Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2015


ASCE OC YMF Speaker Series 2015

By: Remi Candaele,  Alex Maher, Michael Pierce and Isamar Escobar

Edit  by: Daniela Malott

The ASCE OC YMF “Engineering: Behind the Scenes” brought a series of presentations by five prominent and well-respected leaders in the civil engineering field. This year’s series built upon last year’s event “Leadership and Success” by taking a look at the valuable, desirable, non-technical abilities and skills of successful engineers. Developing these skills helped each of the five seasoned professionals become prosperous in their respective careers. Young engineers should thrive to develop these pivotal skills for the benefits of their career advancement. All presentations were both valuable and unique.

On Tuesday, April 21st, the speaker series was kicked off with Patti Boekamp’s presentation on “Road Blocks: Changes in Your Career.” Patti Boekamp has been the Principal Program Manager/Associate Vice President for its San Diego office and the Southwest District since May 2013. She has over 27 years of transportation and capital improvement project delivery experience within the San Diego region. Patti’s presentation was a look into her career throughout the years and how she dealt with the various challenges she came across. Her presentation began with discussing her early career and how she rose through the ranks in the City of San Diego to eventually becoming the Director of the Engineering and Capital Projects Department.

As Pattie moved up in her career she faced many challenges with balancing her work and personal life as responsibilities at the work place demanded more of her time. It its quite inspirational to hear Patti talk about how she overcame many obstacles and her experience as a women in engineering. Throughout her presentation, Patti gave the audience advice on how to deal with both professional and personal obstacles. She emphasized that everyone is different and that each individual should prioritize to make decisions, and that professionals will all have obstacles throughout their lives. However, there are many tools and resources to overcome these. Patti’s presentation was a great opportunity for everyone to take a look at their own lives and their futures and how to deal with career and live challenges. She has had a good balance of both professional and personal examples and encouraged everyone to reflect on their own obstacles.

The second presentation was given by Natalie Meeks, who gave a brief overview of her management experience related to large projects specifically with the City of Anaheim.  As the Public Works Director she has extensive knowledge and management experience with improvements to Disneyland’s hotel area, traffic related to Disneyland’s visitors, alternate methods of transportation through the Downtown Disney area, and most recently the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC).

Natalie’s presentation focused on ARTIC, which was rewarded by a LEED Platinum Certification for the extensive environmental features incorporated into the building design. Achieving the LEED Platinum level triggered many unexpected challenges during the design and construction phases of the project.  She discussed how some of these challenges were not significant so she allowed deviations, while other challenges that compromise the significance of the building’s meaning (its scale, landmark status, cleanliness, and environmentally friendliness) were difficult to find solutions for.  She also discussed that high profile projects, like ARTIC, take up a lot of her time, so she must rely on her counterparts for support on other projects in design or construction simultaneously.

The third presentation was given by Robert Himes, President and Principal at Mark Thomas and Company. He gave an interactive presentation on the topics of "Managing Your Team" and "Professional Growth". The presentation began with a worksheet for all attendees to fill out in order to determine what type of personality category that person falls into. Robert explained the differences between each personality type and how an effective leader can identify traits of his team members and use that knowledge to place them in the most efficient area for their natural abilities. Robert also explained the differences between a technical person and a seller/doer and how a well-rounded professional will be a higher value to most companies. Along with leading a team, Robert also talked about the importance of keeping a strong schedule and how to prioritize the workload by setting intermediate milestones and tracking progress. 

The fourth presentation of the series was given by Robert Bein, Chairman Emeritus of RBF Consulting and Former National President of the ASCE. He was the only presenter this year who participated in last year’s speaker series, and it was a pleasure to have him join OC YMF on this event again. Mr. Bein shared his thoughts and knowledge on how to create and sustain genuine business relationships. Below are a few excerpts from his seminar.


Ever heard that word?

Everybody defines it a little differently.

Here’s my shot at it.

Someone who has the capacity, dedication, willingness, commitment, and courage to develop, organize and manage a successful venture, as well as accept associated personal and financial risks.”

 “Getting started in an entrepreneurial venture will require a significant time commitment.  Of course, since everyone has their own agenda, you can adjust the pie to suit your preferences.  Now, on to some points of entrepreneurial actions that I have found helpful.”

Lastly, this year, as a closing to the Annual OC YMF Speaker Series, a joint dinner event was held between OC YMF & OC Branch along with a soft-skills presentation on Body Language by Renate Mousseux. Renate is a body language expert, she has appeared on a number of national network television stations to interpret body language, she has assessed body language in a number of high profile court cases, and has been featured in various newspaper articles.  She gave an interactive presentation where she discussed how body language can be used to establish dominance, express gratitude, show confidence and control our mood.  She began by explaining that body language needs to be interpreted from many viewpoints instead of just focusing on one type of body language.  She explained that crossed arms alone does not indicate disinterest, leg positioning, the angle of one’s body, and eye contact also need to be analyzed before determining one’s disposition.  Renate presented a number of interactive and fun examples of how powerful body language can be.  She explained that introductions often determine the outcome of a meeting, and that one will often judge and determine whether they like or dislike someone, within the first thirty seconds of meeting.  Renate concluded that body language often controls our mood and passively changing someone’s body position can be used to change their mood to be more favorable of you

The 2015 OC YMF Speaker Series was a success. The event’s success was largely due to the collaboration and dedication of a small committee of YMF members led by Marcela Opie. In total, the event was attended by over 25 members. The public response has been so overwhelming and young civil engineers of the OC have made it a must to attend this series, and OC YMF looks forward to having this event again next year with new topics and presenters.

Until next year…

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