Carol Bellinger, SR/WA,
Associate Vice President,
HDR Engineering, Inc. and
Real Estate Services
Director, HDR, Inc.
As with many of their clients, HDR is feeling the
impacts of a retiring generation. HDR developed
an entry level recruiting and training program to
help alleviate existing and future staffing challenges.
According to Associate Vice President, Carol
Bellinger, SR/WA, “We recruit motivated, innovative
people who see challenges as opportunities and take
satisfaction from solving problems. We recruit and
train individuals from local high schools, colleges
and pools of licensed realtors. This provides HDR a
good cross section of the communities we work and
live in while promoting HDR’s commitment to the
Providing professional and technical training for
right of way personnel strengthens our industry,
improves public service and allows existing staff to
clearly see paths to desired career levels.
HDR has numerous programs used to recruit
and retain employees, including a referral awards
program, a flexible onboarding program that
helps new hires integrate swiftly and confidently,
a company-wide awards program, a service award
program and college reimbursement. Additionally,
HDR has an officer program to provide opportunities
for employees to be promoted to an officer of the
company, a professional associates program where
individuals are elected as experts in their respective
service areas, as well as a fellowship program to help
employees pursue their ideas and foster innovation.
According to Bellinger, “The future of HDR relies on
the innovative perspectives that young professionals
bring in developing solutions for our clients. Our
investment in the next generation is important for
HDR and contributes to the next generation of
professionals for our industry.”
Catherine Colan Muth, CEO of O.R.
Colan Associates and ORC Utility &
Infrastructure Land Services, LLC.
ORC has a long tradition of developing and delivering
training for the right of way industry, beginning
with Mr. Colan’s first training course in the 1970’s
entitled The Art of Professional Negotiations. For
more than 40 years, ORC has developed courses for the National Highway
Institute (NHI), the training arm of the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA). In 2016, ORC teamed with IRWA to provide development of
online training courses for the IRWA Online University. In these many
ways, ORC has contributed to the training and development of the next
generation of right of way professionals for our industry.
Beginning in 2005, ORC recognized that the retirement of the Baby
Boomer generation was going to create a shortfall of trained right of
way professionals. As the company continued to grow, they were finding
it more difficult to find experienced right of way agents. In response
to this, they expanded their internal training program and began to
recruit recent college graduates. ORC's Jr. Agent Training Program is a
three-year structured curriculum that includes internal courses as well
as courses from IRWA, NHI and the Appraisal Institute. The program
allows substitution of state courses when required by states like Ohio.
For the first six months, a Jr. Agent is on corporate overhead while they
focus on completing a group of selected training courses and assigned field
tasks. The training begins with a one-week overview introductory course
of the Uniform Act that ends with a day of instruction on plan reading.
Each Jr. Agent is assigned a mentor and is provided a written learning plan.
The Jr. Agent generally graduates to an Agent 1 position after six months
and continues their training plan over a period of three years.
More than 20 percent of ORC’s employees and managers originated
from the Jr. Agent Training program. Recently, ORC has focused on
recruitment of second career people who have relevant experience in
other areas and can quickly transition into the right of way industry. The
search for second career applicants has also focused on those coming out
of the military. Last year, ORC began an Internship Program that invites
college students to work part time while earning college credits as a way
of exploring a career in right of way.
According to the company’s CEO, Catherine Colan Muth, “These
programs represent a substantial financial investment, but ORC realizes
that this investment is critical to our ability to continue to grow and to
meet the needs of our industry.” J