Construction Management Association of America (CMAA)
The value of education
Business View Magazine interviews Andrea S. Rutledge, CAE, President & CEO of CMAA, for our focus on the Construction Management Industry
The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) is an industry association dedicated to the practice of professional construction management. CMAA represents more than 17,000 members including federal/state/local government and private sector owners, construction consultants, technology suppliers, academia, and legal organizations all with a common goal: to improve the nation’s infrastructure.
The association has a bold mission of advancing professional construction and program management worldwide, through the promotion of construction management as a profession and the use of qualified construction managers on projects and programs. CMAA seeks to ensure that all professionals are prepared to succeed, regardless of the scope, scale, or complexity of any project or program.
CMAA is dedicated to career-long education and professional development, beginning with the Construction Manager-in-Training (CMIT®) program, through the Certified Construction Manager (CCM®) credential for the most accomplished construction management practitioners, and beyond to continuing education for advanced professionals. CMAA is the lead society for accreditation of professional degree programs in construction management by ABET. Working through ABET, CMAA is able to make a significant contribution to developing a qualified, professional workforce.
Andrea S. Rutledge, CAE, President & CEO of CMAA, recently spoke with Business View Magazine about the thriving construction management industry and the association she is proud to lead. Her valuable insights are based on experience and passion.
BVM: Can you give us an overview of CMAA?
Rutledge: “I’ve been with CMAA since 2017, when I became the third Chief Executive Officer and the first woman. CMAA was founded in 1982 during a time when there was a blooming of professional societies and specialized trade associations. For, CMAA that was an opportunity to differentiate construction management as a professional service by setting standards and building a body of knowledge, distinct from engineering, or architecture, or general contracting.
“Construction management is both an art and a science. You must have both the technical knowledge: scheduling, estimating, safety, quality, scope, and function. And you also must have management and leadership skills: managing human, financial, and information resources; managing risk; and leading diverse and inclusive teams.
“We have over 17,000 members across the spectrum of construction management roles and responsibilities. We have individual practitioners, which includes independent consultants. We have people who own small firms, and we have large corporations. We have owner organizations who are members – the Army Corps of Engineers, for example, the Department of Veterans Affairs. Whiting Turner is a contracting company, MBP is a service provider firm.”
BVM: What are the biggest challenges in the industry for construction managers?
Rutledge: “They are similar to the challenges faced by a lot of others in the construction industry. Innovation, productivity, the use of technology – the accelerating use of drones, augmented reality, virtual reality, digital trends – all of those tools. And then delivering; really understanding what project owners want and being responsive to their needs.
“Not every construction manager works on every type of project. Some work exclusively on transportation projects like highways and bridges, some exclusively on water infrastructure projects, some work for a variety of clients, others for only a couple of clients, some work with only private clients. And understanding risk tolerances and mitigation etc. is different in every project.”
BVM: What services does CMAA deliver?
Rutledge: “We spend all of our time and effort in delivering professional education, certification, and engagement. Our Construction Manager Certification Institute offers a Certified Construction Manager (CCM) credential. We also have a Construction Manager-in-Training credential. The CCM credential is an important mark of an individual’s experience – it essentially demonstrates that they have met requirements for experience, education, and examination. And they are maintaining that certification. We have over 5,000 owners and service providers who hold that credential.
“I tell everyone that the value of certification isn’t just to the individual, it’s to the partnership. For example, if you’re the city water authority, that makes you an owner. And there are people who work for the owner and manage projects, and often what you see is one project manager in an owner organization managing multiple projects or programs. The advantage of that person having a CCM, and then preferring CCMs for the contracts to manage specific projects or programs, means that everybody is using the same words to mean the same thing. The credential not only tells you about the person’s qualifications to the profession, it also gives you a common vocabulary.
“People go to school and come into the profession knowing estimating, scheduling, safety, and quality but then they also become responsible for business development, talent management, financing, and contract administration. We provide education in those areas too.”
BVM: How do you communicate with the membership?
Rutledge: “Like a lot of associations, we have publications, we have a communications vehicle, we have an app, we’re on social media… we’re always looking for ways to communicate and to encourage members to communicate with each other.
“We’ve been offering webinars online for quite some time. Our Professional Construction Management course (PCM), up until last year, was offered face to face. It’s offered two ways now: The in-person environment is three full days, and the virtual environment is five half days. There is also a self-paced, three-week online option.
“We also have MCX (Member Communication Experience). Three years ago, I challenged our communications team to give up ink and paper and they came back with MCX. The distinction between it and our monthly “Punch List” newsletter is that with the Punch List everybody got the same thing in the same order. But with MCX you get three articles – the first two are unique to the individual member, based on your profile. And article number three – goes to everyone.”
BVM: How has COVID-19 impacted your members?
Rutledge: “We undertook a study in the fall of 2020, asking a small group of members the same questions every month for seven months. Basic questions such as: How is this affecting your backlog? When do you think your volume of work will come back to pre-pandemic levels? How is this affecting your staff? And we’ve been tracking the changes in those responses over time.
“What we’re seeing is that state by state, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, the answer is different. It largely depended on whether each U.S. jurisdiction treated construction as an essential service. In those that did, our members had to establish safety protocols for having people on the jobsite. They either used the CDC guidelines, or they worked in collaboration with the owner, especially healthcare owners. Our members were very generous about sharing with each other.
“Where it was not essential, projects slowed down or shut down in some cases, but they didn’t stay that way for very long. In Pennsylvania, for example, a lot of road projects were suspended but that only lasted about a month and a half. What we’re hearing from our members is either that their volume of work is already at pre-pandemic levels or it will be within 12 months.
“For CMAA, the pandemic accelerated our digital strategy on almost every front. One of which was making events such as our national conference into virtual events. This September we’re planning a hybrid event – simultaneously face-to-face in Philadelphia and virtually, as well.”
BVM: Five years from now, how do you see the industry and CMAA evolving?
Rutledge: “There are things that are going to change construction management. They have a lot to do with resilience, owner expectations, financing, and the use of technology, particularly analytics. I think all of those are going to change the way projects are designed and delivered. Where I believe CMAA continues to provide support and value to members is by forecasting and scanning the environment. In the association space we call it foresight – to anticipate and identify what those early adopters are and introduce the concept to the members. Essentially, letting them know about what’s coming.
“One of the temptations around technology and innovation is to teach people how to use specific programs. But what we really need is to provide people with a skill set or framework for evaluating the technology options they have available and choosing the right one for the job. There is a lot of work and opportunity in education around making decisions. One of the opportunities we have is to help people learn to use the skills they learned in school to address the problems at hand. And to work together to find solutions.”
AT A GLANCE
Construction Management Association of America (CMAA)
What: An industry association dedicated to professional construction management
Where: Based in Vienna, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC