AWWA / WEF Young Professionals Summit

Three of our staff engineers, Haley Bishop, Ryan Holcomb and Eleni Brick, recently attended the Joint AWWA WEF YP Summit in Nashville, TN. In the fall, a contest was created to get young professionals more involved with the incentive to have your name put into a drawing for the Summit. There were three requirements to entering the contest: 35 years old or younger, must be a member or join WEF or AWWA and complete one of three tasks. One of the three tasks that needed to be completed were: a. Prepare and submit an abstract to WEFTEC or ACE Conference, b. submit a project or person for one of the Thrasher Awards, c. prepare and submit an essay regarding leadership or a technical topic and present it to the team. Read first-hand about their experience below:

“Nashville was awesome! They chose a very vibrant city to host this event. In a profession where we are predominately considered the young pups, it was interesting to be among other young people and hear them have the same questions and struggles that we do. Among the 230+ people in attendance, there were no two people that we came across that had the same job title. This conference had an umbrella that covered many diverse groups and professions but we all had one thing in common: water.

The first half of the conference focused more on management and leadership. All the tables had a seasoned professional to lead the conversations who were able to give us good insight. We had discussions on how to deal with other people in the office, whether they were above or below us. We talked about how to be a leader to the people around you, regardless of your title, and how to listen to everyone for interpretation. We understand we need to be approachable and accepting of constructive criticism and on the reverse, be able to give criticism and explanations on how to do things when we are mentoring others. We had conversations about project management and how to delegate work and trust your coworkers to do said work. Other bases covered were emotional awareness and prioritizing our well-being.

The second half of the day was dedicated to communicating the values of water. We had multiple speakers throughout this half. One of them was Vicky Bhogal, a Community Engagement Manager from Water for People. She informed us of the water crisis across the globe and how people don’t have access to water or sanitation facilities. This company gets with locals and the local government to set in place the steps to bring these necessities to communities. Another speaker, Melissa Elliott, spoke more on the access to utilities in the US. Her speech was geared toward us getting involved in our cities and states. These were just a few of the amazing speakers we heard. The bottom line of all their talks was that we should be concerned about shaping the future of quality water.

While in town we also got to view the city and all it had to offer. We toured a local distillery and learned the history of how it came to be. We got to see where they make and bottle bourbon. We also made our way downtown to Broadway to different bars and stages to see various up-and-coming artists. Overall a great trip!”

Words by: Haley Bishop, Pictures by: Eleni Brick