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Ready to lead, launch and leverage: The Annual PerspECCtives Conference

By Catherine Watkins

Pulling together leaders in the engineering and construction management world, the ECC Annual PerspECCtives Conference convened in Florida on August 30, 2023. Against the backdrop of Hurricane Idalia's recent theatrics, almost 800 titans of the engineering and construction sector braved the stormy aftermath to gather in the sun-soaked embrace of Marco Island. The attendees are the owners, contractors and suppliers in the engineering and construction business—the architects of ingenuity, the conductors of complexity, and the dreamers who build the world’s structures, all converging under one roof to mingle, learn and share experiences from their collective treasure chest of more than 28.7 MM hr of engineering exploits.

The curtain rose on this grand symposium with a bang: maverick Adam Steltzner, who rocketed from failed rockstar to Chief Engineer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, regaled the audience with his cosmic journey, while unveiling his secrets to engineering stardom. He also touched on management topics from his recent book, a leadership tome praised by The New York Times: "The right kind of crazy: A true story of teamwork, leadership, and high-stakes innovation." Steltzner emphasized the cosmic significance of collaboration as the ultimate "superpower," as well as the critical nature of making decisions based on curiosity rather than fear.

Next, Anirban Basu, Chairman & CEO of Sage Policy Group, took to the stage, sans the stereotypical economist solemnity. With charisma, he played the role of the economic wizard and stand-up comic all rolled into one. Amidst chuckles and laughter, Basu dished out far-from-amusing projections on upcoming recessionary conditions that he expects will prevail for the next year.

Attendees then dived into relevant breakout sessions like “EPC road to perdition: From relationship doghouse to the sole source penthouse.” After lunch, it was time for the awards. First up, the ECC Achievement Award—bestowed upon the most well-rounded industry leader. This year’s recipient is Richard (Dick) Westney, Founder/Director of R/MW Consulting, whose commitment, leadership and significant efforts for the industry made him the perfect fit for this prestigious award.

The final recognition was the Spirit of ECC Award, an accolade for those who march to the beat of the innovation, passion and overall industry betterment that encapsulates the ECC’s mission. The recipient of the 2023 Spirit of ECC Award was the “2nd Chance Hiring Initiative” led by Refined Technologies in partnership with Crosswalk Center for presenting a creative and strategic solution to support people who have been imprisoned achieve a successful and sustainable reentry into society.

Finally, Vicki Hollub, President and CEO of Oxy, took her turn in the spotlight to share her low-carbon strategy, including Oxy’s investments in direct air capture and Net Power technologies as well as the benefits of CO2 EOR to fund the advancing energy transition. After some closing remarks, the assembly moved to the ballroom, just as the sun dipped below the horizon, for a sunset soiree—the perfect crescendo to an engineering extravaganza that had seen storms weathered, wisdom shared and connections forged.

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