In May of 2022, CEC hosted the first-ever “Step Up Your Game” (SUYG) technical conference in Pittsburgh. The conference gave our team members a chance to create fresh content and work with a senior mentor to develop and polish a presentation. Those presentations were then introduced at the conference in front of an audience of the presenters’ peers. One of the overarching goals of SUYG was to use original ideas to prepare a presentation that could then be used at different regional and national conferences. As hoped for, SUYG has already allowed our team members to go on to present at other conferences, helping them advance their careers and become valuable assets to our firm.
“Having senior staff help me build my abstract to catch the reader’s attention and clearly lay out my goals for the presentation was invaluable.”
Matt Kramer, Geospatial Systems Administrator from CEC Columbus, presented “Utilizing Survey123 and Python Script to Standardize the Production of Project Deliverables” at SUYG. A couple of months before the conference, Matt presented at the Harrisburg GeoDev Summit. Because of the work he had already done with the SUYG committee members in preparation for his presentation, Matt was able to submit his abstract and presentation to the Summit quickly, and it was accepted as is. He says having senior staff help him build his abstract and presentation was “invaluable.” Thanks to SUYG, Matt was also able to submit an abstract for another conference at a time when he would usually have to pass on the opportunity due to a busy schedule. Matt says, “Having [the material] completed and reviewed has given me the confidence to start applying for these presentation opportunities.” The SUYG conference also developed our team members’ networking skills in a conference setting to expand internal and external contacts. This was useful to Matt, leading to meaningful conversations at the Harrisburg GeoDev Summit and a connection with a GIS manager from a Pennsylvania-based utility company.
Abigail Pollock, a Project Manager II from CEC Pittsburgh, was afforded a plethora of other presentation opportunities thanks to SUYG. Abigail’s senior mentor was Rick Buffalini, a Vice President in our Waste Management practice who has been with CEC for nearly 30 years. Before SUYG, Abigail contributed to two poster presentations that Rick was showing at different conferences. Abigail says that preparing both posters with Rick helped her get feedback from Rick to prepare her SUYG presentation, “Landfill Solar Design & Permitting of Solar Power on Closed Disposal Facilities.” Following SUYG, Abigail was invited to speak on a panel at the Special Institute on Commercial Renewable Energy Project Development hosted by the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law. “Having already prepared materials for prior conferences and fielded questions from colleagues on the material during SUYG, I went into this conference with a lot more confidence,” says Abigail. SUYG benefitted her relationships inside CEC as well, introducing her to other offices and learning more about other projects and clients with which they are involved. She was also able to present at one of CEC’s Educational Training Courses, which offers attendees knowledge on timely topics taught by our subject matter experts. Today, Abigail’s presentation has been easily translatable, developing into two different poster presentations and several speaking formats ranging from 10 to 50 minutes. Like Matt, she has been able to submit abstracts to other conferences more easily “because of the amount of time that I have spent in the subject material already.”
“Having already prepared materials for prior conferences and fielded questions from colleagues on the material during Step Up Your Game, I went into this conference with a lot more confidence.”
David Robinson, a Project Manager II from CEC Austin, presented before SUYG at the Texas Chemical Council Environmental, Health, and Safety Seminar. A few weeks after he found out his abstract was accepted for SUYG, his supervisor recommended he respond to the call for abstracts from the Seminar using the same material. David says he found his Seminar and SUYG presentation, “Avoiding Waste Over-Classification: Case Studies,” to have the same overall objective of “delivering useful and interesting information to the audience while conveying my (and CEC’s) ability to provide a valuable service.” His presentation also helped him draw in more work. “One of the audience members at my external presentation was a client who hadn’t worked with CEC much lately. We talked after my seminar presentation and in the subsequent social events. Two weeks later, she requested a proposal for new work after months of no activity.” David also used the SUYG conference to initiate conversations with other dormant clients by inviting them to attend, sending them his presentation, and bringing up issues relevant to his topic.
The Step Up Your Game technical conference helps presenters achieve their career goals by teaching them how to develop an effective presentation and giving confidence in networking and presenting. To learn more about the 2023 SUYG conference, click here. To learn more about the 2022 SUYG conference, click here.