Scott Sanders: The Power of Mentorship
Scott Sanders is no stranger to the tremendous impact a great mentor can have. Scott is an associate principal with Alvine Engineering and is a leader of our Oklahoma City office. He’s been working in the architectural engineering and construction industry for 25 years and has enjoyed collaborating with some of the sharpest minds within the profession. Scott is Central Oklahoma’s ASHRAE Chapter President and serves as a member on multiple energy and architectural jury committees for Oklahoma State University. Scott’s unique leadership opportunities have refined his ability to foster a collaborative work environment predicated on learning and mentorship.
“I think it’s important for all of our team members to share their knowledge,” Scott explained, “And not just about engineering, we have our staff members share knowledge on a number of topics like public speaking and communication, there are a lot of topics out there that we discuss that help our staff be more well-rounded professionals.”
Scott has taken an intentional approach to encouraging the firm’s Oklahoma City staff to be active members within their communities and to pursue professional development with organizations such as the Illuminating Engineering Society, ASHRAE, and the National Fire Protection Association. Scott’s belief is that a great basis of knowledge comes from a wide variety of sources. One of the ways our leadership team creates access to a steady stream of knowledge from diverse sources is our weekly internal tech sessions–where members of every discipline are invited to attend.
“We also have a team meeting every Friday in addition to our tech session, and an agenda topic is always ‘lessons learned.’ And that can be a lesson learned from anything,” Scott stated, “Mentorship has a stigma associated with it that only older professionals can provide it, and that’s not true. There’s no age that should be associated with mentoring! Everyone has something that they’ve learned that they can share with somebody.”
A Spirited History
Alvine Engineering celebrates a spirited history of mentorship that provides our young professionals with access to professional development opportunities, regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with experts in their field, professional registration incentives, and tuition reimbursement. However, Alvine Engineering’s culture of mentorship goes beyond a benefits package. For Scott, he works learning opportunities into the everyday tasks faced by our firm’s professionals. One of his preferred methods of passing on the occasional tip and trick is through his “yellow pencil checks (YPC).” Alvine Engineering’s YPC process is a quality review process on a job-by-job basis in order to produce consistent and accurate design deliverables.
“I won’t ever just mark things and send them back. I use the YPC as a way to discuss all of the comments I made with them and have a conversation about their thought process,” Scott explained, “It’s really rewarding to see work that comes in from someone you mentor, and they’ve absorbed and used the ideas you teach them.”
Scott has enjoyed watching young professionals grow into their roles and take ownership of projects that are within their realm of responsibility. Watching the growth and improvement in the ability to communicate, use the correct terminology, and become more confident in client calls and team meetings has made mentorship a truly enriching experience. Most importantly, Scott has noticed the firm’s young professionals undertake the firm’s objectives to maintain and grow our relationships with our clients and collaborators.
A More Knowledgeable Industry
Scott accredits his leadership abilities and knowledge in part to his experience as Central Oklahoma’s ASHRAE Chapter President. Scott advocates for technical staff members to be a part of professional societies, as the knowledge, connections, and experiences gained through membership are invaluable.
“Being able to share the knowledge I’ve gained over my professional career and what I’ve learned through the efforts I’ve made with my professional affiliations allows me to speak to topics that might not be covered through our internal mentorship,” Scott explained, “For example, through ASHRAE I was able to learn more about seismic design for nonstructural mechanical systems. Engineers just don’t get those opportunities by only utilizing mentorship opportunities strictly within the walls of their firm.”
Another focus point Scott has learned through his involvement in ASHRAE involves the cultural and personal components within the business of engineering. Specifically, how interoffice dynamics impact idea generation and the exchange of information within a team. Scott has found the various learning opportunities provided by ASHRAE to be enlightening and useful for crafting a work environment focused on innovation.
“What makes being involved at ASHRAE so special is that we have all these different people, some in competing firms, coming together to move the industry forward,” Scott stated, “It’s really incredible that, for one hour, we’re all sharing knowledge together because we all care about the profession.”
Continuing the Cycle
Scott claims that he would never have arrived at the place he is in his career without the help from his mentors. Scott reminisced about one dedicated academic advisor who helped him achieve his master’s degree and encouraged him to become involved in ASHRAE as a student, which opened up his development and career growth to new opportunities.
“Even after I graduated, I could still call him and ask him for guidance,” Scott reminisced, “I was no longer enrolled in school, and he was still willing to help me out, which really impressed me and taught me early on about the impact an advisor and mentor can have.”
Scott has been inspired to provide the same level of mentorship to his own staff members that he received in his early career. Scott has always emphasized the importance of teaching his team members the skills of the trade. Moreover, Scott strives to disseminate the value of working with integrity. Scott is a firm believer that working with good people is the key to achieving excellence in engineering.
“I love working with people who have my back and stay true to their word,” Scott finished, “It creates a level of camaraderie and teamwork that can’t be matched.”