Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2013 WEF/AWWA Young Professionals Summit

Student & Young Professionals (S&YP) Committee
David Watkins                          John Beacham
Committee Chair                        Committee Vice Chair
208.489.7949                               360.450.9254
dwatkins@jub.com                   John.Beacham@veoliawaterna.com

Dear PNCWA Members,

David Watkins, S&YP Committee Chair and John Beacham, Vice-Chair, recently attended the Water Environment Federation Young Professionals summit in Phoenix. Haley Falconer, a PNCWA member and a member of the national WEF YP Committee joined as well. The event was co-hosted by the American Water Works Association and attracted young professionals from all reaches of the US and Canada. The one day summit focused on the “soft-skills” necessary for YPs to grow successfully in their careers. Both WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger and AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance welcomed the group and participated in activities throughout the day. A major highlight of the Summit was the informal atmosphere in which highly respected professionals openly shared their lessons learned with the group.

The first speaker, John Grubenhoff, shared insights from his 30 years of experience in corporate culture. He illustrated the cycle of reactions, in which an event leads to a personal response. That response drives a resulting action which in turn produces a new result. The next event is then perceived by and reacted to in a similar way. John highlighted that our response is shaped by our perception of the event, and that by reconsidering our position, we can often change the response and therefore shape our own reaction instead of making a snap “emotional” decision.

Ed Means and Marie Pearthree collaborated on an engaging discussion of negotiation techniques. The key to a successful negotiation, they explained, is to know the value of the various items in play and to find a solution in which both parties are satisfied with the outcome. They pointed out water professionals are in an industry together, and working together will accomplish more than working against each other. Both presenters offered examples of hard negotiations, complete with table pounding and shouting, and armed the assembled group with tools to negotiate those situations. It was empathized that finding a desirable solution is by far the best negotiation technique.

Karroll Alexander delivered the presentation least like other presentations: Business Communications. Using less than ten slides for an hour presentation, he illustrated that the PowerPoint is truly not the presentation. Karroll focused on three points: listening, eye contact, and passion. While the concepts were likely familiar to many in the audience, he used examples from his experience and exercises to demonstrate his point. According to Karroll, many poor communicators believe they are experts. Want to improve? His recommendation was to check out the International Listening Association.

Charlie Anderson, AWWA President, Cordell Samuels, WEF President, and Cynthia Lane, Director of Engineering and Technical Services for AWWA shared their combined wisdom in a question and answer forum. The three covered topics ranging from difficult management decisions to balancing life and work.

In one of the key sessions of the summit, various member associations shared successful programs with the others. The Chesapeake Water Environment Association puts on an annual job fair, the Northwest AWWA chapter organizes a scavenger hunt at their conference, and another group held a social evening complete with Salsa lessons. In exchanging what works and doesn’t work, both during this presentation time and in discussing with other attendees, the PNCWA representatives gained ideas for planning future events in the northwest. Upon completion of the first year of the Mentoring Program, PNCWA will have a great story to tell at next year’s Summit.

~S&YP Committee

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