More Activity with DFS pioneered Certificate Program

Fresh from international success with FIDIC, DFS and ACEC Canada have collaborated on a new Canadian Management Training Program leading to a Certificate in Engineering Management awarded by ACEC Canada. This Certificate has as its objective to encourage exploring the business aspects of the consulting industry and to assist in Professional Development Unit (PDU) accreditations in applicable provinces. The program will run in 2021 and was fully subscribed as of December 2020, possibly necessitating a second edition.

It features three distinct modules:

The first Module will explore management concepts and theory through online learning.  Two-hour sessions are open to live participation or available through online recordings. The program instructors will deliver 4 separate learning sessions on topics such as:

Sales and Marketing

Proposals, contracts, and scope definition

Project planning

Motivation & delegation

Interpersonal skills

Integrity Management

In the Second Module, working online in pre-assigned groups, participants answer  case study questions  developed by the program instructors. The groups will prepare a presentation on their case study that they will deliver in Module 3. Case studies will be evaluated by the program instructors and awarded a pass/fail grade at the conclusion of the program.

For the third Module, groups will showcase their new skills and knowledge by delivering their case study presentations to a panel of senior industry leaders from the ACEC Board of Directors and ACEC Past Chair’s Council. This will be an opportunity for participants to enhance their presentation and public speaking skills and interact directly with panel members.

Groups will also receive feedback and evaluation from the panel on the content and delivery of their presentations.

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Success with the FIDIC FLMC Sessions

The 2020 season brought great success. The first edition of the FIDIC FLMC program. (FLMC stands for Future Leaders’ Management Certificate) was completed. Aided by a group of younger evolving engineering executives (see bios below) DFS has not only regenerated content and delivery but added extra credibility, as these recent DFS Associates are all graduates of FIDIC’s past Young Professional Training Programs. Some were taught by the very senior partners of DFS.
The new program was, coincidentally, fully compatible with an online approach, brought on by the COVID Pandemic. And since the onsite Geneva conference for 2020 was replaced by an online series of events, DFS quickly and ably adapted and created an online event for the graduation ceremonies. All in all, many student participants independently wrote to us praising the program and thanking the trainers for personal interest in their learning experience. This applied particularly to the required case study analyses, where often several trainers took time to comment on replies, directly communicating with candidates, on a platform available and visible to all. It is a totally unique learning experience, which can be emphasized in coming sessions.

Bios of DFS Associates:

Dr Michele Kruger (South Africa). Michele has a Master and Doctorate degrees from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She was an Associate Director at CSVwater and is a past board member of Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA). She helped launch the CESA Women’s Forum and chaired the FIDIC Young Professionals Forum and the FIDIC Capacity Building Committee. She currently participates in the FIDIC Future Leaders Management Certificate and chairs the FIDIC Inclusivity and Diversity Task Team. Michele’s impressive recognitions include ‘Best Paper by a Young South African in the field of Water Science and Technology’; ’Young Engineer of the Year’ and ‘Women in Civil Engineering Award’. South Africa.

Michael Walker
(Canada). Michael specialized in Environmental Engineering, at the University of Alberta, Canada. At the University of Alaska, he studied Arctic Engineering. He is registered as a Professional Engineer in Canada, and in the State of Texas and is a Project Management Professional (PMP) through (PMI). He currently works in Western Canada, as a branch manager, and has experience with large multi-national public companies, construction companies and small consulting firms. He is active in FIDIC and is a graduate of FIDIC’s Management Training Program (the predecessor to FLMC). He is a board member of the Consulting Engineers of Alberta. A recipient of the 2017 ACEC-SK Young Professionals Award, he is also the 2018 winner of the Allen D. Williams Scholarship through ACEC-Canada.

Richard Stump (United States). Richard has a master’s degree in Architecture from MIT and a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His work experience includes international assignments on US military projects, business development and growing markets in the Pacific, the Middle East, Horn of Africa, North Africa, India, and Afghanistan. His work experience includes projects in 39 different countries. Richard served as Chairperson of FIDIC’s Young Professionals Forum Steering Committee from 2006-2008. As member of the FIDIC Integrity Management Committee, he helped develop and rollout FIMS, the FIDIC Integrity Management System.

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DFS selected for FIDIC next generation Future Leaders Management Program

Following a detailed proposal to the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, FIDIC, (the acronym for the French title of “Fédération Internationale des Ingénieurs Conseil”.), in the fall of 2018, DFS was selected for an initial three-year period for a program of management training for up-and-coming professionals. The program starts in 2020.

DFS Design Firm Seminars, is the Canadian partnership founded in 2011, to offer training in subjects related to managing consulting firms. To know more see

The main focus of this FIDIC program is to strengthen the business expertise of young engineers and other professionals acting in the field of consulting engineering

The DFS designed program responds to input from young professional engineers all over the world, both as to cost and content. It features live online training delivered in different time zones, case study ‘homework’ posted on an e-platform and reviewed by trainers who are in part graduates of former FIDIC programs, and an optional FIDIC conference attendance, at an international location.

DFS along with ACEC (Association of Canadian Engineering Companies) pioneered a similar successful program for Canadian young professionals and acknowledges the influence this success had on the development of an international program.

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New second series of 2018 Webinars offered by ACEC in association with DFS

The 2017 first set of webinar series was such a success that it was repeated in the spring of 2018. Now ACEC, (Association of Canadian Engineering Companies) in association with DFS, have partnered together again to create a second series of webinars for November 2018, to help young professionals develop skills essential for a successful career as a consulting engineer. The topics covered in the series are outlined below.

Each Canadian Webinar session begins at 12:00pm EDT (noon) and lasts for 2 hours including a ½ hour Q and A.  Dates are found on the ACEC web-site.

Webinar 1:

Involves what is required to move from one stage to the other, the dos and don’ts of proposal writing, and getting an acceptable agreement. This session will cover the basic formats and general conditions of recommended agreement formats.

Webinar 2:

All projects are done by groups of people; that means planning and delegating as well as follow-up, all under budget and schedule pressures. Learn planning and managing principles applicable to most projects to support success on your next project.

Webinar 3:

The successful delivery of a project entails understanding the whole contracting process as well as the rights and duties of the consulting engineer. Learn how to avoid pitfalls when you are sent to the field.

Webinar 4:

Allows you to plan your success in the consulting environment. Learn people skills and approaches to dealing with teams and being the project manager, everyone wants to work with. There is a short on-line exam at the end to allow participants to gage their progress.

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Webinar Successes in late 2017 and early 2018

DFS Team members, in association with ACEC (Association of Canadian Engineering Companies), just completed a very successful series of 4 Webinars on administrative aspects of an engineering consulting firm, especially formulated to appeal to young professionals entering their careers as consulting engineers.

This first set of Webinars, which, by the way, was over-subscribed, was extremely well received by the participants, with many immediately writing unsolicited ‘thank-you’ notes in glowing terms including: ‘very useful information’, ‘very informative and enjoyable’, ‘enjoyed the session, appreciated the industry benchmarks’, ‘really good information’, ‘good job guys thanks’ and the like.

Registration numbers surpassed all expectations underlining the need for this type of training for young professionals. Consulting managers and principals realize that the more their young staffers understand the business of consulting, the more they will show interest in the success of projects and the important aspect of client satisfaction.

Initially basic subjects include the operating profile of departments or small firms, managing projects, introduction to marketing services, and risk management.
Further seminars planned would include, people skills, career planning, integrity management, financial accounting, firm evaluation and the like.

The association repeated the series of 4 Webinars in the early part of 2018, to accommodate late registrations and potential participants who could not be accommodated. Again the numbers attained were very satisfactory. If one ads the fact that some registrants shared the view with large screens, the actual numbers exceed the confirmed registrations. There are some 400 consulting engineering firms in Canada. If say one quarter do their own basic training in the business aspects of consulting, that still leaces a fair numbe of young professionals out there to be trained. As these are interactive sessions we found, through the Q and A sessions, that non-engineering staff also participated, They came mostly form the accounting groups of various firms.

The Webinars are presented by several members of the DFS partnership, all of whom are well qualified, having been in long-term careers in major consulting firms, and also having international recognition as approved trainers, by FIDIC the International Federation of Consulting engineers.

Here are some typical quotes from enthusiastic “thank-you” notes received following the Webinars:
– enjoyed the sessions, appreciated the industry benchmarks
– good presentation
– very informative and enjoyable
– really good information

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2016-2017 Activity Updates

A Busy 2016

The year started with requests for seminars in the East and Central Canada.
DFS activities continued at a great pace in 2016. A request from Manitoba for a custom designed seminar on overall quality management allowed Ben Novak to introduce a “Quality Matrix” to the local association. The workshop/seminar was
prepared with the participation of the local training committee.


Andy Steeves led workshops on “How Consulting Engineers Make Money” to YP groups in Ottawa in April and Kitchener-Waterloo in November. A full-day set of seminars for ACEC-NL is planned in St. John’s in April of 2017.
More recently John Boyd was invited to present a talk on “Sustainability” to senior
engineering students at the University of New Brunswick in
November. Andy introduced John to a crowd of approximately 120
students and faculty. His talk was well-received.

University Activity

Andy continued his involvement at UNB as Engineer-in-Residence where he mentored student groups on their senior design projects and provided lectures on engineering management and business practices.
Ben also recently gave a short pro bono seminar on career
planning, based partly in the DFS “career planning” module, to a
group of graduating engineering students at Carlton University in
Ottawa. More activity with graduates is expected.

The China Program

John Ritchie and former partner John Boyd were both busy with the FIDIC China
Project, which resulted in some 500 Chinese engineers being
awarded the title of “FIDIC Consulting Engineer” after completing
intensive seminars covering the ‘FIDIC Body of Knowledge’,
essentially the content of the FIDIC Guide to Practice and the
series of standard contracts offered by the international body.
You may recall that both Robin Crouch and Ben were involved in
the complete re-editing recently. FIDIC is the acronym for the International Federation of Consulting Engineers.

The YPMTP (FIDIC) Program

Robin and Andy continued their roles in the ‘Young Professionals
Management Training Program’ sponsored by FIDIC. This year the
program involved a series of webinars and online workshops as
well as an intensive face-to-face series of lectures and a major
project held in Marrakech, Morocco. Ben was involved in its
development and delivery for the nine previous years.

The ACEC White Paper

Following our presentation of the White Paper on Training to ACEC
(Canadian association of consulting engineering companies), we
also expect developments in the webinar field. The study, led by
Ben, identified cost of attendance for seminars, both on actual
fees and time involved in travel, is an issue. This favors on-
line delivery. An initial module may be based on our custom (for
Canadian firms) prepared Integrity Management module.


Plans call for Business Sessions to be proposed, for an
international audience of young professionals and others in the design industries. This has been in initiated by a preliminary proposal includung an overview of the FIDIC Guide to Practice. It is noted that there is significant interest in business principles among young professionals and professionals entering the consulting industry, to build a career. This interest extends to understanding the financial model of a consulting operation, including project control and management, as well as human resources practices and eventual ownership. Keep reading our blog for developments.

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Special DFS In-house Seminar Successfully Completed.

This half-day seminar was a custom in-house session recently requested by an Eastern Canadian consulting firm of about 100 employees in 4 offices. Some 30 participants heard DFS Partner Andy Steeves presenting project management principles and case studies in an interactive half-day face to face format. It was enthusiastically received.

Here are a few quotes form the DFS supplied Evaluation Sheet:

“For general overview, it was just the right length” –  “… very much liked the informal demeanor” – Excellent information” – “Very informative and well-presented”- “Presenter was very knowledgeable and …able to relate and provide real-life experience to the topic”

DFS available series of over 25 modules on various subjects were also discussed, and interest was shown for Time Management, Business Development and Risk Management. These topics are understandably key issues for consulting firms

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Novel Web-based Exams

DFS pioneers web-based exams for webinar courses. DFS developed a novel way for time-limited exams using a webinar platform with mail-back responses. The approach ensures complete confidentiality among participants and allows lecturers to quickly mark results. Participants are individually informed of results

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DFS and FIDIC (International association of consulting engineers) collaborate

This is a first for both FIDIC and DFS. Proposed by DFS, FIDIC agrees to host webinars on sustainability, expressly for design professionals. The summary is below. You should visit the quoted website for syllabus and registration conditions.

20 October, 2015 – 09:00
Type: Online
Language: English
Price: 290.00 €
Fees: FOR ALL 4 WEBINARS Full price 360€ – Early bird 290€ ( Before 20th September 2015)
Organiser/DFS partner: FIDIC

– See more at:

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More progress 2014/2015

The DFS team made significant progress in 2014 – and it has continued into 2015. A significant milestone was the successful implementation of the joint ACEC Canada-DFS Contract Seminars. These Seminars were well-received with good reviews, and continuing demand. Preparing these Seminars required extensive work including studying comments by a member organization task force on frequent problem issues and by analysing a contract format developed by a member organization specific to municipal works. The DFS lead on this project was Ben Novak. It should be noted that issues raised in both works are well covered in the ACEC document series on which the courses are based.
DFS members have also been invited to be judges in design and award competitions and other related activities including the annual Canadian Design Build Institute awards program.
A proposal to ACEC Canada by new DFS partner John Ritchie, (see CV below)for the preparation of a series on Integrity Management was accepted along with a printed guide to handle this complex subject. The first part of the mandate was completed in early 2015. Seminars on the subject will be offered along similar lines as the Contract series. John Ritchie and former partner John Boyd also completed training in China through FIDIC sponsored seminars.
During the 2014 DFS partners participated in on-line and in-person teaching sponsored by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC). The culmination of this program came at the 2014 Rio Annual Meeting of FIDIC where a DFS proposed exam was tested on the student body. This helped to identify levels of participation and to measure the results of the annual program offered by FIDIC. DFS partner, Andrew Steeves was selected by FIDIC to participate in the YP (young professionals) program replacing long-time FIDIC mentor, Ben Novak who retired after nine years in the YP programme. Robin Crouch, DFS European partner is also part of this YP program.
During 2014 DFS partners, Novak and Crouch, co-authored the revised abridged Guide to Practice with Danish consultant Steen Frederiksen. This Guide is intended for emerging consulting engineers and will be published and sold by FIDIC and used as a text in the YP program.
In line with creating courses and webinars on the subject of Sustainable Development, DFS has submitted a successful proposals for a series of seminars – possibly including tests to certify successful completion. This initiative will be led by DFS partner Robin Crouch.

John Ritchie CV
John Ritchie is a Civil Engineer with more than 40 years of experience with hydropower and water resources in Canada and Asia. Concurrently he acquired 10 years of experience in design and implementation of anti-corruption compliance programs, for major engineering firms and engineering projects. He has served on the Board of Directors of two Canadian consulting engineering associations, and of the Canadian Hydropower Association. He is currently a member of the Integrity Management Committee of FIDIC, and is on the Boards of Directors of a Canadian hydro-based electric power utility, BC Hydro, and of Transparency International Canada.

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