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 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

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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Innovation and Sustainability in Infrastructure

At the June 2012 Annual General Meeting of ACEC (Canada) JOHN BOYD discussed the current state of infrastructure in Canada and the way forward if we are to meet Canada’s demand for infrastructure. Discussion examined important questions such as: What strategic advice can engineers provide to government? What have we learned from past investment programs? What should future programs look like if they are to offer the best long-term return on investment? What are the opportunities for innovation and sustainability? How do we ensure a prosperous future for Canadians?

Building Lasting Client Relationships

At the same conference ANDREW STEEVES provided an insight into the skills that are essential in building lasting client relationships. Andy, a DFS faculty member is a leader in the consulting engineering industry. He shared best practices that have led him to success in his own career, and provided tips on how to shape and guide your career. The skills and techniques that are required to successfully connect with your clients and understand their evolving needs were be explored in this interactive session.

Common Consulting Industry Risks

Recently DFS member Dr. JOHN BOYD elaborated on the various risks common in the consulting industry and how to mitigate them. A group of over 90 young professionals to be, from the University of Toronto Faculty of Engineering attended. The session went over very well.  It was an evening presentation as one of three sessions.  DFS got very good response to what seemed a revelation to many planning to enter the profession. 


DFS faculty member Dr. JOHN BOYD presented a Sustainability Course in two one day sessions in Jordan in late August this year. The content was based on courses he has given all over the world, including Germany, the Netherlands, the US, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and India.  It is intended for anyone interested in providing engineering sustainability services to their clients. 

Using FIDIC Contracts for International Assignments

BEN NOVAK, another DFS faculty member, presented an overview of FIDIC (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) contract formats for both the consultant and the construction contractor at a Conference on the subject to be held in New York in early October 2012. The conference compared North American practice with the approaches used by FIDIC and accepted by the World Bank and International Lending agencies.

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Up-coming Events:

DFS is active and involved.

DFS member Ben Novak is active with FIDIC, the Internatinal Federation of Consulting Engineers in a virtual six month training course covering many aspects of developing a consulting practice. This initiative is based on an e-platform and is attended, so to speak, by some 60 young professionals from all over the world. Training follows a modified case study method. A once-a-year three day face to face seminar consolidates the material and concepts developed. The seminar coincides with the annual FIDIC conference in a different international location each year. Last year the conference and sessions were in Seoul, South Korea.

Ben Novak will also be involved as part of a two person team, in the redrafting of a short version of the FIDIC Guide to Practice, a book format that is meant to be used by start-up firms and as a teaching aid for the FIDIC  YP (Young Professionals) Training Program. The timetable aims at completion in the latter half of 2013.

DFS members are also active in management consulting functions with a number of firms in Eastern and Central Canada. It is this ongoing participation in the business of engineering which constantly contributes to bringing meaningful current practice evolution to DFS seminar and conference participants.

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Welcome to the DFS Blog-site

Welcome to the DFS Blog-site. We invite you to post comments related to learning the business aspects of the consulting design business.  A consulting office is a demanding work environment that requires not only high technical competence but also advanced skills in business and communications.  Graduate design professionals are faced with the need to continue their education once they enter the workforce to supplement their technical skills with all the other requirements of the business and to keep up to technical advances. Good consulting firms recognize the need to complement technical staff skills and encourage their people to broaden their capabilities.  This is where we at DFS come in. We can develop content particularly suited to individuals and corporate needs, or even help build on-going programs.

Imagine you are running any professional consulting operation, but particularly engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, interior design or environmental studies. What would be some of your business and leadership concerns?  We want to respond to issues front and center in a designer’s mind related to making the business successful. This includes all the subject matter outlined on our website, but also ideas and issues we may not yet have addressed directly.  DFS founders and additional available Canadian advisors will address questions and issues, and if appropriate include them in forthcoming seminars and interactive sessions.

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