Takeaways from ElevateAEC

Oct 08, 2023

Zweig Group advisors reflect on key insights from this year’s entrepreneurial event.

The 2023 ElevateAEC Conference was a melting pot of ideas, strategies, and visions for the future of the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. This year’s theme was “entrepreneurship,” and the event brought together industry experts, thought leaders, and advisors to discuss key trends, challenges, and opportunities. Here are a few key takeaways from some of Zweig Group’s advisors:

  • Ezequiel Tovar, Analyst, Ownership Transition:
    • M&A risks. Mergers and acquisitions can be a double-edged sword. While they offer growth opportunities, they often lead to failure. It’s crucial for both parties to thoroughly understand the risks involved and ensure that the cultures and systems of the merging entities are fully integrated.
    • Next-gen ownership. The next generation of leaders in AEC firms are uncertain about becoming owners. It is important to communicate the value of being shareholders to attract and retain the talent needed for future leadership.
    • Genuine leadership. Now more than ever, authenticity in leadership should be a priority. Following Mancini Duffy CFO Bolanle Williams-Olley’s BOLD framework, “being yourself” helps leaders understand who they are and build from their strengths, ultimately elevating their leadership abilities.
  • Tracey Eaves, Director, Valuation Advisory Services:
    • Cultural fit in acquisitions. Cultural fit between two firms is the most critical consideration in any acquisition. If the cultures don’t align, the likelihood of a successful merger diminishes significantly.
    • Flexible work plans. Firm leadership’s commitment to providing employees with flexible work plans is vital for successful hiring and retention. Employees increasingly desire the ability to work remotely, and this flexibility is crucial to attracting top talent.
    • Balancing growth and cash flow. Be careful not to allow firm growth to outpace cash flow. While firm and revenue growth are essential for long-term sustainability, they must be managed carefully to avoid financial instability.
  • Ying Liu, Advisor, Strategic Planning:
    • DEIB leadership. It was encouraging to see leaders who are actively championing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives within their firms. This work can be challenging and uncomfortable but when it starts at the top, leaders can proactively reshape their company culture and make substantive, rather than superficial, changes.
  • Jeremy Clarke, Director, Executive Search & Recruiting:
    • AI transformation. Artificial intelligence is evolving and transforming AEC capabilities and processes at a very fast pace. Industry professionals should embrace AI and stay ahead of the trend. Failing to do so could result in being left behind.
    • Recruitment and retention challenge. Recruiting and retaining talent remains the single greatest challenge facing the AEC industry. Firms need to proactively develop organic internal strategies and capabilities to attract and retain top talent.

The 2023 ElevateAEC Conference provided a wealth of knowledge and insights for industry professionals. These takeaways from Zweig Group’s advisors underscore the importance of cultural alignment in acquisitions, the value of authenticity in leadership, the significance of DEIB efforts, and the need to embrace AI while addressing critical recruitment and retention challenges. As the AEC industry continues to face rapid change, firm leaders can heed these lessons to navigate challenges and seize opportunities within their own businesses. 

Click here for photos from the 2023 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala and M&A Next.

The Principals Academy Elevate your ability to lead and grow your firm with this program designed to inspire and inform existing and emerging AEC firm leaders in key areas of firm management leadership, financial management, recruiting, marketing, business development, and project management. Join us February 8-9 in Savannah, Georgia. Click here to learn more!

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.