News & Insights

President’s Corner: Rethinking Recognition

Steve Lefton, PLA, AICP Kimley-Horn President

I’ve heard conflicting opinions on participation trophies—trophies given to those who participate in an event but don’t finish on the proverbial podium. Part of me thinks, sure, let’s reward people for showing up. That’s half the battle, right? The other part of me sees the importance in teaching people about humility and defeat. The participation trophy debate will likely continue in the workplace and in parent circles for years to come, so I’d like to challenge us to shift our focus elsewhere. What if we transitioned from a win or lose mentality and focused on the passion behind a recognition? Let’s instead celebrate the reason why you’re here, the motivation that gets you out of bed each day, and the dreams you have at night.

Kimley-Horn named one of FORTUNE's 100 Best Companies to Work ForThe following recognitions are, yes, awards, but let’s look deeper. I’m proud of these recognitions because they honor drive, commitment, and leadership. They’re not about winning or losing, or simply participating. Rather, they are about being the best you can be and accomplishing great things because of it. They’re about earning the respect of your peers, the trust of your clients, and the pride of your employees. To me, these rewards are priceless.

  1. ENR Top Young Professionals: This annual competition highlights those who have had an impact in their respective fields or within their companies and who exhibit qualities such as leadership, career progress, community involvement, and creating landmark projects. In 2019, four of our young professionals were selected.
    • Ashley Lickliter: A contributor to $200 million worth of traffic operations and multimodal transportation, ITS, and transit design projects across the U.S., Ashley is also a driving force behind our women’s initiative (LIFT).
    • Uday Khambhammettu: Known for his prolific research skills and knowledge sharing, Uday has a nationwide portfolio of water/wastewater projects.
    • Brian Valentine: A partner to the City and County of Denver, Brian also dedicates time to his community as a YMCA basketball coach and ACE mentor.
    • Amy Avery: Helping improve circulation, accessibility, signal optimization, and safety with her traffic projects, Amy is referred to as the MVP of our San Antonio office.
  2. ACEC California Merit Award: Our California team received a Merit Award for designing trail improvements on Phase 2 of the Johnny Cash Trail in Folsom, CA. Our involvement in the one-mile extension included the design of an undercrossing and the design of a 190 LF wooden deck bridge as a major focal point of the new trail. Kimley-Horn coordinated closely with the bridge supplier to place the bridge and meet crane accessibility needs while preserving natural trail terrain.
  3. FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For: For the twelfth time, Kimley-Horn was recognized on this list of best places to work. This award makes me especially proud as three-fourths of it is based on employee responses to an external survey. Employees are asked to rate trust in managers, compensation, fairness, camaraderie, and workplace traits linked to innovation. Of the more than 2,000 employees surveyed, 96% say Kimley-Horn is a great place to work.

How do you celebrate the accomplishments and passion of your employees? Does your company foster a culture of recognition? Let’s think beyond the trophy and celebrate the positive impact our work is having on our industry and community—that’s reason enough to rejoice.