Home President's Corner President’s Corner – November 2020 – Emily McCarthy

President’s Corner – November 2020 – Emily McCarthy


It’s a rainy Saturday in Auckland. I had planned to attend an outdoor wine festival at the viaduct but am now rethinking that option. As I look out my window, I see young people standing at a street corner waiting for the walk signal, hoodies up to block the rain. One young guy is running and sliding on the sidewalk while his friend calmly stands still. Did you ever do that as a kid, in socks start to run down a hardwood or tile hallway and then jump and slide the rest of the way? This guy is doing that on the sidewalk in shoes…which makes me think how dangerous those sidewalks could be for an elderly person…yes I am old enough that the fun of the slide is waylaid by the thought that the construction material was poorly chosen for a safe public sidewalk. In life, plans can get messed up, age and experience can color how we see the world. In equivalent external circumstances, I can be disappointed that the rain has changed my plans, and this young kid can get a sliding thrill because of the same rain. I don’t begrudge the kid his fun, rather I smile that someone can turn the rain into a game. I hope you discern the life wisdom in my circumstances, what you see as negative can be seen as a positive for another individual and that’s not a value judgement of either person, or either person’s perspective.

In work too, given my structural engineering focus, I have been evaluating options from that primary mode of thinking. And yet, as we all know, sometimes construction decisions are made with schedule and cost as the primary considerations (obviously without compromising structural integrity). What can seem to be an incongruous decision from my structural perspective, can actually be the wisest choice when all factors are out on the table. To be a team player and bring a project to a successful close, I have to let go of my preconceived idea about the best path forward and absorb new and needed information to help develop smart alternative options. That can be difficult for some of us. We get entrenched in a certain direction of thought and letting go of that feels like admitting to a wrong, which it is not, it is merely shifting all your valuable thinking and resources to attack a problem from a different vantage. Ultimately, we are all looking for a successful solution that meets the need of our clients.

As is my wont, I bring this back around to the community you are surrounding yourself with. Our ability to expand and creatively problem solve is aided by the quality and variety of people with whom we interact. We learn and grow by listening to other people and seeing how they handle professional and personal challenges. We can be inspired by the successes of our colleagues; we can be galvanized into doing better when we hear about the overcoming of others. Sometimes hearing about new technology or approaches or the rethinking of a problem, though not replicated exactly in our circumstances, can provide the opening we need to approach a problem in a fresh way. Sometimes all we need is moral support and to know that others are experiencing similar challenges, and persevering through those challenges. SEAoT Houston is a great organization to be involved in. We are comprised of a group of people who love our industry and want our collective community to succeed. I encourage you to be as involved as you can be in the coming months and years. Where you see rain, another can help you see opportunity.

Be good and stay well.

Emily McCarthy
SEAoT Houston/Gulf Coast