 2012. The first members of Gen Z are just starting to graduate college and enter the workforce, and David Stillman, co-author of the new book “Gen Z @ Work,” says they are “radically different from millennials.”

• Safe and secure: Having grown up during the Great Recession, political upheaval, and a perpetual war on terror and worried about soaring college debt, post-millennials are more conservative than their predecessors. “They are putting money and job security at the top of the list. Sure they want to make a difference, but surviving and thriving are more important,” Stillman said in an interview posted on the Society for Human Resource Management web site.

• No risky businesses: Gen Z sees a lengthier timeline for their careers and are likely to stay with companies longer than older workers. Stillman’s research found that 75% of post-millennials report they are willing to start at the bottom of a firm and work their ways to the top. More than 60% are willing to stay at a company for 10 years or more. They are less willing to take risks with their careers—at least initially out of college. A survey of 2017 college graduates by Accenture found that fewer are seeking jobs with startups while the percentage of new graduates seeking employment at large companies is up 37% over last year’s class.

• Hard wired: Gen Z has not known a world without an Internet. They are digital natives who grew up with smart phones and social media. Stillman’s research found that 91% of Gen Z say technological sophistication would factor into their choice of workplaces. That’s not to say they don’t crave the human touch. Stillman’s study also found that 82% of Gen Z prefer face-to-face communications. Having grown up getting instantaneous likes for their social media posts, post-millennials will be seeking immediate feedback in the workplace as well.

Technology Corner

Messaging Systems Challenge E-Mail

• Getting the message: Between viruses, spam, and hacking, e-mail has had a tough run recently, and some companies are turning to alternative workplace communications platforms such as Slack, HipChat, and Yammer that allow workers to send instant messages and share digital files. These applications work seamlessly across work and home computers as well as smart phones. Microsoft debuted its own workplace messaging system, Teams, in April to mixed reviews, and Google is expected to launch its own product by the end of the year.

• Slacking on: Slack, which has more than five million daily users and a strong reputation for security, “remains the undisputed champion of chat,” according to Infoworld, which gave it high marks (4.5 out of 5 stars) in May 2017. According to the Wall Street Journal, firms that use Slack report a nearly 50% reduction in e-mail. First released in 2013, Slack initially gained inroads with software engineers and has proven popular with project teams of all types. Slack allows co-workers to form channels around specific projects and have public and private conversations in a user-friendly interface. Slack integrates with file-sharing services such as Google Drive and Dropbox, and users can share files by dragging and dropping.

• Hazards ahead: The downside of instant messaging is that it raises expectations for instant answers and increases pressures on employees to be constantly connected—even after business hours. Digital security is also a concern. A 2017 survey by group chat provider SpiderOak found that more than 76% of respondents who communicate with co-workers through group chat services use unsanctioned applications, so it may be a good idea to require employees to use a single standard mandated by the firm. Workplace messaging systems have been equated with social media, and as with Facebook or Twitter, they can be a distraction. Think about the wisdom of having private invite-only channels. While workplace messaging systems have been equated to virtual water coolers, employees might write things about their colleagues or share office gossip online that they would never say in public.

Upcoming Events

Mark Your Calendars

Succession and Transition Planning: The Future is Now
June 20, 2017

On Tuesday, June 20th, Mick Morrissey will be a featured M&A Panelist at ACEC New York’s “Succession and Transition Planning: The Future is Now,” where industry leaders will discuss how they envision the future of engineering companies.
Learn more >

5th Annual A/E CEO Event at Fenway Park
September 7-8, 2017

The 5th annual A/E CEO Event located at historic Fenway Park will bring together AE firm CEOs from around the globe for a unique opportunity to discuss the future of the industry and best practices with their peers facilitated by veteran consultants Mick Morrissey and Mark Goodale.
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ACEC Finance Forum
September 12, 2017

Nick Belitz to discuss recent M&A activity in the A/E sector, expectations for the future, and current ownership transition trends.
Learn more >

3rd Annual Texas #AE Industry Conference
October 25-26, 2017

The 3rd Annual Texas #AE Industry Conference will bring together over 100 AE and environmental firm leaders, industry experts and Texas project owners and thought-leaders for the premier business and networking event in the nation’s hottest state for AE and environmental services.
Register Now >

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