A Conversation with DBIA’s 2016 Board Chair

Issue 4 of 2015

By G. William Quatman, FAIA, DBIA, Esq.

1. Tell us more about your role at Burns & McDonnell and what you can bring to your role as Board Chair?

I am general counsel and senior vice president for a 5,000+ person integrated, international design-build firm. I’ve had this position for seven years, after 24 years in private law practice, where I represented design professionals, contractors, subcontractors and owners. I am also a licensed architect and practiced in that role before and during law school. This broad background gives me a good perspective on issues facing the construction industry as a whole, but especially for those engaged in design-build or EPC projects. My company is in the top Engineering News-Record lists for both design firms and contractors, so we deal with all the issues you can imagine, including those faced by DBIA members each day. Even though my role would sound solely legal in nature, at least half of my time is spent on business issues and transactions. I feel I can bring this wide-angle lens to the DBIA Board of Directors and DBIA members, rather than focus on any one single area of project delivery.


2. What are your three top priorities for 2016 to help advance DBIA, the A/E/C industry and design-build project delivery?

The DBIA Board of Directors just completed a long-range planning session aimed at giving strategic direction to the organization through 2018. The top three priorities were: Universalize Design-Build Done Right™, Lead Collaboration and Integration in Alternative Project Delivery and Deliver High Value to All Members and Customers. Within those categories are sub-sets of many task items for DBIA, including membership growth and financial stability. Those two are very important to me and should be to all our members if we want a strong organization capable of delivering quality programs, education and initiatives like our DBIA Best Practices. Those big three will get us there.


3. What new initiatives are you focused on this year?

Aside from the board’s long-range plans, I’ve been active in other organizations during my 35-year career, including past chair of AIA’s national design-build committee (which was the second largest at that time, second only to the design committee). I know that these other organizations deal with many of the same issues DBIA does. So I’ve already reached out to the incoming chairs or presidents of several affiliated organizations to solicit their views on the issues facing them and their organizations. While our interests might not always align, I know there is strength in numbers and if we can find our common interests and work on those, we can accomplish so much more together. After all, isn’t that what collaboration is all about? The response has been great, and I am excited to engage these leaders in a discussion of how we can work together in 2016 and beyond.


4. Where would you like to see DBIA by the end of 2016? In five years?

Increased membership growth and financial stability, regionally and nationally. We’ve set some goals at the board level on where we’d like to be. Those include a six-month reserve over the next five years, plus an endowment for research. In terms of membership growth, we’re shooting for a better retention rate for both individual members and industry partners. We have work to do in the Regions, where we have some that are thriving and others still building a stable base. We’d like to see all DBIA regions financially self-sufficient by the end of 2018, which is doable.


5. What new areas do you plan to explore to enhance DBIA member value?

I think we can benefit by expanding our reach beyond the United States. Just to our north, the P3 market is exploding and we are reaching out to the Canadian Design-Build Institute to see how we can partner better. Lisa Washington and Peter Kinsley are attending their conference this year and I will do the same in 2016. There are no other international organizations focused on design-build, but we know our members are doing projects internationally, and I think we can learn from each other on best practices when going abroad. We are also getting ready to publish the often-asked-for Model RFQ and RFP, which the legal committee has been working on for some time.


6. What are your personal leadership goals this year?

To attract high-quality public and private owners as DBIA members and Board members, at the Regional and national levels. To reach out to allied organizations and see how we can accomplish more on topics of mutual interest. To grow our membership and stabilize our finances. To make DBIA the organization people want to belong to because it is on the leading edge of project delivery best practices, there is value in being a member, and we have fun by networking and collaborating at this exciting time in our industry.