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Advocacy, Leadership and Mentoring – Building the Next Generation


By Liz Fischer, BCxA Executive Director

As Executive Director of the BCxA I spend a fair amount of time advocating for our members and the commissioning profession. As an organization we also have members who act as liaisons to other industry associations, committees and boards, and we promote commissioning throughout the building community and regulatory environment on behalf of our members. Advocacy has been a pillar of the BCxA since its inception.

This year BCxA President Dan Forino established developing the next generation as a theme of his presidency. As a young leader himself, he is interested in bringing more entrants into the profession at an early career stage. As we have joked at more than one Board meeting, “an association of ‘older’ professionals will not be around for long.”

I believe that leaders must light the way for the next generation. They must act as mentors to young engineers and building scientists pursuing commissioning. At our 2018 Annual Conference in Nashville, TN, Evan Wyner led a panel of young people on this topic. He referred to the TED Talk by Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, with a model that opens with a “golden circle” and the question “Why?”. Its premise is this: It’s not what you do, it’s Why you do it.

Evan went on to describe how we can frame “Why” around commissioning. Here’s a typical explanation to potential employees: ”We provide commissioning services. We do this by using checklists and testing systems and equipment.”

But what if we said: “We are helping to save the environment. We do this by making sure building systems are installed and working as designed and at peak efficiency; we call this building commissioning.”

We are very good at describing what we do and how we do it, but not always Why we do it.

How do we, as leaders, mentors and advocates for the commissioning profession, redefine what we do and how we do it based on the answer to Why, which can be different for every one of us.

The building industry will get back on track with a renewed perspective on the challenges of designing, building and operating for maximum health, safety and environmental impact. At the same time, the “millennial” workforce (born between 1982 and 2000) has become the largest living generation in the United States – over 83 million people. According to research on drivers for this group, traits they value for their work life are ideal for innovation and the future of the built environment:

> Tech-Savvy – To say the least. This generation grew up with cell phones and a computer in every house, they have no fear of technology.

> Work-Life Balance – The fast-track lifestyle is lost on them. There is more to life than their job; they are looking for flexible and less billable hours. Climbing the corporate ladder is not important.

> Achievement-Orientation – They want work-life balance AND opportunities to learn and prove their value. They expect learning opportunities and coaching, and to use them to meet their own high standards.

> Team-Orientation – Contributing as a team member is viewed as an opportunity to learn from others, but also to investigate, offer feedback and share their knowledge.

Who wouldn’t want to seize upon these traits in their employees and enhance the collaboration of team members?

Seems like it should be easy to find and show the Why for this generation. So, as BCxA Leaders and advocates for commissioning, how would you describe the Why to a millennial as you invite them into the exciting world of being a knowledgeable, forensically-driven Commissioning Provider?

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