ACEC’s Panel on Talent Management for Consulting Engineers

Consulting engineering firms require a proactive approach to talent management.

At this year’s ACEC National Leadership Conference a panel discussion featured subject matter experts focused on talent management. They shared insights into how firms can build an agile and motivated workforce to compete. Audience participation highlighted key industry concerns, including gender equality, industry changes, employee loyalty, and succession.

For firms to be competitive it’s important for them to think about brand” – Catherine Karakatsanis, Chief Operating Officer, Morrison Hershfield


Panelists described that engineers are looking for meaningful, challenging work. They want to feel respected and valued, and work in firms that are transparent and have a great culture. Employers need to think about the employee value proposition to attract and retain top performers. This includes using technology to improve processes and elevate the employee experience, and accommodating changes to the workforce and industry.

Talent management should be proactive and planned. Companies need to develop and attract talent in a mindful, planned way. Chris Newcomb, Vice-President, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd., described McElhanney’s approach of pulling rather than pushing people up. Here, team leaders prepare their team members for advancement by supporting their professional learning and growth.

Sooky Lee, Vice-President, GM, HR Business Process Outsourcing, ADP Canada and Larry Linton, Partner, Canadian Immigration, PwC Law were also panelists.


Discussion Highlights

Panelists and the ACEC audience described the dominance of men in the profession. This led to discussion on how firms can better support women, starting with recognizing what internal systems, policies, and behaviours are in place that perpetuate the gender gap.

Engineering companies rely on mobility and firms are increasingly securing work from all over the world. Having team members with understanding of international contexts can be a competitive advantage. This may mean hiring from abroad, providing training and support to increase their knowledge and relevant skills, or sending employees on international assignments.

Retaining creative talent requires understanding employees’ needs and ambitions. It is important to consider culture fit and attract employees that share the firm’s values. Practices should recognize that employees’ needs and ambitions change over time, and they should be flexible in the employer relationship to accommodate these.

Finally, the discussion highlighted the importance of staff to have a sense of future with the company. This includes having confidence in the firm’s performance and leadership, and for their own personal advancement opportunities. Employees want clarity on how they can shape their career within the practice. Succession planning was highlighted as a key question on the mind of employees and Partners.


Getting started

Innovia helps engineering and other creative firms develop talent management strategies and resources to meet their strategic objectives. We develop custom systems for companies to manage recruitment and retention, compensation, learning and development, and succession. Consider Innovia a valuable resource in helping ensure your creative ambition, expectations of value, and goals for your business are met.

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