Orange County Branch Newsletter
How much do we know about what’s going on around us?
By: Jeff Braun, P.E.
Jeff Braun, PE
I catch myself focusing on the task-at-hand so intently that I often blow right past the finer points of the experiences I’m lucky enough to be enjoying. Whether I’m at work, or out having a good time, I often fail to slow down and learn more about the team I’m working with and the amazing experiences, skills, and talents they offer. Especially when deadlines are looming, it is more difficult to pause and ask our peers and team members about their families, interests, and accomplishments. I’ve made efforts to do this more often, but have plenty of room for improvement.
Over the past few months I’ve learned a lot of new things about some of the people I thought I knew pretty well. One of our Field Geologists, who is one of the most relaxed “chill” dudes in our office, co-authored a paper on geophysical exploration methods from his studies while at school. He still loves running with the scrapers on large grading projects, but his eyes lit up when we started talking about his research and methods we were using on a recent project. A principal engineer in one of our satellite offices is the go-to resource for historical project information as well as the latest environmental policies …. not the person I expected to know details about members of hard-rock bands such as Pantera and Danzig.
Even in my role as Branch President I am amazed at what our fellow members are doing in their roles as engineers within their firms or agencies, as dedicated volunteers for ASCE committees or institutes, or through their support of charitable organizations. You may be very surprised what you learn if you ask folks you interact with daily about what really excites them and what they’ve accomplished beyond the offices or meeting rooms you’re sitting in. The same can be said for our ASCE organizations, as demonstrated in this month’s newsletter. It is too easy to keep your head down and focus on your primary area of interest, such as a technical institute or particular committee, but then you’d miss out on the accomplishments of so many of our peers and potential opportunities for your own personal growth.
This month alone we have articles covering ASCE OC members actively engaged in the Napa and Ventura fire relief efforts, high quality technical assessments of the state of Sustainability in Orange County, state-of-the-practice technical talks and tours from the Environmental and Water Resources, Geotechnical, and Utility Engineering and Surveying Institutes. We try to have some fun too of course. The Sustainability Committee paired with the Transportation and Development Institute for another social bike ride, and the Younger Members Forum continues to blow me away with the energy and camaraderie they show through the networking and social events along with their professional development dinners and tours. We also had the honor of recognizing our past and our future at the 2017 History & Heritage and Student Scholarship Night in November. There was such great energy at that event, and I really hope connections were made between our sponsoring firms and the outstanding students in attendance.
There are great opportunities for you to grow both personally and professionally through active involvement in ASCE and interaction with fellow members, but it won’t happen if you don’t take a few seconds each month to see what events are coming up, or take a few minutes next time you are at a luncheon to ask the person sitting next to you about their background and interests.
Earlier this week I had coffee with a firm we’ve partnered with on several projects and met one of their new project managers for the first time. After only a couple of minutes of discussion I learned she was from my hometown and we had both lived in the same relatively small German city for a number of years, although not at the same time. As you could imagine, that led to a lot of story sharing and surely strengthened the partnership I had developed with a wonderful firm and started a professional relationship with someone who shared so much in common with, but had not previously known.
If you don’t check out the upcoming events page, or scan the weekly email blast, you won’t see the next cool tour or interesting technical seminar that would open more doors for you. While there, you may meet folks from your hometown or alma mater and spark a relationship that will continue to grow your professional network and maybe even gain a new friend. All it takes is a small investment of time and effort to gain a lot of value in our relationships with those around us, and to appreciate the opportunities available.