by Kevin Grigg, CEO
I was in a meeting last week when someone made the astute observation that it was the last full working week of 2022. Though I knew what day it was, hearing that statement still had me questioning where the year had gone. It seems like this happens every year – days, weeks, and even months go by at what seems to be a normal pace (or sometimes painfully slowly), and then the calendar flips to November and time seems to speed up. As we near 2023, I find myself reflecting on the past 12 months and simultaneously excited for the prospects of the coming 12 months. In that spirit, I would like to share with you three things that I’m especially proud that we, as a company, have achieved over the past year and three things that we resolve to focus on in the new year.
In 2022, Fuss & O’Neill placed special emphasis on our internal resilience efforts. As a company, we have long focused on our external resilience efforts, helping New England communities and private clients adapt to ongoing and anticipated changes in climate. And we’ve always done our part as a company to practice what we preach (LEED-certified office space, EV charging stations, recycled materials, etc.), but we figured we could do more. Diane Mas, PhD, REHS/RS, CC-P, who is our firm’s Chief Resilience and Sustainability Officer, led an internal working group that created policies and engaged all employees to help to make our workplaces more sustainable. Our Sustainable Earth Day Challenge, in which we asked all employees to suggest implementable improvements, garnered many great suggestions, and several have already been implemented. I am proud to report that approximately 50% of our office-based and office-hybrid-based employees will be composting food waste generated in their workplace and that we are piloting the use of a zero-waste box for safety equipment. Our intranet now hosts a sustainability page that details our sustainability policy and provides sustainable workplace guidelines. The firm also recently completed a commuting survey so that we could identify opportunities to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions. Though we made great strides as a company this past year, this commitment to sustainability and resilience will be ever present and we shall always endeavor to improve.
This past year I was impressed with our employees’ commitment to our communities. This was demonstrated with monetary donations to more than 25 local deserving organizations and a host of in-person volunteering events. This included fun runs, environmental cleanups, and working with children on STEM events. What I’m really proud of is that this giving was represented in EVERY office. We have a corporate citizenship program that handles the logistics, but the desire to donate time and resources has truly been an organic swell from our employees. Though many, many people have exemplified the spirit of giving, I’d like to spotlight a few employees that went the proverbial extra mile this year: Katherine Patch, PE (a Transportation Engineer in our Quincy office) spent a year helping to plan, organize, and implement the Transportation YOU STEM event in Boston as part of her volunteering efforts with WTS. This event introduces young girls to transportation careers and was held in-person for the first time since the pandemic. Katherine was joined by several other transportation engineers from our Quincy and Boston offices. Special thanks also to Sudip Bafna, PE, CHMM (who leads our Connecticut Compliance Group) for championing volunteering efforts with the Hartford Boys and Girls Club. Thanks to Sudip and many others, many kids were introduced to engineering through two fun building projects: one with model bridges and the other with a full-scale hydroponic greenhouse where they can grow their own vegetables! One more person I’d like to give special thanks to is Norm Lemay (a Designer on our Transportation Team out of our New Hampshire office) who organized a toy drive for the Pine Haven Boys Center. Norm has been organizing this toy drive and accompanying party since 1999 and I know the entire office really enjoys this tradition. Thanks Norm for always thinking of others!
Finally, I am so proud of the growth we have achieved as a company this year. We’ve opened 2 new offices, hired more than 80 people, and welcomed 5 new shareholders. Internally we’ve grown too – adapting to the changing workplace by offering remote or hybrid work opportunities, instituting new holidays/vacation days, and implementing important safety protocols. I’m particularly proud of our internal DEI growth. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee has brought about some wonderful opportunities for our employees. We offer monthly roundtables that are a facilitated discussions on a different topics (e.g., the development of highways and how they have contributed to classism and racism; ADA and ableism) and there is also an established Book/Podcast Club that meets every other month to discuss a selected book or podcast. These efforts are spearheaded by employees and are really impacting our culture by creating a safe, welcoming, and inclusive workspace.
I could go on and on about all the firm’s employees and achievements that I’m proud of this year, but that calendar is about to turn and so I must think about next year as well. An engineering firm must always be thinking about what’s next, so in that vein I will note the three things we resolve to focus on in 2023:
- Client Experience
- Recruitment and Retention
I won’t go into great detail about the plans for each of these, but I will explain the why behind them. Regarding client experience, we always want to make our current and potential clients lives easier. Our job as consultants is to solve problems for our clients, and the process of solving those problems should be painless. We should be accessible, available, and accurate – and that should start even before the first phone call. So we will be implementing new processes to ensure that our clients always get our best. In terms of recruitment and retention, we, like most companies, have experienced our share of the Great Resignation. But more so than that, we strive to be a great place to work simply out of respect. Everyone deserves to feel welcome in their workplace and appreciated for their efforts. That is the baseline. From there we will look for ways to improve our employees’ lives: to make sure work/life balance isn’t just a trendy slogan; to seek out projects that people are proud to work on; and to offer top shelf benefits and incentives. And the common thread between these first two resolutions leads to our third resolution – advancements in technology. We’ve had great success building specialty apps for our projects and know that they can be time- and money-savers for both our clients and our team. And we know that better software internally leads to faster results. So we’ve made a commitment to invest even more into this in the coming year. I would like to thank our Innovation Brainstorming Committee who have made it their mission to seek out, evaluate, and engage in items that may improve efficiencies through automation to existing work processes, to provide improved client deliverables, and/or to expand service offerings. I think we’re going to make huge strides in these areas in the next 12 months!
As we straddle this time between the past year and the coming year, I encourage you all to think about the things you’re proud of. Reflection can be an impetus to change and a great way to practice gratitude. I know that, for me, just putting these words to paper has made me feel so grateful for not just the things that I wrote about here, but for so many little wonderful things that have happened over the past year. I want to thank all my colleagues for their tireless efforts, all our clients for their trust, and my friends and family who support me. I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a joyous new year!
About the Author
Kevin Grigg, PE, is the firm’s President and CEO. He wishes you all a safe, restful, and joyous holiday season!