As an AEC technical professional, it is likely your aspiration to be an expert in your field—to know your work and discipline from back to front, top to bottom. Whether with your peers and leaders or through professional training and coaching, every day provides an opportunity to stay abreast of what’s changing in the industry. In fact, the two ways technical staff can best engage in training are by seeking mentorship from senior leadership and seeking training in peripheral areas or being mentors themselves.
Mentorship from Leadership
There is always room to grow, even when there’s no one above you—but especially when there are professionals leading you. Technical professionals can actively seek mentoring from senior leadership in several areas, including:
- Attending association meetings
- Sitting in on business development phone calls
- Watching presentation rehearsals
- Practicing feedback on proposal quality control review teams
- Writing project descriptions with feedback from marketing staff and/or senior leadership to practice writing skills
- Getting involved with marketing training/SMPS
- Attending conferences and webinars and even local classes
While you may be concerned with straying away from the specific details of your expertise, it is important to learn more about the periphery of your job. Training in anything outside of your technical expertise from business acumen (how to read financial statements and increase profitability) and sales (how to bring in new clients and/or increase the number of repeat clients) to public speaking (how to interview better for projects) will directly supplement your professional growth and make room for a valuable upward trajectory.
Becoming a Mentor
Aside from pursuing your own personal growth, consider how you can mentor those around and coming up behind you.
By the time a technical person is a Project Manager or Project Director/Executive, they have learned a lot about how to make projects successful and work with clients, not to mention how to grow their career. Helping less experienced technical professionals grow will result in direct improvement for the mentor and the firm itself. Those who teach learn how to articulate and exact their expertise, and those who learn from them receive a leg up in adjusting to the demands in their field. Mentoring is a win-win situation.
On top of it all, technical professionals should not be afraid to be a leader in coaching and training. If your company doesn’t have a professional development plan, help develop one. You can help identify people around you who should be mentors, or who needs mentoring. You can pass along resources, make room for less experienced professionals, and more.