CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”
CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
—Peter Baeklund

If and when great people leave an organization, does it mean time and resources spent on training and development were wasted? No. Leadership Activist, Speaker and Founder of THE SENSEI LEADER Movement, Jim Bouchard, says, “Good people will stay longer, work harder and be much more engaged in your vision when you give them the opportunity to grow. Even if they do leave, which is always a possibility, for the rest of the time they’re with you you’re going to have better, more productive and engaged employees. If and when they leave, they’re more likely to leave as peers, potential strategic partners and collaborators—rather than enemies.”

Engineer in Training, Riley Olson, joined EAPC in 2016 right after he graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. Before EAPC, Riley interned at NoDak Electric Coop in Grand Forks and Minnkota Power Coop in Center. Now Riley has been offered a position of mentorship under the Director of Electrical Engineering with another firm with the intent of transitioning into that position within five years. Here’s how Riley believes EAPC gave him the foundation and experience he needed to take this next step in his career.

Riley shares, “I feel that I benefited on multiple fronts here in my two years with EAPC. First, in general, any experience you can get is great, but I was able to come aboard and be embraced almost immediately. There was a very brief period where I was catching up on standards, but for the most part, of my 27 months here, 26 of them were spent in a project design role. I had the opportunity to learn and grow under one of the senior engineers before his retirement. With that, there was a transfer of responsibility slowly from him to me. That enabled me to get deeply involved in each and every project in EAPC’s Grand Forks office. I was attending all of the meetings that he was, contacting and communicating with each client, and getting involved internally with our project teams. Everyone embraced me from the top down as part of the team and involved me with the entire design process. Some companies don’t allow young engineers like myself to be that heavily involved with projects, that quickly. I could have spent my 27 months at a different firm without being as involved on one project as I was on every project at EAPC. Having a boss that entrusts you with design like that right out the chute is something you don’t see every day.”

EAPC’s Electrical Department Manager said that he “thoroughly enjoyed working with such an aspiring young engineer. Riley has shown tremendous growth over the last two years and will no doubt continue to develop as a tremendous engineer and leader.”

Riley Olson and EAPC Electrical Engineer, Marc Hagen, representing EAPC at the University of North Dakota Career Fair

Riley went on to relate, “EAPC is very well established, particularly in the healthcare market, but really, comfortable in any market. There are an overabundance of firms that won’t hardly touch the healthcare industry. The codes and design requirements in general are much more stringent and naturally more difficult to meet or understand. During my time at EAPC, I was in charge of looking up certain codes for every aspect of the project. I was in charge of seeking out that knowledge and learning it for myself. Though, if I needed help finding or searching for something, there were numerous people I could have a conversation with. Having to look up codes yourself, or put time into it, you develop a better understanding than if someone designs the project and tells you these codes. If someone is constantly doing the work for you, you can start to “tune out” or miss the true reasoning of why we design things the way we do. Getting into the trenches yourself allows you the opportunity to fully inspect every aspect of the design and grow from that experience.

“Next, the caliber of employees and project design teams at EAPC is unmatched. Every person on the design team has something to offer in the process. It’s truly incredible the wealth of knowledge that lives here. From different geographical experiences to different market experience, someone at EAPC has likely encountered whatever it is you are working on. And if not, there is someone who can point you in the right direction and is more than willing to work with you on it and help you along the way. The project design team in Grand Forks truly felt like we were one big family during my time there. I was able to look up to and learn from each and every person I encountered at EAPC. Didn’t matter whether they were an engineer, architect, drafter or worked in marketing or accounting. I learned something from every person I worked with at EAPC and I will continue to use what I learned going forward to better myself. Being a new engineer out of college was incredibly exciting at EAPC. Every different project had some eye-opening experience or aspect and I was able to just sit back and drink it all in.

Riley Volunteering with EAPC for the United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks & Area Toys for Tots Event

“Finally, the culture. Whether you agree with or completely disagree with someone on a portion of the design process at EAPC, one thing holds true. Everyone wants the customer or client to get the best outcome at the end of the project, and client happiness trumps all. When everyone has the same end goal in mind, both EAPC and the clients are the ones benefiting. And when there were disagreements, everyone was particularly open to conversation. Having a detailed discussion with such a quality design team is how you put out quality projects. When you can brainstorm and work together for a unified outcome, everyone wins.

Riley and EAPC Structural Engineer, Matt Nordeen at EAPC Grand Forks’ Summer Office Picnic

These are some of the truly incredible qualities at EAPC that I saw, felt, and experienced during my time there. I know, inevitably, there are aspects and qualities that I am leaving out or forgetting, but these are the things that were engraved into me.”

Riley greatly contributed to the team during his time here. His fellow team member and mentoree shares, “From the time I started at EAPC, Riley was helpful with everything from small company policies I had not yet learned to confusing electrical questions there was no way I could Google. He was willing to help with any question I had and always stopped what he was doing to call me up when it wasn’t a simple answer. I didn’t have much experience with electrical systems prior to EAPC, but my simple knowledge didn’t stop him from being helpful rather than being short with an inexperienced drafter; he always thoroughly explained everything and taught me from step one to the end. Even after asking the same question three days after he first explained it, he made sure to teach me in a different way or from another direction to make sure I understood for next time. The greatest thing about learning from him is that he never gave up on me and he always, always made sure I understood the best I could before he went on to something else.”

For some, EAPC has served as a life long career. For others, we are thankful for the interchange of growth and experience that took place while they were here.

EAPC is grateful to have had a young professional like Riley pass through our doors on his career path. We are sorry to see him go but we are very excited for his next step and we wish him great experiences and much success where he is going.