Leadership Lessons: Laid Off? Now What?
Message from Executive Director, Lindsay O’Leary PE
Plus Section Staff Changes, New Leaders, and Budget Planning Updates
SECTION OFFICE: STAFF CHANGES
Our small staff team had a big change this summer! We welcomed incoming Communications Specialist Jennifer “Jenni” Peters to the team while wishing outgoing Communications Specialist Bailey Bounds-Pattison the best of luck in her new, out of state home.
Bailey Bounds-Pattison supported the Texas Section for nearly three years, joining our small team just prior to CECON 2017. She and her husband took advantage of an amazing opportunity and relocated to Denver, Colorado this summer. While I couldn’t be happier for this next chapter in Bailey’s life, I do miss the energy and creativity she brought to our small team. I know Texas Section members, the Editorial Committee, and the CECON Planning Committee miss her too. Prior to Bailey’s departure, she redesigned the CECON website – a huge personal accomplishment and an important undertaking for our flagship annual conference. I invite you to visit the modern and informative new site at www.TexasCECON.org.
The ASCE Texas Section staff team enjoyed the 2020 ASCE Texas Student Symposium Banquet in early March. Pictured (L to R): Bailey Bounds-Pattison, Lindsay O’Leary, and Mike Sosa
Jenni Peters joins us from a state-wide pharmacy association and brings more than 20 years of experience to our small team. She also is working on her Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation. Jenni started in July and was a huge help in executing our annual Leadership Development Weekend this summer.
Jenni is a native Texan and UT Austin grad with a BS in Sociology and Communications. She also “earned her ears” completing two semesters in the Disney College Program. Jenni is charged with overseeing the Texas Section’s website and Texas Civil Engineer, as well as supporting event marketing and managing social media channels. Learn more about Jenni’s role and read her full bio on our staff page.
“I look forward to getting to know the ASCE Texas members, colleagues in the industry, and helping to grow our community. The daily work of our members is inspiring, and I am humbled to be a small part in helping them build a better quality life for our communities.”
In other staffing-related news, Operations Specialist & Board Secretary Mike Sosa celebrated his three-year anniversary as a Texas Section staff team member in June. Mike plays a critical role on the staff team and we are lucky to have his full-time support.
WELCOMING NEW LEADERS
Earlier this year, the Texas Section welcomed two new 2019-2020 Board of Direction members: Larijai “LJ” Francis PE, a First Year Director at Large, and Chris Nance PE, Treasurer. LJ is a member of the Corpus Christi Branch and Chris is a member of the El Paso Branch. Both LJ and Chris filled vacancies on the board and began their positions mid-term. We are thankful for their willingness to serve and immediately step into their respective role.
The Texas Section recently welcomed Glenn Goldstein PE as Assistant Treasurer, who serves as a member of our Budget & Finance Committee. Glenn joins the Texas Section team from the Austin Branch.
Although these transitions are in-progress, the Texas Section is always looking for volunteers to support our outstanding programs and projects. Give back to your community, visit www.TexASCE.org/Volunteer to learn more!
OPERATING BUDGET: PRELIMINARY PLANNING
New Treasurer Chris Nance PE and Assistant Treasurer Glenn Goldstein PE are up to speed on all things related to ASCE Texas Section’s Operating Budget. The draft fiscal year 2020-2021 Operating Budget was presented to the Texas Section’s Executive Committee on July 17, 2020. Board members are now working with Committee Chairs to determine financial needs for the coming year, as well as associated grant funding opportunities. Prior to the budget’s endorsement by the current Board and adoption by the incoming board this fall, the Budget & Finance Committee is charged with balancing the budget. Balancing the $500,000 to $600,000 annual budget is no easy task. Over the last several years, the Board has approved use of the Texas Section’s investment account to balance the budget. The Board and Budget & Finance Committee continue to consult with the Texas Section’s Financial Advisor regarding the growth within our investment account and recommendations for limiting withdraws concurrent with recognized fund growth. With the uncertainty of membership numbers and overall economic impact of the pandemic, Texas Section leaders are planning a conservative approach to the coming fiscal year.
LEADERSHIP LESSONS: LAID OFF? NOW WHAT?
While many engineers are busier than ever, there are members of our professional family who are experiencing hardship due to the pandemic. If you have found yourself unemployed or underemployed, please know that you are not alone. Your ASCE family is here to support you. While no situation is identical, many of us have endured struggles throughout our careers and would be honored to help you.
I experienced a lay off in 2009. It was the most difficult career challenge I’ve faced. If you have been laid off or are underemployed, I am truly sorry and kindly offer a few ideas for a path forward.
- Pick-up the Phone. Let your professional family (local, state, and national) know that you are seeking a new opportunity. This part is hard, especially for many of our volunteer leaders who are used to giving help – not receiving it. After a year of looking for a new full-time opportunity a decade ago, it was an ASCE contact who put me in touch with the manager that offered me a new opportunity. Even if a direct connection can’t make a critical introduction, having a set of ears to listen and offer advice from various perspectives is valuable.
- Volunteer. Keeping my time occupied was important to my mental well-being. I had a purpose and I had something to list on my resume, during a period without a full-time position. Professional organizations, such as ASCE, and local non-profits like food banks, can always use a helping hand.
- Learn Something New. Attending seminars and webinars, and pursuing a new skill set, gave me a sense of accomplishment. With a plethora of webinars and virtual conferences offered by ASCE, the possibilities are endless.
- Get Creative. Do you know anyone with website design skills? Ask them to help you develop a personal webpage, or an interactive and high-tech version of your resume. Consider writing articles on LinkedIn or a local publication like the Texas Civil Engineer, to showcase your knowledge and help others. Plus, getting published can help beef up that resume and fill that gap. At one point during my job hunt, I considered renting a billboard to advertise my website. Seriously. The possibilities are endless.
- Say Yes. After a year of searching, I got my “foot in the door” by completing a task that would typically be given to an intern, not an engineer with experience. However, I was happy to help and be a resource…not to mention, earn a paycheck. I’ve since come to learn and appreciate that being a part of a small team means keeping an open mind. A willingness to roll up your sleeves goes a long way. I even found this concept helpful once I was gainfully employed. I said “yes” to difficult field work assignments, and while working at landfill sites is not glamorous, it is fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed fieldwork and the practical knowledge gained as a result, despite the Florida and Texas heat, mosquitoes, and storms. It is experiences like these that can lead to a career path you would have never envisioned for yourself.
- Be Thankful. This was the hardest part for me. I had a lot of self-doubt and it was easy to focus on the negative. Although it took me a year to find a full-time position as an engineer, I was fortunate to have family support. I also found time to exercise more and garden. It was not an easy experience, but it made me a better engineer and a better human.
I also invite you to start connecting by following TexASCE on our social media profiles. You have to start somewhere. Why not here? Why not now?
Lindsay O’Leary PE, CAE, LEED AP, M.ASCE
Executive Director, ASCE Texas Section