by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
It’s the little things – the willingness to have a beer with a mentor, internships, a follow-up phone-call or even having a work-product to show off a job candidate’s skills – that Dallas area employers say they’re missing when they fill jobs locally. Of course, the newer things – experience in project management, the ability to use industry-related data and an understanding of the workings of their industries – that hiring managers desire as well.
Those were points of consensus from a broad swath of industry leaders in professional services – from the logistics, construction, consulting and real estate sectors – who attended the Dallas Regional Chamber Industry Convening Dec. 6.
“The construction market has had a huge uptick, especially in the nation’s fourth-largest economy, which is DFW,” said Thomas Crowther, Managing Partner of The Crowther Group, whose clients include Toyota, Wal-Mart and Target. “In fourth quarter of 2016, there was over $11 billion worth of construction services happening in this market,” he said.
Yet that increase in activity has coincided with a large number of baby boomer retirements, leaving the industry in need of individuals who can perform at that level. Crowther said his firm is working with high schools and lower-level schools to establish a replacement workforce.
A key element in making the transition will be workers’ willingness to communicate with each other, he said.
“It would help us for those two types of personalities (retiring baby boomers and millennials) to co-exist better, if there were more social skills,” he said. “It’s almost as if you’re working with your grandfather, or your dad. And so, sometimes, being involved with that organization on campus, or going to have a beer, is the conversation you’re going to have with tenured skillsman to learn the craft.”
Nearly all companies need workers with project-management skills, said Ty Beasley, Office Managing Partner at RSM US’s Dallas office – an audit, tax and consulting service that service mid-market clients.
“Project-management training… is industry agnostic,” said Beasley. “It is skillset agnostic. There is a project involved in everything. There’s a process between a start and a finish. Project management skills are becoming more critical in today’s environment.”
Beasley said that when a firm hires RSM, they’re seeking expertise or skills that aren’t available in-house.
KPMG’s Taylor McKamy, JLL’s Sarah Boehland and EY’s Anneliese Schumacher said their operations are in immediate need of individuals who are familiar with the tools of their trade. In JLL’s case, it’s ARGUS real estate software; in the case of KPMG, students should take courses in management information systems, which would help them understand databases, the use of big data and data analytics. EY is looking for dual majors – in both accounting, and in information systems/computer science/artificial intelligence.
“The other area that hasn’t been mentioned (in the discussion) is the need for underrepresented minority talent,” said Schumacher. “And really working with high schools, grammar schools, to increase the pool of underrepresented minorities, and students studying accounting and technology. That’s a big issue.”
The ability to adapt to changes in technology and the increased availability of data is important to Texas Central, Texas’ bullet train.
Arbuckle said in his former job at AT&T, his role evolved from analog technology, to the digital space over 30 years’ time; the learning curves of today’s workers must be much quicker, he said.
Though they cited needs for industry-specific skills and knowledge repeatedly, panelists said incoming hires still lack knowledge on the basics of creating subject and signature lines for emails, basic writing skills, and the ability to interact with people face-to-face. Employers at the panel also especially valued job candidates who were motivated enough to teach themselves skills, and who followed through after their initial contacts.
Panelists Mark Edgar of Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Jarlin Jia of Co.media agreed that job candidates should get as much experience in speaking and communicating as they can, through organizations such as via Toastmasters International.
“Working in a communications firm, we see that a lot of people have degrees in communications, who are still missing the mark in communications,” said Jason Meyer, of Cooksey Communications. “But we’re having to adjust the way we communicate internally, because there is less face-to-face communication, and there is more email. You can’t get tone.”
Meyer’s work at Cooksey has included representing the 23,000-square-acre mixed-use AllianceTexas development, which employs nearly 50,000 people in fields from logistics to financial services.
“From day one, the only thing that’s been holding back projects like AllianceTexas, and our region, is workforce development issues,” he said. Meyer said the development has collaborated with Workforce Solutions to create the Alliance Opportunity Center to help fill those jobs with professionals with matching skills.
“One of the key things I’ve been working on from a public relations standpoint is, ‘How do we get the word out? How do we make sure people know these jobs are available?’”
The DRC industry convening, which was sponsored by Bank of America, is part of its strategic mission to help educational institutions in the region to better prepare students to be workforce ready for the North Texas economy. It represented the fourth and final meeting of the 2017 series.
The panel held a roundtable discussion in front of an audience of representatives from North Texas learning institutions, including Dallas, Grand Prairie and Richardson ISDs, the University of Phoenix, UNT-Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Baptist University, the University of Dallas, Boy Scouts of America, Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas, the Oak Cliff Family YMCA, and Dallas Community College District.
by Andrew LeGrand – Gibson, Dunn & Krutcher LLP
“A bridge is just a wall turned sideways,” Ambassador Ron Kirk told the Leadership Dallas Class of 2018 during the Government, Politics, and Media Day held on Friday, December 1 at Dallas City Hall. The former United States Trade Representative described a time when some viewed the Trinity River as the city’s Berlin Wall, and he detailed his determination, as Dallas’ first African American mayor, to build bridges to connect the regions of the city that have long been racially and economically segregated. Kirk, a Leadership Dallas alumnus, exhorted the LD class of current and future leaders to embrace this challenge and others still facing the city; to get and stay engaged both politically and civically, and to find a way to silence cynical critics while also working to find common ground with those who might have a different view.
Common ground emerged as a theme for the day as a panel of elected officials, including State Senator Royce West, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Dallas City Council Member Sandy Greyson, detailed the joys and challenges of serving in public office and how they have worked collaboratively with colleagues on different sides of the aisle to resolve some of the most difficult issues facing our region. Senator West, for example, described his work with State Senator Don Huffines and others to save the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System from insolvency. The panel, moderated by NBC 5’s Julie Fine, challenged the LD class to focus on service, rather than power, when considering whether to run for elected office.
The LD class then received full briefings on two issues yearning for leadership and a commitment to finding common ground: housing and immigration.
First, Mike Koprowski provided an overview of the city’s segregated housing patterns and moderated a discussion with Troy Broussard and Myriam Igoufe regarding the correlation between economic and racial segregation and opportunity in Dallas. Then, Liz Cedillo-Pereira moderated a discussion with Rep. Rafael Anchia, Sarah Saldana, and Jose Montoya Santoyo regarding immigration policy and enforcement. The LD class learned that net immigration from Mexico is at its lowest level since 1970, and the roughly 240,000 annual unauthorized crossings at the Texas-Mexico border constitutes a tiny fraction — roughly 2.3% — of all crossings there.
The takeaway from these two substantive policy discussions seemed to be that the leaders in this town, and those across the country, need to listen to each other, speak truthfully, and redouble their efforts to find workable solutions to these pressing problems. And although the government undoubtedly has an important role to play, some solutions will have to be forged out of public-private partnerships.
Indeed, a few days earlier, the LD class had the opportunity to tour Red Bird Mall and hear from private equity investor Peter Brodsky, another alumnus of Leadership Dallas, on the investment opportunity and the role that the private sector can play in reviving Southern Dallas, an area of the city that encompasses 185 square miles (roughly 54% of the Dallas area) but provides only 15% of the city’s tax base.
The Government, Politics, and Media day wrapped up with a conversation between Ken Benson, Roy Bailey, and Marc Stanley about fundraising and finance in politics, as well as a town-hall style conversation with Reed Galen and Gromer Jeffers about the role that media — in all of its forms — plays in framing and shaping our political discourse.
The day ended in a manner similar to the way it began. Echoing a message delivered at the day’s outset by Kimberly Bizor Tolbert, Benson charged the LD class to find a passion and get involved in our local communities and our local politics. Benson pointed to statistics showing Dallas’ low rankings in terms of political involvement and civic engagement. He told the class to be collaborative, and also to be intentional about learning things that we do not already know. The goal, as Tolbert mentioned in the morning, is not just to be present, but to be impactful.
On a day organized by eight LD class members, including co-chairs Kezia Stegemoeller and Jessica Baker, the LD class learned that we must not only commit to building bridges to close the widening gap between black and white, immigrant and non-immigrant, conservative and progressive, we must also be willing to actually cross those bridges ourselves to see real change.
We often conflate high salaries with prosperity, but that can be deceptive. Someone who lives in New York or San Francisco might make more money than a counterpart in the same profession in Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth, but when the cost of living is factored in, their Southern colleagues may actually come out ahead.
by Dave Moore, Staff Writer
If adversity reveals and builds character, the City of Dallas has character to spare, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told a sold-out crowd of about 730 individuals at his State of the City address, which was hosted by the Dallas Regional Chamber.
Rawlings used his annual address as much to review the events of 2017 as a springboard toward the city’s future. The event occurred on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
He framed the past through the prism of a book he recently completed; David Brooks’ “The Road to Character.”
“The road to character often involves moments of moral crisis, confrontation and recovery,” Rawlings told the crowd, summarizing Brooks’ work. “When they were in a crucible moment, they suddenly had a greater ability to see their own nature. This really speaks to what we’ve been through as a city over the past 18 months.”
Rawlings recalled issues the city was addressing during his previous State of the City speech:
“Our financial troubles were coming to a head just as our city council was discussing a very important topic… the prospect of an $800 (million) to $1 billion bond election, to start attacking our growing needs of streets and parks and flood control,” Rawlings said. “And it wasn’t as if we didn’t face major battles at the state level. I don’t have to tell this room of business leaders that we were in a war to protect the Dallas, Texas, miracle – fighting the legislature on the Bathroom Bill, Sanctuary Cities legislation and property tax reform.”
Rawlings thanked the Dallas Regional Chamber, VisitDallas, Dallas voters, public servants and others for joining to overcome those challenges. He also used the occasion to recognize that the city has made strides in reducing its childhood poverty rate and its property tax base has increased to an all-time high of $118 billion, among other gains.
“We’ve been given a tremendous hand,” Rawlings said. “The question is, what are we going to do with it?”
The key, he said, will be a great deal of work to be done to increase community involvement and connecting Dallas’ business community to those who need assistance. Toward that end, Rawlings promoted his “Dallas 2030” initiative, which is geared toward individuals living in the city of Dallas.
The 2030 initiative, which hasn’t been completely fleshed out yet, will attempt to better coordinate employment training, and educational and industry initiatives to improve the city’s quality of life and standard of living, he said.
Rawlings paraphrased David Brooks’ “The Road to Character” again in closing: “He [Brooks] says, ‘You do not ask, “What do I want from life?” Ask, “What does life want from me? What do my circumstances ask of me to do?’”
The State of the City event was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas; gold sponsors Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and Oncor; and silver sponsors BKD LLP, Boeing and The Men and Women of Hunt Consolidated, Inc..
Mike Gonzales, President of Armstrong Relocation’s Dallas office, gives us an inside look at Armstrong Relocation, a moving company that is celebrating its 60th anniversary.
Briefly tell us about your organization and its work in the Dallas Region.
Armstrong Relocation is a family business that was founded in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1957. We have been helping individuals and their families successfully relocate their household goods for more than 60 years. We work closely with our corporate clients in the Dallas Region, assisting them with relocation services for their employees, as well as with any office moving or warehousing needs that they may have.
What differentiates your company from others in your industry?
We like to start with our “why.” We pride ourselves in knowing why we enjoy helping our customers reach their next destination — by making that transition as easy for them as possible. We are here to hold their hands when they have questions and provide them with a seamless relocation by utilizing the largest moving fleet operated by any agent in the United States.
How long have you been a DRC member and why did you decide to join?
Our Dallas office opened in 1975, and we have been a DRC member for more than 30 years. We joined the DRC because we feel that every local corporate citizen has a responsibility to be part of an organization that helps to not only bring our region together, but also reach new heights by convincing companies to relocate here to become part of our vibrant metropolitan area.
What do you enjoy most about doing business in the Dallas Region?
I enjoy the Dallas (and Texas!) business-friendly, can-do attitude, which has helped our city and state become one of the most dynamic areas in the entire country.
How has your business changed over the past 60 years?
We have enjoyed tremendous success and expansion during the past six decades, having grown from a single location to currently operating in 29 cities from coast-to-coast. Additionally, we have become considerably more aggressive in seeking out written customer feedback, with the goal of continuously looking for ways to improve our performance. And like all successful companies, we have also changed with the times by applying the advances in technology to our business approach.
What do you hope for your company and the Dallas business community over the next 60 years?
I hope that our company and the Dallas business community both continue to grow in a positive way — by making this a place that everyone can be proud of and one that will maintain its current standing as a wonderful locale in which to raise a family and have a successful career.
Is there anything else you’d like to include about your company or its 60th anniversary celebration?
We look forward to continuing to grow and improve in this next decade and beyond, with the goal of being the premier relocation services company in the Dallas Region, the state of Texas, and the entire country.
We welcome your questions and comments. To request more information about area businesses or to share an idea, contact us: