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Pathways to Leadership: An ACEC Program

Brent Thomas

June 25, 2019

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) represents thousands of companies throughout the nation, acting as a voice for the engineering industry. The organization has been around for over 100 years and is a federation of 52 state and regional councils that represent more than 600,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors and other specialists. ACEC assists its member firms with things like government advocacy, political action, and business education.


As a part of their business education efforts, ACEC provides a "Pathways to Executive Leadership" program. This program is an intensive professional development program that is intended for mid-career engineers who are close to transitioning into a position of firm leadership and are prepared to think strategically about their careers but need some guidance to get there.


The curriculum of the Pathways program is focused primarily on engagement and relationship building, team effectiveness, and nurturing client trust and confidence. Participants of the program also work on becoming more balanced in personal and professional life, more influential in team development, coaching and client relationships, and more strategic in business relationships to build a strong client portfolio.


The curriculum includes:


  • Personal and career visioning
  • Strengths and self-awareness
  • Coaching, active listening, and managing others
  • Intentional influence
  • Personal sustainability
  • Effective community and political involvement
  • High-level business development
  • Leading a team of teams
  • Strategic market analysis


Another perk of being a part of the Pathways program is that attendees are given opportunities to connect with leaders of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry at ACEC’s Spring and Fall national conferences and to join state member organizations to lobby our nation’s representatives on Capitol Hill.


Two of our employees, Annissa Neider and Michael Morelli, recently graduated from the Pathways program. Annissa provided some insight on her experience, and this is what she had to say:


“My experience with Pathways definitely exceeded my expectations. We kicked off the program in Las Vegas with a lot of self-reflection.


The 22 participants came from all over the country and worked in different fields of engineering with a large range in ages and levels of experience. Having the ability to learn from all of those different people is what I found to be most valuable.


From November to March, we had three different webinars that focused on different aspects of business management and “war stories” of various CEO’s and engineers within the industry about how they managed everything from work/life balance to mergers and acquisitions.


We wrapped up the program in Washington, DC, where we focused on client relations and lobbying with representatives of congress. It truly was a unique experience to get a chance to understand what goes on in congress and being able to see everyone that was there to lobby, not just for ACEC, but for various causes and purposes.


My biggest takeaway from this experience came from listening to my fellow classmates and all of the people we interacted with while participating in the program. Young or old, there was something to learn from everyone. It made me feel so much less alone in regards to the challenges that we all face in the industry.”  – Annissa Neider


Registration for Pathways to Executive Leadership: Class 4 is now open. The program will span six months, kicking off during the ACEC Fall Conference in Chicago, IL, October 12-15, 2019.

If you are serious about taking the next step upward in your career and are interested in registering or learning more about ACEC Pathways, click here.