Tag Archives: Strategic Planning April 2022

Engineering Project Manager – GeoStructures and Ground Improvement

Salary Range $85,000 – $110,00/year

Looking for a different approach to geotechnical engineering?  Maybe a smaller company, owned and managed by engineers, whose projects have adequate budget for rigorous analyses and old-school collaboration?  We have a unique position available managing our extremely capable team and amplifying our success.

Atlas Geotechnical solves complex foundation and excavation problems on high value infrastructure projects in North American and out through the western Pacific. Current engagements include ground improvement behind a wharf at Naval Base Guam, tank foundation design near Fullerton TX, temporary cut walls for widening I-405 near Seattle, and shoring for 7 excavations at a WWTP expansion near St. Louis. This September we start work expanding the Tinian airfield. More about us here:  https://atlasgeotechnical.com

Our best customers are heavy civil and marine contractors with strong in-house technical capabilities. We do about 90% repeat business; we’ve not had to write a competitive proposal in years. We build relationships and achieve success by delivering very high quality advanced engineering designs on time and within budget.

How Atlas is different:

  • We are a boutique consultancy with an obvious commitment to developing each team member’s professional skills. You’ll pack tools into your toolbox faster than you ever thought possible.
  • Atlas designs solutions for construction problems. All of our projects get built.
  • We perform old school “muddy boots” engineering. We go to our project sites, witness the challenges firsthand, and brainstorm with our customers. There are opportunities to travel to exotic job sites for focused efforts.
  • Atlas’s entire workforce is geographically dispersed. Our employees choose where they want to live and work. Right now we’re working from Santa Cruz, Portland, Denver, and St. Louis.
  • We buy the tools that engineers need to be successful. New computers and advanced software are tools that we use to succeed, not a budget problem.

How the Engineering Project Manager job works:

  • You will be involved in projects from the incoming work request through the final invoice. 
  • You have direct access to the Chief Engineer. He and his team succeed when you have the support and resources that you need to provide effective management. We’re a close-knit team who work together to solve sticky problems.
  • Workflow management is the principal focus. You’ll develop project schedules, assign and oversee analyses, assemble deliverables, and ensure that we meet our customer’s needs.
  • Contract management is another important area of responsibility. Correct invoices delivered promptly are the backbone of Atlas’s strong financial performance. We’ll rely on you to oversee invoicing and manage interactions with our customer’s accounts payable departments.
  • We have decades-long relationships with our clients. Many of them are our good friends. The engineering project manager is a high-visibility role and will work to strengthen and further develop these relationships.

You:

  • Understand engineering principles: the way that engineers use mathematics to predict stability and deformation in the built environment.
  • Are able to break down complex engineering projects into actionable, trackable elements each defined by a scope, a schedule, and a budget.
  • Know how infrastructure projects are designed, contracted, and built so that our customer’s requests make sense and fit into context.
  • Relish finding solutions, equipment, and materials for unusual field engineering situations.
  • Feel comfortable working in a distributed team with people in multiple time zones.
  • Have a clear, clean communication style that helps keep everyone included in the process and moves projects forward.
  • Live and work in the United States.

The day-to-day responsibilities include:

  • Assess incoming work requests and work with the Atlas team to generate statements of work, timelines, and budgets.
  • Be the point of contact so that there is a consistent orchestration of the project from start to finish.
    • Participate in the scoping and estimating process that secures the work.
    • Establish clear expectations around timelines and ability to deliver high-quality designs.
    • Prioritize tasks with an eye to the difference between active construction projects and jobs that have less schedule risk.
    • Continue to set and amend expectations with the client and project partners as the team responds to real world elements of our projects.
  • Assign work to the engineers according to their availability and ensure that they have the information, tools, and time needed to complete their assignments.
  • Work with the Atlas team to evolve and improve our workflow processes.
    • Assess the resources needed to complete each assignment on time and within budget.
    • Work with the assigned project engineer to break each project into discrete tasks with timelines that allow for good work, quality assurance, and timely completion.
    • Reallocate resources and manage client expectations as high-priority requests arrive to compete with existing commitments.
    • Maintain awareness of our backlog and commitments and communicate that to the Atlas team and to our customers.
  • Oversee Atlas’s internal quality program
    • Schedule and track internal computations checks and reviews
    • Coordinate our responses to comments generated by our customers and review agencies.
    • Identify areas that could be improved and assess the resources needed to make those improvements
  • Oversee profitability:
    • Participate in the scoping and estimating process
    • Track progress and request budget changes where appropriate.
    • Analyze profitability by client and by project type to inform future cost estimating
    • Track payment status and resolve problems that are causing delays.

Perks and Benefits

  • Geographic flexibility. Work from home or from an Atlas-paid coworking space
  • Competitive wages
  • Quarterly bonuses based on company performance
  • 12 annual paid holidays. (We close the shop for the last week of the year.)
  • Two weeks paid vacation
  • 401k program with significant annual profit sharing contribution
  • Medical insurance 50% company paid

To Apply

Atlas Geotechnical is a small (6-person) tight-knit group managed by the company founder. Our interview and hiring process is informal but also somewhat rigorous. Start by emailing a cover letter and your resume to jobs@atlasgeotechnical.com. We reply to every application that includes a tailored cover letter. If your background and interests seem like a good fit, we’ll arrange one or more video interviews. A 40-hour (paid) work sample is usually the last step in our hiring process.

It's a new yearFirst of all: Happy new year, everyone. I love that last Calvin & Hobbes strip and find some way to share it at this time each year.  The new year really does offer a fresh start in a magical world, and I hope that with the recovering economy we all have a chance to go exploring in 2014.

Secondly, here’s an exhortation about New Year’s Resolutions:  While the intention is good, the success rate on resolutions is only 8%. Reasonable people like engineers will use more effective change management methods.  Make plans, not resolutions, if you really  want to improve your practice.

Although most people call them “drawings” instead of “plans,” there’s a reason that costly infrastructure is built using a detailed set of plans that describes all of the pieces that need to be brought to a site and assembled in a particular order. Without detailed plans, no amount of wishing will create new infrastructure that meets some pressing need.

Treat your business the same way. Identify your requirements, assess your budget, specify the pieces that need to be assembled, and make a schedule with milestones for delivering the new program. Only with a detailed plan can you reliably effect change in your practice that achieves your goals.

Atlas Geotechnical, in addition to our ever-evolving 5-year strategic plan, will execute two focused strategic plans in 2014. One involves earning repeat business from a very large, well respected infrastructure design firm. Their projects have complex foundation problems at a rate and severity higher than other firms, which makes them an ideal match for Atlas’ approach to foundation engineering.

The other strategic plan is more speculative. We will attempt to build a 3-firm alliance to pursue means-and-methods engineering projects. The team members are all willing, but we’re not yet sure about the market size and the real potential for profitability.  The first step in that plan is to confirm that the plan really is a worthwhile use of scarce resources.

Be assured that by the middle of January both of these initiatives will have detailed plans that include resource requirements, milestones, and performance expectations.  Only with this level of planning can we reliably convert “I wish I had more cool projects” into “Wow, look at our marvelous backlog of cool projects.”  I hope that each of you, by the end of this new year, can say the same.

 

Jackpot

Success comes at surprising times.

Here at Atlas GT we’re huge advocates for strategic planning. Invest extra effort into pursuing clients who have interesting and important problems and your practice will grow in an interesting and important direction. It’s a habit that we learned at GeoEngineers back in the ’90’s  that has served us, and GeoEngineers, very well. Combining their commitment to strategic growth with ours has just yielded extraordinary success, which is the subject of this post.

So our old friend and collaborator Trevor Hoyles is the Pipeline Group Manager at GeoEngineers.  Recently, he and I both were pondering strategic approaches to a large gas transmission project here in the Bay Area.  Atlas was too small but temperamentally suited and proximal; GeoEngineers is arguably the leading HDD design firm in the US but lacks a Bay Area presence. We agreed to team up, present the GeoEngineers brand, and see if we could get some work. Boy did we ever.

So here’s the problem with Strategic Plans: The point of strategic investment is to disrupt the existing paradigm, make a dramatic change, grow rapidly.  You never can know with certainty that the plan will work, but you hope for success, you strive for it, you commit yourself to the plan and by extension to the people and companies also investing in the plan.  So when success does come, whether soon or late, you are absolutely committed to acting on it.

I think that Trevor and I were both thinking in terms of “if” we’re successful, when we should have been planning actively for “when” our plan bears fruit.  “If we win this big project I’ll start looking for collaborators.”  “If we win I’ll need to be careful not to take on any low-value projects that would crowd my availability.”   I don’t know what GeoEngineers was planning, but I do know that they just won the geohazards and crossings work on the Pacific Connector Gas Transmission project in southern Oregon. They’re busier than ever.

So when one of GeoEngineers’ longstanding collaborators brought them in on a fast-moving component of this big strategic project, of course they agreed and staffed it, and of course I cleared my calendar and got out to the site right away. That assignment went well, as you’d expect given the team involved, and the Customer wants more of the same.  Suddenly we’re successful to a degree that’s actually causing some discomfort. Of course we’re committed to success, but I’m learning that Atlas could have been better prepared for success.

That’s the lesson that I’d like to share with you all: expect to succeed. When we set our minds to something, and assemble a great team, more than likely we’ll succeed at it.  We need to be prepared to succeed, pro-active instead of re-active.  And that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend; making a better plan for handing the success that we had hoped for, but not necessarily planned for, when we established this part of our strategic plan.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and drop me a line if you’ve got solid pipeline expertise and like the thought of wintering in California.