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Mission Critical: It’s All About the People

My mission statement came from a conversation with my father.    My father was 5 years retired and he was reflecting on his career.   He was an automotive engineer for Cadillac and Buick.   He had a fine career getting promoted up the ladder as an engineer and as an executive.  When I asked him what was the most meaningful achievements in his career, he said:  “the people”.  

I was surprised by this answer.  Car companies produce cool products….or at least a lot cooler than a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.    I asked him: what about the cars?    He said no, it was the people that he managed, mentored, and worked alongside.   Hmmm?

It is normal to compare yourself to your father and as a civil engineer doing Phase I ESAs and PCAs, I always felt like less of an engineer than a man who designed cars.   True as this may be, I found an opportunity to be successful in the arena that my father thought most important:  the people!

I set out to do something great:  build the best firm for talented employees.   I have more control over the work environment in my consulting firm than my father did at GM, and this has been our mission from day one.

I even kicked around a tagline of “Clients 2nd, Employees 1st!”   I think sophisticated clients would realize that happy, talented employees yield good service and high quality.   

Values are critical to attracting and retaining quality professionals.   A company must stand for something other than making money.   Staying true to values, even when difficult, has helped us create an environment where people work together and like each other.  We spend too much of our life at work to not get along with the people on your own team.   In the end, we might struggle to tell our grandchildren why our work was so important – we might end up like my father and talk about the PEOPLE.