Orange County Branch Newsletter

February 2013

Younger Member Forum

YMF - Balancing Soft and Technical Skills Jan 2013

By: Remi Candaele

The Board of OC YMF was pleased to host the “Balancing Soft and Technical Skills Workshop” on January 17, 2013. A comprehensive panel of successful professionals attempted to provide answers to a conquered audience of 44 younger engineers and students on how to develop a balance between both skills set.

Natalie Meeks, Director of Public Works at the City of Anaheim, and Kandice Sherwood, Deputy Director of Human Resources at the City of Anaheim, interacted with our group in a presentation entitled “The Yin & Yang of Becoming an Enlightened Engineer”. The presentation emphasized on the five fundamental elements that will lead a younger engineer to efficiently balance technical proficiency with interpersonal impact:

  • Listening with a virtuous heart: understanding a message is translated into body language and capture what is in the interlocutor’s mind.
  • The art of collaboration: collaboration consists of incorporating and building on the ideas of others. The key is to set one’s ego aside and make a point to look for value in the ideas of others.
  • The human connection: the ability to tailor ones approach and behavioral style when communicating in order to establish rapport and relate well to all levels in the organization.
  • Openness to change and continual improvement: being able to receive criticism is critical. The audience was invited to practice the “Stop, Start, Continue” concept.
  • Initiative and passion for excellence: being resourceful and demonstrating inner energy and enthusiasm.

Natalie and Kandice shared several personal experiences, invited our audience to participate in practical exercises, and asked each attendee to pick one aspect to practice over the next few months.  

In a second act, Josue Vaglienty, Project Manager at RBF Consulting, shared his personal experience and challenges with soft skills. Josue emphasized on the importance of mentoring and having a mentor, and explained that it is extremely rare to be naturally gifted in soft skills. Josue’s long involvement with ASCE has not only helped him communicate concisely, but also work with peers of different personalities and dynamics. Josue strongly advised the group to take advantage of every opportunity to practice soft skills in the future!


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