Dawn Edgell, P.E., PEPP Chair 2012–13
Time and time again, we NSPE members are told to put together an ‘elevator speech’ on the benefits of NSPE and how we can sell our organization to potential members. We see the value of being a part of the Society, and we hope others will see those benefits also.
In recent weeks, I realized that there are other types of ‘elevator speeches.’ This has been particularly important to me over the last few months with the company change that I recently went through and having to quickly learn the talking points of my new company. I know why I joined this company, but translating that into something to sell to potential clients is a different conversation. When attending client meetings and they already recognize the name of your company, it’s fairly easy to discuss ‘why you should hire me.’ But what about those occasions where you’re attending pre-bid meetings, volunteer events, conferences, and so on?
Trying to sell the brand of your company to someone who doesn’t know your company’s logo involves more thought. You usually don’t get more than a few minutes for that conversation, and you don’t always get a second chance. Whether you are new to a company, as I currently am, or have worked for the same employer for years, it’s worth reviewing what you say about your company; in this day and age, things are always in a state of change.
Another opportunity for an elevator speech I was recently presented was at a
STEM high school career fair. When talking with hundreds of high school students during a small window of time, you are lucky if you get more than 5 to 10 minutes to speak and answer questions that a group of students may have. Most of them are there because they have heard of engineering or a teacher pointed them in that direction—but how do you answer their question about why they should consider engineering for a career?
Many of us participate in volunteer events such as MATHCOUNTS, the Future City Competition, and EWeek, but during those events do we really address ‘why engineering?’ If you give a few minutes thought to why you selected this career, you may be able to touch and influence a student.
I’m sure most of you know the influence we have with our kids, families, friends, coworkers, and those we interact with daily, but take a few minutes to think about how a small conversation can have an impact on someone you just met. I was recently reminded of this myself, when I received a thank you note from a student who is now going to pursue civil engineering this fall because of a 10-minute conversation we had at a career fair.
Keep Your Client's Information Confidential
Increasingly, clients seem concerned
about the confidentiality of information shared with an engineering firm and
the security of the information developed by the firm for the client. While
some standard contract forms require that clients identify information that
must be protected, the law usually requires protection for all information
specific to a client that is provided to the consulting firm or created by the
consulting firm for the client. In some cases, clients—especially large
corporate clients—require firms to sign nondisclosure agreements with both
financial remedies and injunctive relief contractually mandated for any
exposure of client information.
Procedures Should Acknowledge Project-Specific Concerns
The standard of care for
confidentiality is changing. Leaving information on a hard drive built into a
photocopier was not seen as negligent behavior in the past. Now, if a firm does
not wipe the hard drive images manually or have a photocopier that does so
automatically, the firm is at risk for a variety of confidentiality breaches,
privacy violations, and other regulatory problems. Similarly, the very
existence of Facebook and Twitter has changed the standard of care for
confidentiality. Some of this affects confidentiality in the performance of
If a firm approaches all client
information as confidential and properly alerts and trains staff that client
information must be safeguarded, then the firm is acting prudently. And it is
highly likely that if there is any leak of confidential information during the
performance of professional services it would be subject to professional
liability insurance coverage.
Security and confidentiality
concerns may force a firm to change its internal practices on some projects to
better protect information provided by a client. Some firms (especially those
that perform design services for federal agencies, large or high-tech corporate
clients, or individuals with expressed concerns over privacy and security) have
special internal procedures and educational programs to prevent the intentional
or inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information. Often, a nondisclosure
agreement guides any changes to internal procedures.
Agreements Are Business Agreements
There is nothing in a
confidentiality agreement that changes professional liability coverage.
Professional liability insurance exists to cover actual damages caused by the
failure of the policyholder to perform professional services in a way that
meets the standard of care for the services provided. This results in
significant business risk to firms that do not appreciate client
confidentiality and information security. A client requiring contractual
indemnity for any harm caused by the release of proprietary information rarely
is willing to tie that obligation solely to negligence. The client might
require protection irrespective of the reason for the release, creating a risk
to the firm that might be manageable through careful practice, but the risk is
not insurable through professional liability coverage. This is because a client
is harmed just the same whether private information is divulged intentionally,
with malice, for financial gain, because of physical or digital sloppiness in
the protection of information, or because of negligent procedures in using the
information during the performance of professional services.
Engineering firms should therefore pay special
attention to any contractual obligations that require
keeping their client’s information confidential.
© 2013, Victor O. Schinnerer & Co. Inc. Statements concerning
legal matters should be understood to be general observations based solely on
our experience as risk consultants and may not be relied upon as legal advice,
which we are not authorized to provide. All such matters should be reviewed
with a qualified advisor. Victor O. Schinnerer & Co. Inc. is managing
underwriter for the Schinnerer and CNA Professional Liability Insurance
Program, commended by NSPE/PEPP since 1957.
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15 Free PDHs For NSPE Members
The new lineup for 15 free professional development hours is now available. See the complete list below.
For more information on how to sign up go to: http://www.nspe.org/MemberBenefits/fifteenfreepdhs.html. Don’t forget to click on the FAQ button at the bottom of the page for answers on how to "purchase" the PDHs.
2013's 15 Free PDHs
1. Conflicts of Interest: Will Proposed Federal Rules Impact Engineering Practice?
2. Engineering Ethics: What Is the Impact of the Ongoing Economic Crisis on Engineering Ethics?
3. EJCDC Construction Contract Documents: Key Clauses and New Approaches
4. Got BIM? It's Not Just About 3D Models
5. Harnessing the Power of Change
6. How to Conduct Effective Meetings
7. IT Solutions for AEC Professionals
8. Key Federal Contracting Laws that Everyone Must Know
9. Legal Realities of Project Scheduling
10. Ethics Forum: Maintaining Objectivity, Truthfulness, Nondeception, and Preserving Confidentiality
11. Pending and Current Legislation, Rules, and Programs That Will Change How We Manage Stormwater
12. Project Management and Ethics
13. Ethics Forum: Protecting the Public Health, Safety, Welfare, and Demonstrating Professional Competence
14. Strategic Planning
15. Ethics Forum: Whistleblowing, What Are the PE's Obligations to Report Misconduct?
You can find more information on how to register for webinars on the NSPE Education Web site.
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New Construction Contracts Reflect Best Practices
The new 2013 EJCDC Construction Documents for 2013 are better than ever before and are now available for purchase on the NSPE Web site. NSPE members receive a 50% discount.
According to a recent ENR article, the new "changes have the potential to head off the kinds of poisonous conflicts that ruin so many projects and threaten to bring losses and possible ruin to the companies involved."
EJCDC contract documents are known to offer many benefits including reduced conflicts and litigation. Other key attributes that set apart EJCDC contract documents from other model contract documents:
Purchase a full set or buy single documents such as the Standard General Conditions of the Construction Contract, multiple bonds and forms, or the Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor.
Learn more about EJCDC documents through NSPE online continuing education.
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Network & Learn With Your Peers in Minneapolis!
The NSPE 2013 Leader Conference and Annual Meeting, July 17–21, in Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center Hotel, offers many opportunities for engineers to network, earn PDHs, and learn about the top issues affecting the profession and the Society.
Listen to why NSPE President-Elect Robert Green, P.E., F.NSPE, started attending the annual meetings and Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers President Kerry Cooley Bruggemann, P.E., share her personal story.
Conference highlights include:
Wednesday, July 17
Private Tour: A/E View of Target Field
Earn 3 PDHs while getting a private view of the Minnesota Twins' new baseball stadium while learning about its engineering and design features.
NSPE Networking Reception
"Minnesota Nice" is the theme of this networking event hosted by the Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers.
Thursday and Friday, July 18–19
Leader Conference and Annual Meeting
8:00 a.m.–5 p.m.
This year offers two education tracks for attendees to choose from. The Leader Conference will focus on building strong volunteer leaders with sessions to help enhance leadership knowledge, skills, and style. The Annual Meeting track offers 12 PDHs to attendees, which includes sessions with the "father of the smart grid" and stories from engineers who have responded to structural collapses.
Saturday, July 20
NSPE Networking and Installation Lunch
This event includes the installation of NSPE President 2013–14 Robert Green, P.E., F.NSPE, the Board of Directors, and the House of Delegates. Ronald Bennett, Ph.D., founding dean of the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, will motivate the audience to be proud volunteers when he talks about "Engineering Leadership: The Magic of the Mindset."
Learn more about all the Annual Meeting's events and register today.
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