The recently elected CSI Board of Directors began their term July 1. Here, in their own words, they discuss their history with the association, how it has benefited their professional experience, and the immediate and long-term opportunities they see for CSI in the years to come.
Meet Jarrod Mann, PE, CSI, CDT®, the new CSI Board Director at Large.
How did you first become involved with CSI, and how has that helped your professional experience grow?
I joined CSI in 2006 as a young engineer looking to expand my professional network and to find a way to bring a unique value back to my firm. My 15 years in CSI have helped me far exceed those original goals for myself and the companies I’ve worked for. My network has grown (far beyond anything I imagined), and the technical and leadership skills I have learned through CSI have benefited my firms and myself through the development of projects and clients, improved project delivery, and management of projects and staff.
What are your goals as a member of the CSI Board?
Through volunteering with CSI at the local, regional, and national level, I feel I have been able to learn about many facets of the Institute; what’s working, what’s not working, and what we need to have work to move the organization in a positive direction. I feel incredibly fortunate to join the board at this time because I believe that recent leadership, both staff and volunteer, have positioned CSI to evolve and thrive in today’s AECO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Owner) industry environment. My goals as a member of the CSI Board are to build on the work that has been ongoing in CSI, to see current ideas and initiatives realized and implemented, and to shape the next steps we take as an Institute to demonstrate and increase the value we provide to our members and the industry at large.
What are the top opportunities you see for CSI?
I believe CSI is one of the best-kept secrets in our industry. Virtually everyone involved in the design, construction, management, and ownership of built environments uses or benefits from the products and knowledge developed and maintained by CSI, yet many of them have never heard of us. We certainly have opportunities to improve the valve we provide as an organization, but even more than that, I believe one of our greatest opportunities is for CSI to increase our visibility so more professionals understand the value CSI has always provided. There are many avenues to accomplish this, including our certifications, our retail products, the educational and professional content we generate, and the networking, leadership, and professional growth opportunities we provide. But all of these will be limited by how members feel about their Institute and how or if they choose to share CSI with others, so the overall top opportunity I see for CSI is in reminding each of our members why they joined CSI and why they continue their involvement. When our members are excited about CSI, whatever CSI is to them personally, they will share that with others and it will propel CSI forward.
How did you see the AEC community help each other navigate through the COVID-19 crisis?
I saw our community really come together during the pandemic in many ways. Remote and isolated work was a new experience for many design professionals, and I saw great networks of professionals sharing best practices for using technology, developing and maintaining digital relationships, and caring for each other professionally and personally. I saw construction professionals adapt quickly and repeatedly to scheduling, staffing, material availability and workflow changes on job sites, coordinating with their Architect/Engineer, manufacturer, and owner partners to continue to deliver projects in the best and safest way possible. I saw owners, design, and construction professionals reach out to product manufacturers and representatives for expert knowledge of how existing products could be applied in new ways and for new products to respond to new and updated facility requirements, and I saw product representatives quickly adopt new ways to educate professionals about their products and services so those professionals could continue to do their jobs. Overall, I saw our industry come together to continue to improve on the built environment that we deliver to the public every day.
What do you feel are the top resources that CSI provides?
I believe this answer will be different for each member and potential member (which is everyone!). CSI’s resources and values provided are numerous, and one of our greatest strengths is that we don’t have to be the same thing to all people. For some, our certifications provide the knowledge and recognition that they need to jumpstart their careers. For others, the products and content we create are invaluable in maintaining and growing their businesses. Still others receive great benefit from finding a place to develop management and leadership skills that they can apply to all areas of their lives. I believe that the resources that CSI provides which bring all the others together are the contacts, networking, and relationships between our members and partners.
Do you have a favorite project or work experience you would like to share?
There are too many projects that come to mind, so I’ll choose a work experience instead. Over the past 13 years, I’ve had the opportunity to establish, grow, and maintain a long-term relationship with a major university through a series of on-call engineering design contracts in addition to selections for design work on many larger capital improvement projects. During that time, I’ve completed well over 100 projects on campus in addition to numerous studies, evaluations, and master planning efforts, and I’m very proud of the impact I’ve been able to have on the educational and support facilities on the campus supporting tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff.
But more than that, my favorite part of my experience with this institution is the relationships I’ve developed with facilities planning, support and maintenance staff, and many departments and facility users on the campus, and the ownership and pride I have developed for the campus. Running into someone on campus whose lab we remodeled a decade ago and learning how they are using that facility to further science, research and education is one of the most fulfilling experiences I have. Being a trusted advisor and a source of institutional knowledge for the people directly responsible for operating and maintaining their facilities is incredibly rewarding and motivating.
Is there anything else you would like your fellow members to know?
Although I am just getting started in my role as Director at Large, I can already testify that your CSI staff and volunteer leadership are working incredibly hard on your behalf every day, and most of this effort is behind the scenes. As an electrical engineer, I generally consider a project successful if nobody ever comments on the systems I design, because the only calls I generally get are when there is a problem. Managing a large, complex organization like CSI is much the same, and staff and leadership generally only get calls or emails when something isn’t working or when expectations aren’t met. I want all my fellow CSI members to know that when you express concerns, they are heard.
I also want to encourage members to think about all of the things you love about CSI and all the things that work well (maybe so well that you don’t even notice them), and then to reach out and thank the people that make those things happen, at the Chapter, Region, and National levels. Remember that CSI works best when we’re all rowing in the same direction, working toward a common goal. If you have ideas or suggestions for where CSI should be heading, share them. Or better yet, get involved – this is your Institute! Individually and collectively, WE ARE CSI.
Learn more about the CSI Board of Directors and the work they do for the association.