Steinberg set to step down from consulting engineers post

Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO) is on the lookout for a new top administrator following the February 2018 retirement of Chief Executive Officer Barry Steinberg, P.Eng., C.E.T.

Steinberg, who joined CEO in January 2010, is stepping down after a long career in engineering and executive management. He announced his plan to retire in the fall of 2017, giving CEO six months to come up with a successor.

Steinberg leaves CEO well positioned for growth, expansion and influence with the provincial government. “What I’m proud of is that I’ve built an organization that doesn’t really need me,” Steinberg told Engineering Dimensions. “What I mean by that is when the new CEO comes in, he or she can rest assured that they have an organization they can operate, and he or she can focus on the progress they want to achieve. I feel good that I’ve left a strong organization with a very good staff.”

Steinberg’s key accomplishments as head of the 220-firm consulting engineers’ organization included achieving the goals of its latest strategic plan and raising the CEO profile within government, the engineering community and the public in general.

“Things are looking very good as I step down,” Steinberg says. “The members wanted profile, they wanted visibility, [and] they wanted to be considered important by both government and clients. I think we’re doing that. We’ve made a lot of changes on the government relations side of things and on the business risk side of things.”

Before joining CEO in 2010, Steinberg served as director of marketing for the Ontario Real Estate Association. Since graduating from the University of Toronto in 1982 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, Steinberg has had a varied career in manufacturing, marketing and government relations.

It was this latter skillset that became invaluable to PEO as it established its Government Liaison Committee (GLC) in 2011. As the first-ever chair of the GLC, Steinberg brought a wealth of government relations experience to the fold. “I think the relationship we had with government at CEO allowed me to be more productive at [PEO’s] GLC and then focus on regulatory issues, which I always believed in, and I know PEO believes it should stick to regulatory issues as well,” Steinberg adds. “We were very active in government relations with the consulting engineers and I think that helped me work with the GLC as it evolved.”

Jeannette ChauP.Eng., PEO’s manager, government liaison programs, worked extensively with Steinberg through the GLC and notes his value to the committee: “Barry brought an understanding of the consulting engineering field that was helpful to understanding that side of the regulatory environment. He was a respected man with an understanding of the issues, which enabled him to work well with the various organizations in the engineering community.”

Rex MeadleyP.Eng., current chair of CEO, says Steinberg’s government relations work was a bonus for both the consulting engineers and PEO. “Barry has always been highly regarded and respected by all his peers. He has developed a very significant network of all the people our industry touches at all levels, especially among government officials.”

Meadley also cited Steinberg’s emphasis on meeting CEO’s strategic objectives. “In my mind, Barry’s great accomplishment has been moving CEO more in line with the strategic plan and operationalizing that plan to better CEO’s strategic goals on advocacy, business practices and member engagement.”

Over the years, Steinberg has sat on a number of committees, including the Advisory Board for the Ontario Provincial Standards for Roads and Public Works, PEO’s Consulting Engineer Designation Committee and the Advocacy Priorities Committee at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. He was also chair of the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario for two terms.

Steinberg anticipates the consulting engineers will maintain healthy relations with PEO and other stakeholders in engineering. “I am fine with the CEO-PEO relationship, but we don’t see eye to eye on everything,” he says. “I don’t think that should have any impact on a good relationship. You don’t have to agree on everything to have a good relationship.”

Steinberg will remain on some boards after he retires but plans to spend more time with his wife, children and three grandchildren. He also plans to devote more time to his music. “I am a drummer in a blues band called Willful Blues,” he says. “We play Chicago, Texas and west coast blues plus some swing. Willful Blues has been together for nine years and we plan to record when I retire.”