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 designfirmseminars.ca.

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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2013 Activity in Toronto and the Maritimes

Former partner Dr. John Boyd gave two hour-long presentations at two separate events for the Young Professionals’ group in Ontario.  He also continues his U of T course on sustainability for engineers.  The class size is limited to 50 this year. This makes for a good group who are intensely interested in the subject.  Workshop activities are interspersed with lectures and that is working very well.

Andy Steeves recently gave seminars to an ACEC-NB group. There were over 20 registrants, well above the target attendance.  Attendees were from NB and PEI.

Ben Novak continues to deliver group seminars on the various steps of design-build project delivery as seen from the consultant’s viewpoint. The next session will be in Markham (Torornto) in early April. Consult the CDBI website for details.

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Quebec City and Montreal Young Engineering Professionals (YPs) Seminars

In late November and early December Ben Novak also presented very popular evening seminars (over 100 participants at the Montreal session) on career planning within the consulting industry also explaining the typical organizational structures of consulting firms. He ended the session with some hints on interpersonal relationship skills in the workplace, leaving the groups with references on texts and internet links. The seminars were arranged by the YP chapter of the AICQ, the local association of engineering firms.

Talks under Way to Promote ACEC Documents 31 and 32.

In the New Year we propose to stress the importance of early risk management by using approved professional services contract texts. Of course risk management has to be pursued throughout project delivery and DFS project management and filed management modules accomplish the task of explaining where the likely risk issues lie. With an increasing trend to integrated project delivery where the contractor or even the consulting firm become the client ( as in Design-Build ) an appreciation of the legal, insurance and indemnity issues becomes even more important.

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