On February 27th AEC Firm leaders and marketing professionals gathered for Part 1 of SMPS-NY’s first-ever Executive Roundtable Series. A repositioning of the chapter’s annual Principal’s Breakfast, the event shifted the focus from upcoming project opportunities to a more thought-provoking, brainstorming session of how firms can provide more value and increase their profitability.

Breaking from the conventional panel format, the audience members themselves drove the discussion, which was facilitated by Brent Robertson of Fathom. Rather than directing a linear program about an overall economic forecast, market trends or projects that may or may not come to fruition in five years, Brent instead asked participants to challenge themselves and their colleagues in an examination of why architecture and engineering industries lag behind when it comes to profitability and how they can change the course.

Attended by AEC Principals, Business Developers, and Marketing Professionals, the conversation explored how together, we can create a value-based industry where client experience leads not only to repeat business, but higher profitability. By asking our colleagues and clients what is in their futures, and what keeps them up at night, we are positioning ourselves and our firms to go beyond the everyday conversations of the present and better understand how to solve problems of the future.  

Additionally, we discussed how to deliver work more efficiently, which will of course increase direct profitability, but also will free us up to go beyond the core services that are expected to truly add value to what we do. We learned how to declare our value more powerfully, to get in the “Vision Delivery/Value Creation” business by demystifying the AEC process and giving clients a compelling case of why our profitability matters to them. By abandoning industry behaviors that hold us back, we can develop profitability as a creative enterprise, and we can involve everyone in our firms through a culture of social equity and transparency.

While it was impossible to arrive at final conclusions in a two-and-half-hour time frame, the goal of the event was to provoke higher-level thinking, which ideally will continue long after the program. And continue it did. Following the event, murmurs were heard throughout the week, as people digested the questions that were asked and had more time to discover how they could begin to apply some of the principles and advice that arose throughout the program. In addition, the feedback from attendees indicated that they want more of this type of discussion.

We’ll be continuing to explore these topics and more in Part 2 of the Series on April 3. In this session, we will hear directly from clients about their concerns for the future, as well as examples of how AEC consultants have gone above and beyond to provide added value, and maybe where some have fallen short of expectations. By getting the client perspective, we’ll be able to build upon the ideas that emerged in Part 1 and have clear takeaways to bring back to our firms. Be sure to join us!

Check out photos from the event here!