Meet Randall S. 'Randy' Over, 2014 ASCE President
Presidential Inaugural Address
As delivered Oct. 11, 2013, at ASCE's Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC
First, thank you all for electing me as your 2014 President. I am truly honored.
Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." My fellow civil engineers and guests, if I had to choose a theme to sum up my life, that philosophy would explain it. I believe that to be successful in life, service to others is what really matters. What we all give through our involvement in ASCE is service to the profession. Work on committees, outreach activities, seminars and conferences are evidence of our desire to give back to our community of civil engineers.
For most of us, the message of service is internalized early on. For me, it may have been inherited in my genes – passed down from the long line of civil engineers in my family. For others of you, it may have begun when you were students; when you recognized a strong feeling in your heart and then, in your outward public actions, as you became involved in our civil engineering community.
And as we grow, both individually and professionally, we realize that along with our profession comes a duty, a responsibility, an honor, and, yes, a joy to serve; to give back and make the path better for those who come after us. Civil wngineers - and ASCE members in particular - really believe we can make a difference in the lives of other people and the communities we serve.
So this concept of service – taking to heart the “calling” of our profession – is essential. What I've found over the past year – and really, for many years prior – is the ever-present feeling that we as a profession (and as a professional society) are doing "good"; that beyond the basic need to make a decent wage, it is why we chose to become civil engineers.
Many of us, myself included, could have chosen a different path. In my case, it started with two years in "architorture" before I saw the "light" of coming "home" to civil engineering. Others of us could have been scientists, medical doctors, lawyers or engineers of other disciplines. We may or may not have realized it years ago when we chose to become civil engineers, but civil engineering is about service to people and our communities - it's what sets our profession apart from many others.
And now, I'd like to talk about what I see as the future of civil engineering in terms of the "what," the "how" and the "who."
As a professional society, ASCE has spent considerable time and talent to carefully and fully develop the future vision of civil engineering. I believe you may have heard of The Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025. The vision we strive for is captured in this quote "entrusted by society to create a sustainable world and enhance the global quality of life."
For several years now, ASCE has preached the "gospel" of Vision 2025 – we truly believe it is the right path for the future of our profession. It will increase our ability to do good - strengthen our profession and more importantly the communities that we serve. The Vision is the "what." But, as you know, without a plan, a vision is just a dream. How do we get there? The plan is outlined in a document called Achieving the Vision for Civil Engineering in 2025, a Roadmap for the Profession. It defines the goals and tactics we need to take as a profession to achieve the Vision. The Roadmap is the "how."
And what about the "who?" I started thinking about that question before I ran for office. During the campaign, I stated that my focus would be on the future leadership of ASCE; the women and men who lead our profession now and in the coming decades; the people who will help us to achieve the goals outlined in Vision 2025. In short, the "who" is our membership and our leadership – it's you and me. We are the ones that must prepare our profession for the future by inspiring the leadership of tomorrow. That means going beyond that initial pull in our hearts and actively taking a role in attracting, developing and retaining the next generation of ASCE leadership.
Today, we stand at a unique point in history. It has been noted that there are four generations in our workforce today; this phenomena has never happened before. The passing of the torch is what lies ahead. I am a member of the baby boomer generation – the largest in our nation’s history. I can see by looking out at the audience that many "boomers" are here today. As large numbers of our generation leave the workforce simultaneously, we need to make sure that those who come behind us are prepared to take over. This significant generational shift requires our steadfast focus on future leadership if we want to ensure that both ASCE and the profession continue to grow and increase our influence.
So how do we do that? It starts with the current leadership – which means I am going to have to walk the talk and lead the way as President. I believe that to accomplish this, we'll need to focus on the following areas:
We need to ...
- Communicate leadership opportunities and paths for service throughout the Society. These need to be clearly defined and communicated.
- Enhance and expand leadership training to grow our future leaders and to help them grow in their own careers. This is leadership training of the quality and reputation of our technical training.
- Foster programs that attract and retain life members to continue their contribution and to serve as mentors to future leaders.
- Support and grow programs that engage our membership in the global practice of civil engineering and grow future globally-focused leadership.
As civil engineers, we share a global responsibility to grow and serve the profession no matter what country we call home, project or community location. We need programs that share leadership best practices which reflect the cultural sensitivities of other markets and exchange ideas that advance the global practice of civil engineering together.
The beauty, increasing opportunities, and really the strength of these evolving changes to our profession is the common bond of civil engineers around the globe – our shared desire to serve our communities and our profession. A commitment to provide service is our foundation, our history and our future.
And speaking from my own experience from a multi-generational family of civil engineers – there is great satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment in “doing good” as well as the great personal benefit of making lifelong friends with our members.
So that's why over the next year, I plan to focus my efforts on the "who" – that's you and me as we strive to inspire, attract and develop the future leadership of ASCE. Together, we will become a global civil engineering community that focuses on making the world a better place for all of our citizens - and exemplifying the ideal of service.
And finally, I'd like to close with a quote from a more recent world leader and one of my favorite presidents. As you now know, our oldest daughter is currently attending Texas A&M. On a visit there, our family toured the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. Hung on the wall there is the following quote from the 41st U.S. President – "Any definition of a successful life must include serving others."
I ask that you each reach into your heart and recommit to serving our profession. Help us to influence our profession, ASCE and the world community that we serve. In your quest for a successful life, recommit to the joy of service to our profession; our members and our communities. Thank you.