The CSI College of Fellows has selected five new members to the 2020 class, including William Sundquist, CSI.
William was nominated through a rigorous application process, then elected by the Jury of Fellows for membership. Fellowship is one of the top two honors given by the Institute.
William will be inducted during the virtual Honors and Awards Ceremony taking place later this fall. Here, he shares what the honor means to him, and how he has contributed to—and benefited from—his membership in CSI.
What does being a member of the 2020 Class of Fellows honorees mean to you?
It is beyond words for me. This is something I never knew could happen to me, or at least not at my age. I started CSI in 2004 and took every opportunity to get involved because I enjoyed the process of learning from my peers in the industry. And now, 16 years later, to become a Fellow in the association that has given so much to me is truly an honor beyond words.
Fellowship acknowledges contributions to the advancement of construction technology. Of all your contributions to CSI, which of them are most significant to you?
I will always say being president of the Knoxville chapter the year we fully endowed the CSI scholarship at the University of Tennessee School of Architecture and Design will be the highlight of my CSI career. There were many members in the chapter that worked hard raising support for the scholarship, but to see us cross the finish line and award the first prize when I was president was truly special. For me, it has always been about supporting the future talent of our industry.
What was your first job in the construction industry?
I started in the General Shale Brick sales trainee program in Atlanta, Ga. I was introduced to every aspect of the brick industry, both manufacturing and sales. I must admit, the week I spent with the fire person on the kiln was thrilling. Walking around and on top of the kiln every hour to make sure the temperatures were consistent throughout was exciting for this rookie in the brick business!
What has been your favorite aspect of making your career in this field?
Understanding my role and responsibility for the built environment. That said, CSI has proven to be the model that helps build collaborative team building and communication, which in turn provides a platform for individuals to come together to build better buildings.
How has being a member of CSI informed your life and career?
Simply put, I would not be the person I am today in the industry without CSI. As I always say, I graduated with a degree in Public Relations, so I had no formal training in the construction industry. CSI taught me the language of construction, which allowed me to be successful in what I do. I believe this is an aspect of CSI that should be celebrated, and I certainly will tell my CSI story everywhere I go.
Is there anyone you would like to recognize for supporting the work you do?
Yes, absolutely every person I have gotten to know in CSI! You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for being so supportive of me throughout my journey.
What advice would you give to newer CSI members just entering this industry, or that you wish a colleague had given you?
Attend every event you can and focus on the long run. Commercial construction is a long game. Never miss an opportunity to learn and engage!
What do you think the most significant changes, or opportunities, will be in the construction industry in the next 5 to 10 years?
Like any industry, disruption is coming to the construction industry. Just like in aviation and auto manufacturing, technology will play a larger roll in what we do. That said, I view CSI as a disrupter to the industry. After all, that is what we did in 1948. I believe CSI can be the leading association in the AEC industry when it comes to disruptive technology to improve the construction process.
Any additional thoughts on how being a member of the CSI Community has helped weather the current pandemic and how you and your colleagues continue to support each other?
I believe CSI prepares you to face many life challenges because that is what we learn and what we do. No doubt, the current pandemic will be replaced with another challenge in the future, but being prepared to handle a crisis and navigate rough waters is a personal skill I have certainly developed and enhance during my CSI journey.