Standing Out as a Professional

by Ben Gries, PE, LEED AP

In an engineering firm, professionalism is key to earning the trust of clients. Professional engineers are hired because of a distinct skillset earned through years of education and experience. Professional engineering firms provide skills and consulting services, and clients trust them for advice and guidance. Often, professional engineers are advising clients on decisions that cost thousands, and sometimes millions, of dollars. That is an enormous amount of trust and must be taken very seriously.

Trust is built through demonstration of professional behavior. There is a saying, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” Paying attention to the little things completed every day help earn trust. Being a professional means being polite, engaging, interested, prompt, organized, and competent. These attributes sound simple, but they can easily be taken for granted in the today’s fast-paced society. Whether we agree or not, the way we dress, behave, speak on the phone or in meetings and our promptness and punctuality all contribute to the impression we are making on each other and on our clients.

Part of being a professional is self-reflection and improvement. Take a moment and ask yourself:

  • Do I represent myself as a professional?
  • Is my appearance appropriate?
  • Am I polite?
  • Am I prepared?
  • Am I responsive?
  • Am I returning clients and internal calls and emails promptly?
  • Am I meeting my clients’ deadlines?
  • Are my documents complete, orderly and on time?
  • Am I consistently doing these things?

Modeling these attributes shows professional behavior, doing them consistently demonstrates you are a professional. By reflecting on these questions and evaluating your performance, you can identify ways to improve your performance and stand out as a professional.

Professional engineers are bound by a code of ethics. At KGEI, we encourage our team to memorize these tenants and use them as a guide for behavior.

  1. Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.
  2. Perform services only in areas of their competence.
  3. Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  4. Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.
  5. Avoid deceptive acts.
  6. Conduct yourself honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

I believe all these extend beyond the field of engineering and serve as a great guide for standing out as a professional. Professionals hold themselves to a high standard. They demonstrate professional behavior and they demonstrate it consistently.

We must all aspire to be known as professionals in our respective industries.