Highlights from Day One of A/E Advisors CEO Roundtable

Kathryn Sprankle’s session entitled “Good Governance: What Strong Boards Should Accomplish” was one of two sessions kicking off the first day of A/E Advisors’ Annual CEO Roundtable at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. The event, which offers design and construction firm CEOs the opportunity to meet and discuss issues unique to the top leadership spot in their firms, runs from March 10-12.

In her session, veteran A/E industry leadership consultant Sprankle led the assembled CEOs in a discussion of the qualities that define a successful board of directors. Sprankle noted that good governance means strong, clear decision-making, a feature that is lacking among many A/E firm boards. The assembled CEOs also discussed the ideal number of people on a board, the role of outside board members, and the board’s primary responsibilities (e.g., holding the CEO accountable, ensuring that the strategic plan is followed).

Concurrent to Sprankle’s session was strategic planning expert Ray Kogan’s session, entitled “Your Firm’s Future: Painting (and Selling) the Big Picture.” This SRO session focused on the CEO’s role in getting employees to buy into and help execute the firm’s vision.

Colvin Matheson, CFM, discussed firm valuation in turbulent times. This was a wide-ranging session that included input from firms with ESOPs to those whose value is based on convoluted formulas — one firm said their valuation formula is 20 pages long. When the discussion turned to the importance of good financial reporting software, Colvin said: “I’m a finance guy. If I see crummy information, I see risk. If I see risk, I see lower valuation.” Colvin also offered a word about the importance of cash these days: “Cash is no longer king; in this economy, cash is god.”

Other sessions, which we’ll address in future blogs this week, were presented on project delivery, marketing/branding, and the leadership pipeline.

While Tuesday’s program was exclusively for firms with fewer than 150 employees, Wednesday’s program combines the smaller and larger firm CEOs. Highlights include keynotes from engineering legend Charles Thornton and intelligence expert Herb Meyer.

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