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Young Designers Professional Development Institute (YDPDI)

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YDPDI participants and peers in the AGC’s Young Contractors program, connect with Owner/Clients from higher education, health care, government and corporate real estate at MIT in the “What Clients Really Want” YDPDI session.

Image courtesy of Aminah McNulty.

Winner, AIA Emerging Professionals Program of the Year Award

The BSA’s Young Designers Professional Development Institute (YDPDI) builds the core competencies young designers need most now to improve performance, add value and increase versatility in your firm. Topics include Building High-Performing Teams, Managing Finances, Improving Negotiating Skills, HR Issues and Opportunities, Presentation Skills, Marketing and Business Development, Writing Skills, Legal and Ethical Issues Now, Leading Change and From Manager to Leader.

12 Insightful, Pragmatic Seminars to Accelerate Your Career Development

YDPDI enables you to:

  • Take on new tasks and responsibilities
  • Improve job performance and productivity
  • Learn the most current professional best practices
  • Win work with existing and new clients
  • Add greater value in your firm

The YDPDI program features:

  • Industry leader instructors
  • Hands-on learning methods
  • Six joint sessions with AGC Young Contractors
  • Sessions scheduled for your convenience, 2:00–5:00 PM
  • Immediate and lasting results

“Our investment over many years in training our young staff in the BSA’s Young Designers Professional Development Institute has contributed significantly to the firm’s success. I heartily encourage any firm that is not yet investing resources in this area to do so."
—Jim Collins, Senior Principal, Payette

Enrollment information

The first 2020 YDPDI session begins January 29, 2020, and enrollment is now open. Please complete a copy of this registration form for each registrant. Scan/email to Li Lam at [email protected], or mail to YDPDI, c/o BSA, 290 Congress Street, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02210.

Download a registration form available here.

For information about program content, contact William Ronco, program director at [email protected] or 617-686-5005.


2020 YDPDI Workshop Schedule

Seminars run 2:00–5:00 PM, with light supper, host organization tour, informal networking afterwards.

PLANNING YOUR BEST DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION CAREER
January 29, 2020
William Ronco, Gathering Pace; Toni Loiacano, Cannon Design; Marc Truant, MIT

Location: Payette, Boston
Our industry’s 6 career challenges and opportunities. Clarifying and fully implementing your career goals. Identifying, building on your real strengths and addressing your weaknesses.

BUILDING HIGH-PERFORMING TEAMS
February 11, 2020
Colin Milberg, ASKM and Associates; Stavroula Birmbas, Tervacorp

Location: Columbia Construction, North Reading
Anticipating, addressing predictable team problems. The wisdom of the team v. groupthink. Improving everyday meetings results and follow through. Fully, actively engaging every team member.

IMPROVING YOUR NEGOTIATIONS SKILLS
February 27, 2020
Robert Ferguson, Esq., Hinckley Allen; Matthew Brett, Mass General Hospital

Location: Hinckley Allen, Boston
Recognizing your negotiations style, strengths, weaknesses. Getting beyond Yes. “Never split the difference?” Negotiating to “win” vs. negotiating for synergy.

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS HR ISSUES, OPPORTUNITIES
March 10, 2020
Jess Smith, Bergmeyer; Shelley Kolesar, HR Consultant; Diana Hasan, CE Floyd; Kathy Freitas, Bond

​Location: Bond Construction, Medford
HR knowledge young professionals must have: legal rights, boundaries, vulnerabilities. Why, when and how to ask for raise. Getting the most from your performance appraisal.

EFFECTIVE, COMFORTABLE MARKETING/BD
March 25, 2020
Jess Smith, Bergmeyer ; Shelley Kolesar, HR Consultant; Diana Hasan, CE Floyd; Kathy Freitas, Bond

Location: Elaine Construction, Newton
Why, how to get started with marketing and BD. Getting comfortable with sales tasks. Selling without networking: alternative marketing methods and skills.

IMPROVING WRITING SKILLS
April 7, 2020
William Ronco, Gathering Pace; Chris Floyd, CE Floyd

Location: Isgenuity, Boston
Increasing email skills, impact, efficiency, results. Writing reports more clearly, logically, quickly, thoughtfully. Blogs and print, chronicling projects, tasks, experiences.

LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES NOW
April 23, 2020
Timothy Grobleski, Cannon Design; Charles Antone, Bldg Enclosure Science

Location: Commodore Builders, Waltham
The top 10 issues that trigger legal and ethical problems for young professionals. Liability and Risk. Negotiating a contract. What happens when you go to court.

WHAT CLIENTS REALLY WANT
May 5, 2020
Maggie O’Toole, LabCentral; Jonathan Hayward, Partners Health Care; Ralph DeFlorio, Harvard University; Chris Cronin, Town of Andover

Location: LabCentral, Cambridge
How contractors and architects misunderstand, frustrate clients. What keeps clients up at night. Responding to client needs in different market sectors. How to increase client satisfaction and repeat business.

MANAGING FINANCES
June 4, 2020
Scott Lerner, Consigli Construction; Mark Paronich, Delphi Construction; David Sullivan, DGC Accountants

Location: Consigli Construction, Milford, MA
Increasing project cost controls and profit. Spotting, addressing project financial problems quickly. Understanding company finances, your role and impact as a young contractor.

IMPROVING PRESENTATION SKILLS
July 22, 2020
Toni Loiacano, Cannon Design; Kathy McMahon, National Building

Location: Bond Brothers, Medford
Increasing skills, comfort, confidence and influence. Starting with Why. Presenting more persuasively, easily. Telling a compelling story. Presenting less, discussing more. Improving Q & A for full engagement.

LEADING CHANGE
September 23, 2020
Jason Jewhurst, Bruner Cott; Siggy Pfendler, Columbia Construction ; Shawn Guertin, TG Gallagher

Location: TG Gallagher Fab Shop, Andover
Building Forensics. The current state of Lean. Real continuous improvement. Extreme fabrication. 7 reasons why people resist change. How, when and why to initiate change in your own role.

FROM MANAGER TO LEADER
October 27, 2020
Roger Goldstein, Goody/Clancy; Matthew Brett, Partners Health Care; Marc Truant, MIT

Location: Shepley, Boston
Defining, achieving the next level in your career growth. Getting, using a 360 survey of your own effectiveness. Building both strategic and collaborative leadership competencies. Identifying and improving key leadership behaviors.


Program Costs, Benchmarks, ROI

The $3,100 fee for the 12-month program is an excellent and small investment for any firm to make in its employees and in its future:

  • Cost of conventional two-day management seminars = $2,100, much more per session for a “canned” program that lacks the sustained continuity and networking YDPDI provides.
  • The cost to a firm of turnover, often triggered by frustration with career development, is typically 1.5 times the person’s annual salary.
  • The cost to a firm of diminished productivity resulting from lack of skills = ?????

Benefits / Outcomes For Participants

Training and development are intangible but they can produce very tangible results. Participants’ outcomes from participating in the program include:

  • Improved ability to add value in their firms
  • Increased skills taking on new, challenging tasks
  • Increased performance in areas that matter most for the firm’s performance
  • Improved ability to develop meaningful relationships with clients
  • Increased performance in marketing, business development and networking
  • Development of essential skills e.g. communicating, writing, presenting, managing projects, managing finances, marketing, managing CA and CD, etc.
  • Acquisition of perspective resulting from interaction with peers from other firms, instructors, and interaction with contractors in the Young Contractors program
  • Increased focus, job satisfaction and motivation resulting from all the above

Benefits / Outcomes For Sponsoring Firms

Beyond the individual participants, it is also quite possible for sponsoring firms to benefit as organizations from participating in the program:

  • Improved retention and development of key talent
  • Increased marketing and business development activity and success
  • Improved morale and firm spirit resulting from clear demonstration of the firm’s commitment to professional development for young designers
  • Increased understanding and improved working relationships across levels, departments and groups in the firm
  • Acquisition of current ideas and fresh perspective on best practices being developed by other firms and industry experts participating in the program
  • Improved employee alignment with the firm’s strategic plan
  • Raised expectations for job performance and productivity from program participants
  • Use of the program to strengthen the firm’s efforts at mentoring and coaching between senior managers and younger designers
  • Recognition of the firm as an Excellent Employer

What’s YDPDI Really Like?

Young professionals encounter a skills gap several years after they begin their design career: their job responsibilities shift to include many more tasks that involve communications. YDPDI fills this gap, and more. Each monthly YDPDI seminar builds understanding and ability in young designers’ most important communications and management competencies. Participants build both essential skills and relationships with each other. YDPDI provides opportunities to explore alternative paths for professional development and insights to build a highly satisfying career.

"One of the greatest benefits of YDPDI for our firm’s participants is the opportunity to observe and learn from other firms. The architecture community can sometimes be somewhat closed. Interacting with their peers from other companies gives our employees great perspective on things we do well, as well as on things that we can do better. YDPDI also provides them with an outlet for ideas, frustrations and problem- solving in a neutral, supportive environment."
—Carol Gillen, Partner, Sierra Architects

"I have heard members of the profession suggest that they would love to do more to support their young designers, but they simply do not have the resources. I think if they step back and look more holistically at their practice and the overall state of the industry, they would realize that they cannot afford not to be involved in the effort.Our investment over many years in training our young staff in the BSA’s Young Designers Professional Development Institute has contributed significantly to the firm’s success. I heartily encourage any firm that is not yet investing resources in this area to do so."
—Jim Collins, Senior Principal, Payette

"When I started YDPDI I was acutely aware of the information gap at this phase in my career. I was managing projects and people without any formal management training. YDPDI helps to bridge this gap with classes focused on relevant topics within the design industry. The monthly class format and relaxed atmosphere foster an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and sharing their experiences. As a result of this course I have become a better writer, leader and communicator. Most importantly, I have noticed the positive impact of these improved skills in my career. This course is an excellent resource for young designers looking to move forward in their career."
—Jen Taylor, Senior Designer / Manager, Stantec

"My favorite part of YDPDI was having a forum in which to meet colleagues in the engineering and construction industries. Open, friendly communication between the parties that comprise the AEC industry is key to successful building, and YDPDI sets the stage for just that. Bill thoughtfully organized our sessions, fostering meaningful dialogue between industries and mutual understanding of our various points of view. One example of this was using the Myers-Briggs test as a lens through which to understand our own leadership styles. Working with the contractors and engineers, we learned how to adapt our own leadership styles to different situations. This helped us analyze how our unique skills and qualities as leaders influence teamwork and the overall communication process. In addition to learning about the interpersonal skills associated with leadership, we studied financial management, negotiation and IDP. By pushing us to work through personal and work-related challenges, YDPDI strengthened our effectiveness as leaders."
—Jenny Ratner, Architect, Safdie Architects

YDPDI First-Person Blog

Describing her personal learning experience, recent YDPDI participant Aminah McNulty, a landscape architect, wrote an excellent blog. Some excerpts:

From the What Clients Really Want session:

“Our instructors Kim Plummer, Partners Health Care/MGH; Emma Corbalan, MIT; Chris Cronin, Town of Andover; and Ralph DeFlorio, Harvard University spanned a range of experiences. This session revolved around targeted questions to probe into the minds of these clients and hear their genuine account of the receiving end of A/E/C services.

From the Improving Writing Skills session:

“I found this session incredibly empowering. This summer, I was asked to create a webinar for a local organization. Countless hours of perfectionism, procrastination and self - sabotage were swept off the table as I was able to draft an outline in ten minutes.”

From the Improving Negotiating Skills session:

“My key takeaways are: listen, find shared goals, understand the other side, know your facts, admit fault and reach a common ground. These tools will no doubt prove useful and effective as I hone my skills as a mediator, persuader and negotiator.”

Here is a link to the complete blog, which also includes terrific pictures: gatheringpace.com

About YDPI Director William Ronco, Ph.D.

President of Gathering Pace, Inc., William Ronco founded YDPDI 17 years ago. He directs the program, collaborating with the Boston Society for Architecture. Dr. Ronco also founded and directs the Young Contractors Professional Institute in collaboration with the Massachusetts Associated General Contractors. Dr. Ronco consults on strategy, leadership and partnering with design, engineering, owner/client, construction, and biotech and science organizations.

He is author of The Partnering Solution (Career Press) and Partnering Manual For Design and Construction (McGraw-Hill). A former professor in Northeastern University’s MBA program, Dr. Ronco earned his B.A. at Rutgers University, his Ed.M. at Harvard and his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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