Employee-Owner Spotlight: Meet Senior Professional Engineer John Glatzmaier

June 23, 2020

Name

John Glatzmaier

Title

Senior Professional Engineer*

Practice

Wastewater engineering

Senior Wastewater and Water Engineer John Glatzmaier provides Minnesota and other SEH clients in the Midwest with planning and design expertise for wastewater conveyance, treatment plant and stormwater system projects. John’s 20+ years of engineering experience, including leading multi-million dollar projects, has given him a unique insight into project delivery and construction management.

We sat down with the veteran engineer to get his insight into the industry.

What trends are you seeing in the wastewater industry?
I’ve noticed an increased use of asset management tools; reuse of wastewater; increased nutrient removal; plant efficiency improvements including energy recovery; carbon footprint reductions; and value-based prioritization and selection of CIP projects. Each of these trends strive to increase infrastructure reliability and resiliency, improve the quality of the environment and provide value to utility operators and their customers.

Related Content: The State of Water Infrastructure [eBook]

Where do you see the industry going in the next 10-15 years?
I think a big industry driver will be maintaining critical infrastructure and implementing technologies to improve water quality and increase value to customers. This speaks to the triple bottom line philosophy of measuring the financial, social and environmental aspects of projects to provide the best value to customers.

How would you describe what you do at work to elementary-aged children?
I’d ask them if they enjoy swimming or boating in rivers and lakes, and how they would feel if they couldn’t because the water was polluted. I’d explain that my profession helps keep lakes and rivers clean by constructing and maintaining the buildings and systems infrastructure that helps clean the water that is flushed down toilets, sinks and showers. I’d also tell them where it goes and why it’s important to remove harmful pollutants from the water prior to releasing it back into the environment.

What are the most important things a utility should consider in order to operate their facilities at peak performance?
I think investing in staff and infrastructure are two of the most important things to do to maintain a peak performance facility. Investing in operations and maintenance staff training and creating a friendly and supportive work environment not only improves quality of work but job performance as well. Also, investing in equipment maintenance helps ensure the facility is always ready to operate at peak levels.

Let’s talk about project management. What are the three most important elements of managing a successful project?
There are many project management success elements, but I think the three most important are:

  1. Project planning. It’s critical to develop a project plan at the beginning of a project in order to understand the details, risks, team, client expectations, schedule and budget. The project plan is the music score used to produce a successful project. It allows the project team to understand and execute their roles and responsibilities in time with the rest of the team.
  2. Effective communication. A detailed communication plan is also critical to every project; it defines how you will communicate to the client, team members, vendors and stakeholders. A communication plan should also foster an environment where information is distributed in a timely manner and where ideas can be shared openly to efficiently deliver the project.
  3. Managing change. With any project, there is a risk that a portion of it will change. Identifying project risks and having a change management plan helps to reduce schedule and budget changes.

Related Content: 5 Critical Traits of Today’s Project Manager

What associations are you involved in? How does your involvement help you in the industry?
I’m involved in the Central States Water Environment Association, where I completed a five-year term serving as Minnesota section vice chair, chair, past chair and trustee. Serving in these roles has given me leadership experience that I bring to the projects I manage. I’ve also met many outstanding people in the industry who have proved to be great resources throughout my career.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the wastewater industry?
I’d tell them to get involved in a professional organization or a group at work to meet others in the profession and establish relationships. Technical expertise is very important, but these relationships are also critical to your career growth. Work to be an effective communicator to express your ideas effectively. Also, understanding and dealing with the people you work with and for will benefit everyone throughout their career.

Is there anything else interesting we should know about you?
I like to travel to new places, exploring and experiencing the many different parks, museums, culture, history and food the world has to offer. I like to spend time outdoors playing golf, hiking, biking and running. When I’m home, I like to work on projects around the house and try new recipes.

*Registered Professional Engineer in MN and ND.

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