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  • 1.  What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 09-25-2017 09:42 AM
    I'd like to hear your about your biggest career challenge. What is your career track, technical or management? Where are the strengths and gaps in your skill competencies? How do you plan to identify and fill those gaps? What does your learning and development journey look like? What are the two or three biggest hurdle you face as you strive to succeed in your career?

    Randy Wall P.E., M.ASCE
    Engineering Leadership Institute
    Bozeman MT

  • 2.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 09-26-2017 09:45 AM
    ​Hi Randy,

    I would say my biggest career challenge is opportunity. This is all dependent on my firm's opportunity to provide myself that opportunity. In addition timing is another challenge. Depending on the timing of an opportunity, I may or may not be available to take on that opportunity.

    I would say my career track is more management but still an emphasis with technical as well. I worked for a smaller firm where many hats were worn by individuals. A recent merger has hats being changed and less hats needing to be worn, so we are in an opportunity period to specialize.

    For filling gaps, when there is an opportunity available, you need to put your hand up right away and seek that opportunity. Depending on timing and current load, if you are already putting in 45 to 50 hours a week and this opportunity will take an additional 5 hours per week, you need to determine if the additional 5 hours per week is worth it long term. Some opportunities are seldom to come and it may be worth it. Other opportunities are those that come constantly and they may not be worth the additional 5 hours per week at that time.


    Kenneth Mika
    (414) 731-3111

  • 3.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 10-01-2017 11:45 PM
    Ken:  I appreciate your comments.  I would like to add that engineers are creatures of curiosity, and our cognitive minds result in boredom if things are not challenging.  If you are becoming a specialist, after five years put effort into moving on to something new.  The beauty of Civil Engineering is there are many options within our field. When you start a new discipline it is always stressful and challenging.  Then as you adjust, it just becomes challenging.  I have found that each time I have changed expertise, I bring with me transferable skills from my prior experience which reduces the period of stress.  I was given this advice early in my career and it has resulted in an interesting and rewarding career. It also made it easy for me, when economic changes made moving to something new sensible. I think younger workers no longer believe in job security and will probably benefit from knowing that changing expertise is not a bad thing, so long as it does not happen too frequently.  It is the reality of the new economy.  To managers, I advise that what is important to young workers is to build their resume so they look attractive when things are in flux.  It is the new normal, and young people know it. I recommend you track progress and move them along when they need something new.  If you want to retain young talent, don't make them have to quit to get the varied experience they want.    

  • 4.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 09-27-2017 10:23 AM
    For me, the technical stuff has always been easy.  I am pretty good in a large group being the center of attention, presenting something of interest.  I never suffered the need to visualize the crown with clown noses on or something else.  After over 25 years in the field of Civil Engineering, and starting my own company the biggest challenge for me is still one on one interactions with new people.

    I still have problems with creating relationships with new people.  I think it is because when I am with a small group the interactions are more personal, and less technical.

    For example, once in a meeting, we went through the "How are you?" stage, and the person I was interacting with, really was having a bad week, and shared more than made me comfortable.  I did not know how to turn the conversation away from the personal stuff, to the business at hand.  I am sure that in that conversation, I turned someone that could have become a very strong advocate for my work into a disinterested agency employee.  Even I could learn that this "Sheldon-like" behavior was unacceptable, and never repeated the phrase or concept "Now that we have finished with the preliminary good days, can we get to the real reason I am here."

    Based on the reaction of the person I was with, I knew that I had stepped in it up to my waist.  I never repeated something like that.  I wonder how we can help others like me not have to go through the agony of losing a potential advocate, and friend over a single sentence.  Is this something teachable in a way that does not involve hitting us on the top of a head with a 2x4 every time we do something like this? 

    I am sure that Partrick Lencioni would say that I am not very SMART.  But I think he would say that working on listening and understanding feelings would go a long way to making me SMARTer.   Maybe we need to add some practical psychology to the engineering curriculum so that engineers learn that technology and mathematics are not as important as relationships.

    Dwayne Culp, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng, M.ASCE
    Culp Engineering, LLC
    Richmond TX

  • 5.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 09-28-2017 12:53 PM

    To Dwayne's point about relationships I had a professor junior year for highway design who told us at the beginning of the semester that once we began practicing as engineers that our day would be 10% engineering and 90% dealing with people. Truest statement ever. Like everything in life it is all about relationships and people. It would be nice to have some classes added to engineering programs that help to learn the 'soft skills', but then the it would be almost impossible to complete your B.S. in four years.


    Thank you,



    James R. Wilson, P.E.


    Engineering & Construction Department


    O: 843-727-6878

    C: 843-696-8352




  • 6.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 09-28-2017 12:53 PM
    Dealing with people. The technical stuff was always easy for me to understand but not understanding people has held me back. It held be back for a long time. Engineering curriculums should include material from Stephen Covey and Dale Carnegie, or similar concepts from others and the educators need to stress the importance of it. It would go a long way in helping young engineers in their careers. Understanding relationships is just as important as understanding the technical stuff.

    Adam Graham P.E., M.ASCE
    ECS Southeast
    Charlotte NC

  • 7.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 09-29-2017 01:06 PM

    Adam Graham's comments regarding Dale Carnegie and Stephen Covey are true.  I took the Dale Carnegie course "Human Relations and Effective Public Speaking" in 1975.  The consulting firm I was with at the time considered the course worthwhile enough to pay half the tuition for all engineers to attend.  I have drawn on the principles throughout my career and consider this the second most important thing I did after graduate school.  I have also taken the Stephen Covey courses "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "The 4 Roles of Leadership".  These resources will serve you well as you progress in management, or if you decide to start your own business in the future.  Another good resource is John Maxwell's "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership".

  • 8.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 10-01-2017 11:42 PM
    My biggest challenge at the moment is advancement opportunities. I enjoy my work, but I seem to be sandwiched between folks with a few years more experience than myself and significantly younger engineers who are not yet ready to step into a project management role. It's the 15 years of experience quandary.

    So, in the meantime, I am actively working to develop and hone the soft skills necessary to eventually step into a higher management role. I really enjoy the people/client facing part of what we do.

    Stephanie Slocum P.E., M.ASCE
    Associate Principal
    Hope Furrer Assoc Inc
    State College PA

  • 9.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 10-02-2017 01:27 PM
    I faced those issues too.  The way I got past that was to volunteer for every crazy project that they had.  This may involve taking on some very small, but important projects.  That way you can show them that you understand how to manage a budget, and resources.  If you can do it on small projects with almost no room for error, then the big projects will come.

    Dwayne Culp, Ph.D., P.E., P.Eng, M.ASCE
    Culp Engineering, LLC
    Richmond TX

  • 10.  RE: What's your biggest career challenge?

    Posted 11-30-2019 10:06 PM
    My greatest professional challenge was speaking truth to power.

    After meeting and hearing Dr. W. Edwards Deming for the first time at a birthday celebration for him
    in Wash, DC, around 1985/1986, and then reading his "14 Points For Management," it has really not been
    that much of a challenge . . .for me professionally nor personally.

    Admittedly, it still causes others concern.


    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880