AEC TalentMAX Agenda


Wednesday, May 1

A/E/C Compensation Pre-Conference Workshop (optional)

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM



10:00AM - 4:00 PM

A/E/C Compensation Workshop: Balance and Benchmark for the New Talent Market

jenifer navardThis optional pre-conference workshop gives you the tools and techniques you need to align your firm's salary structure to the current talent market, using the latest A/E/C compensation data, forward-looking metrics, and proven formulas. Your workshop coach is Jenifer Navard, Senior PSMJ Consultant and CFO at multi-disciplinary architecture firm Eskew Dumez Ripple. Jenifer has helped hundreds of A/E/C firms right size their compensation strategy though her A/E/C Compensation Master Class and will compress that powerful multi-session program into one eye-opening day. Stop paying too much, or too little, to find and keep the talent your firm needs to thrive!

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

A/E/C Compensation Workshop and A/E/C TalentMAX Attendee Cocktail Reception

Thursday, May 2

A/E/C TalentMAX Conference Day 1

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Registration and Networking Breakfast

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Opening Keynote Address
Gen Z Expectations vs Reality, and How to Meet in the Middle

Bobby BakshiToday’s A/E/C firm employs a wider range of generations than ever before, and principals and Talent Management professionals face great challenges when bringing on board the first digitally native cohort of new staff. Raised with smartphones and educated online, they are conditioned to have high expectations of brands they are loyal to. This carries into their employer of choice and attrition among GenZ is high, impacting the bottom line of A/E/C firms.

Want to stand out as an “Employer of Choice” to land and keep promising but untested talent?

Let’s start with a deep embrace of the needs of GenZ, the fastest-growing part of the workforce. In his data-packed opening keynote address, workplace alignment expert Bobby Bakshi explains where we are right now, where we’re headed, and the ROI you can expect when you make an intentional mindset shift to differentiate your employer value proposition.

  • Applying key talent management trends and their impact on A/E/C people strategy
  • Meeting GenZ's expectations, and how to balance them with other generations
  • Bridging generational polarization for a positive impact on your business outcomes
  • Understanding the key drivers for a thriving culture at A/E/C firms
  • Building a practical and measurable roadmap of actions toward a thriving culture

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Networking Break

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Concurrent Breakout Session 1A
"Should I Stay or Should I Go?" Developing Trust and Loyalty with Top AEC Talent

Michelle Crenshaw SquareDebra Kaye, President & CEO, V&A Consulting EngineersIn the current talent climate, we know many AEC firm employees are singing that song "Should I stay, or should I go now", and our talent teams, HR teams and Executives are singing "Please don't go".

Join V&A Consulting Engineering's Michelle Crenshaw, HR Manager, and Debra Kaye, CEO & President, to learn their five key pillars of superior organizational dynamics. 

Learn proven methods to develop career loyalty by implementing compensation transparency, committing to diversity, planning career development, and encouraging future thinking. You leave with a 30-day plan to transform your firm's talent retention rate.

Takeaways include:

  • Establishing position pay ranges
  • Developing review processes
  • Communicating performance expectations
  • Identifying gaps in business processes, and prioritizing next steps

How to make total compensation transparency, salary disclosure in job advertisements, provision of comprehensive benefits, and commitment to maintaining pay equity deliver on your talent retention and performance improvement goals.

Whether you are a principal, HR professional, or PM, you will receive actionable ideas to implement at your organization.

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 1B
Push Past the Paystub: How to Communicate Compensation… and Get More Bang for Your Buck!

jenifer navard

Sure, you go to great lengths (and expense!) to make sure your AEC firm’s compensation is competitive and your employees are rewarded for their skills, commitment, and long hours. But if you’re relying on the pay stub to sell the benefits of working for you, and keep your most important contributors from jumping ship, you’re running a risk! In this candid, data-backed session, AEC firm CFO Jenifer Navard shows us how to squeeze more value out of every payroll dollar with an intentional communication strategy that breaks down how much you invest in staff satisfaction and rewards!

We learn how to:

  • Communicate the full value of salary and compensation packages in a competitive environment
  • Comply with salary band disclosure requirements
  • Move from promise to proof on equity
  • Forge a link between your staff’s project contribution and their salary
  • Clarify utilization and what it really means for your staff


11:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Networking Break

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 2A
Align Your AEC Firm's Culture for Growth!

Bob Chapman-1Weston_Megan

Over the last 18 months, AEC platform Trilon has expanded from 1200 to over 4000 employees through organic and acquisition driven growth. In this session, Chief People Officer, Bob Chapman and VP, Talent Acquisition, Megan Weston, will share the best practices Trilon deploys to steward its culture and maintain a “functional family” of companies.

  • Understanding of what culture is and why it matters
  • Strategic Talent Acquisition in a rapidly expanding company
  • Best practices in people and cultural integration
  • Processes and systems that bring culture to life


11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 2B
Jedi Mind Tricks for AEC Talent Pros: The Art of Gaining Buy-In Towards a Common Goal

Sara Harris FSB Architecture Engineering-1In this fun Star-Wars themed breakout session, Sara Harris, Chief Human Resources Officer at FSB Architects & Engineers reveals the her go-to Jedi mind tricks that have proven effective in leading change in organizations across the galaxy. Well, maybe not mind-tricks so much as they are a set of best practices that ring true over and over, and will build trust and transparency as you lead change across your organization.

  • Understand change models and how to evaluate where your organization falls within the change cycle
  • Create a mindset to lead change effectively within your firm.
  • Establish a clear, proactive communication plan to build momentum (and confidence!)
  • Identify and engage teams and stakeholders to maximize participation and buy-in.
  • Confidently lead change efforts and solicit ongoing feedback for continuous improvement.


12:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch with Presentation:
This Just In – Latest Talent Optimization Trends in the A/E Industry

Dave_BursteinFrom the latest employment data to emerging generational shifts in workplace expectations, PSMJ Senior Consultant David Burstein always has the numbers to back up his bold predictions for the AEC industry. 

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 3A
How AEC Employee Engagement and Accountability Go Hand-in-Hand

Don Rheem

Being held accountable is a critical need in human systems where work needs to get done efficiently and with high quality. This isn’t simply an operational concern – it also has a major impact on employee engagement, the overall culture, and a company’s bottom line.

Gallup estimates that the cost of lost productivity from unaccountable and disengaged employees is between $450 and $550 billion per year.

Join leading employee motivation and neuroscientist Don Rheem in this interactive session, as he guides us through the process of holding employees accountable without a negative sting or punitive demeanor.


11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 3B
Could You Be Better at Conflict Resolution... and See Better AEC Talent Retention?

Jonathan Wilson

In architectural and engineering design, conflict among team members, sub consultants, clients, and other stakeholders is inevitable. Disagreements about the approach to a project, friction with clients who keep wanting more for less, and general struggles with everyday collaboration impact your team members’ long-term effectiveness and their morale. The result? Scope creep gets creepier. Clients become more frustrated. Team members may end up “quiet quitting” or just quitting altogether. So, how can we as leaders become better at conflict resolution? The problem isn’t the inevitable conflict, the problem is that our usual approach to resolving conflict doesn’t work. PSMJ senior consultant Jonathan Wilson shares a simple framework and concrete tactics that will help you end the conflict and restore productivity.

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Networking Break

2:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 4A
Is your AEC Firm's Hiring Process Broken and Costing you Money?

Barbara Bruno color

If you have not updated your hiring process in the past 12 months, chances are it is broken, not effective and costing you money. It’s time to stop blaming the lack of top talent on your inability to hire the BEST talent. A lack of consistency, upgrades to entice hard to find Architectural and Engineering Talent and delays, are symptoms of a broken process. AEC TalentMAX top speaker and leading recruiting practices consultant Barbara Bruno will share cornerstones of the BEST Hiring Processes that will fill your open requisitions faster with top talent.


11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 4B
More than Money: Recruit and Retain AEC Talent With the Perfect Development Mix

Mariah Meyer-1

Throwing more compensation and perks at employees, and increasing your new-hire offers, is an expensive way to ramp up and retain headcounts in the face of ongoing demand for A/E services. What if there was a better, more efficient way? Mariah Meyer, President & CEO at BRR Architecture, an 11-office, 300+ employee firm, explains how its investment in training and professional development is supporting growth as demand for highly productive architects and engineers exceeds supply.

You’ll get step-by-step guidance on creating a culture of continual improvement and professional development an alternative recruitment and retention through a careful blend of intentional initiatives:

  • Creating unified position descriptions
  • Developing Personalized Career Development Plans
  • Future Principal Leadership Training
  • LMS with individualized training tracs
  • 'Insider Series' for interns and new grads
  • 'Strategies for Professional Development' series for all new hires

After this session, you'll have new ideas that you can take back to your firm to invest in employee development, and master talent recruiting and retention without creating long-term financial liabilities and salary bubbles.

3:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Networking Break

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Day 1 Closing Keynote Address
And…NOW What? 10 talent management takeaways from an AEC HR team pushing through unprecedented upheaval

HEADSHOT - Peterson, Joel

As far back as the 1900’s, when the first personnel management department was created at the National Cash Register Company, human resources has been a complex yet essential component of a business.  World events, however social or political, do not change the need for a company to recruit, retain, develop and reward employees but they do require businesses to be nimble if they are to adapt and respond to changing times.  Nothing proved that more than being the HR leader of a global design firm navigating internal and external disruptive forces.  Join us for this engaging and candid keynote as Joel shares 10 talent "Ah ha!" realizations born of managing talent through unprecedented upheaval. 

Joel Peterson, SHRM-SCP is Global Director of Human Resources, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, P.C., a 700-strong, New York-based architecture firm . His 15 years of progressive HR and Operations experience within the A/E/C  industry has given him a true understanding and appreciation for the intricacies of running a business. Hire, support, and lead your people well and your business will thrive and succeed. Joel enjoys connecting people to each other through experiences so they can be inspired to achieve their own personal level of greatness at home, at work, and out in the world. 

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Cocktail and Networking Reception

Friday, May 3

A/E/C TalentMAX Conference Day 2

8:00 AM - 8:45 AM

Networking Breakfast

8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Day 2 Opening Remarks

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Day 2 Opening Keynote Address
Psychological Safety: The Key to Individual, Team and Organizational Success

Don RheemA/E/C leaders are beginning to realize that prioritizing psychological safety is critical path if their most talented employees are to not only perform well, but feel connected to the organization and want to stay, despite poaching attempts from other firms. But what does that mean in the real world, and what can we as A/E/C talent managers do to build a safer workplace while holding true to productivity and accountability standards?

Practical, science-based approaches to creating psychological safety are hard to find. Most organizational leaders admit they need more specific guidance to implement systemic shifts that meet these new employee needs. 

In his keynote address, highly sought-after researcher Don Rheem provides powerful, actionable steps to help leaders create a psychologically safe environment in their own organizations. 

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Networking Break

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Concurrent Breakout Session 5A
The AEC Org Puzzle: Getting all the Right Pieces in Place

Sara Harris FSB Architecture Engineering-1

Building an effective firm strategy and complementary structure that fits in our post-Covid era can be a daunting endeavor! However, when you find those missing pieces and bring it all together, there is an opportunity to uncover some of the best talents and outcomes you may have only imagined for your firm.  In this eye-openign case study from a rapidly changing AEC firm, you learn how to establish an organizational structure that empowers all the “people best practices” we read about on LinkedIn everyday and drive recruitment and retention efforts that can result in record growth during seasons of change and transitions. Sara Harris of FSB Architecture and Engineers makes sure we:

  • Understand how to effectively evaluate your organization’s “current state” using SCOT analysis tools.
  • Outline the results of evaluations and analysis to create a roadmap forward
  • Engage stakeholders in proposed options, collaborate and “read the room” to understand appetite for change
  • Establish a structure that solves major challenges and empowers people
  • Proactively share your success and culture changes to maximize recruitment & retention!

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 5B
Winning in Today's Highly Competitive AEC Talent Acquisition Environment

Shaun Leeper

Many factors are making your talent acquisition efforts more challenging than ever. Hear AECIQ Principal Shaun Leeper cover the hot button topics, and what you can do about them, from salary spikes to the need to recruit and retain diverse talent, to leveraging data and analytics to inform hiring decisions that can enhance candidate experience and overall effectiveness of talent acquisition strategies. You learn how to:

  • Develop strategies for implementing data-driven hiring practices within your organization.
  • Apply data analytics to enhance candidate experience throughout the recruitment process.
  • Select the right strategies to maximize your firm's talent retention rate.

11:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Networking Break

11:45 AM - 12:45 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 6A
Build a Diverse AEC Firm and Reap the Recruiting Rewards!


Designing and building environments that are inclusive and support the needs of all people is a core value of many AEC companies. The questions then arise: how can firms apply these same human-centered values to promote diversity in their workforces and cultures? And once you build a diverse workforce, how do you support and retain them? Statistics reveal a stark underrepresentation of women, minorities, and people with disabilities in the AEC industry. Approximately 85% of AEC firms identify recruitment of new staff as one of their most significant challenges. In addition, a recent study highlighted that nearly 70% of AEC employees who left a company attributed their departure to a poor company culture.

Erica Larson, Vice President of Pope Design Group, and Sam Buehler, CFO/Principal of Pope Design Group, will delve into the advantages of fostering a diverse workplace. They will provide attendees with key action items for advancing diversity and inclusion within their own workforces. AEC companies can implement diversity recruiting strategies to broaden their candidate pools and put human-centered values into action. Additionally, attendees will discover ways to celebrate and promote diversity as well as explore the impact of company culture on employee engagement, retention, and branding. Key takeaways: 

  • The strategic importance of diversity for both improved business outcomes and enhanced design.
  • Recruitment strategies you can implement today to cultivate a diverse workforce & broaden your candidate pool.
  • How to build a culture that supports diversity and inclusivity within your organization.
  • Methods to measure the success of your diversity efforts.
  • Ways to celebrate and promote your diversity brand.

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Concurrent Breakout Session 6B
AEC New Hire Accelerator: How to Get More Green Out of Your Greenest Recruits


If you’ve ever hired a new employee right out of college or grad school, you’ve probably been shocked by what they don’t know about how your AEC firm turns a profit, how to contribute in a professional setting, and where they can add value by taking initiative.

PSMJ’s Bill Hinsley has trained thousands of new architecture and engineering professionals and will share 6 onboarding techniques that speed your Return on Investment in your newest employees. 

Bill gives us easy-to-implement practices for clearly and permanently communicating:

  • The math behind how your A/E/C firm operates and makes money.
  • The KEY role entry-level employees play in client satisfaction and winning new work.
  • Your expectations for dealing with clients, to avoid huge liabilities and loss of confidence in your expertise
  • What Project Managers need from new hires, and how to exceed expectations
  • The project lifecycle (from proposal to closeout) and everyone’s role in it.
  • How to add the most value and make the best decisions when on the receiving end of task delegation.

12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Lunch and Closing Keynote Presentation

Barbara Bruno colorYou transform people’s lives for the better every day as you help individuals advance in their career. You also help your Hiring Managers and Company attain goals and objectives. But what about you? How do you deliver aggressive hiring KPIs when the pressure is ON, when you are often simultaneously dealing with unrealistic expectations, deadlines, and conflicting top priorities? You play a significant role in the success of your company and during this session you will learn 7 specific strategies to be at your BEST when the pressure is ON!

2:30 PM

A/E/C TalentMAX Concludes