THREE Questions: Daniel Cassedy

10/26/2019 5:02 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

THREE Questions is a new blog series highlighting ACRA member firms and their experiences in the CRM industry.

ABOUT OUR MEMBER: Daniel Cassedy is one of the principal cultural resource managers at AECOM, a Fortune-500 engineering and environmental firm that has a CRM group of over 400 archaeologists, historians, and architectural historians in 23 US states as well as Canada, Australia, and the UK. He is currently on ACRA’s Board of Directors and was recently elected to the position of President-elect. Since his first job as a field technician in 1979, Dan has accumulated a broad spectrum of experience at private sector consulting firms, SHPOs, and university applied-research facilities, and he has been with AECOM (formerly URS) since 2000. While Dan’s original academic training at the University of New Hampshire and Binghamton University focused on the prehistory of Northeastern North America, he has a broad range of experience with cultural resources across many time periods and regions, encompassing archaeological sites, standing structures, and cultural landscapes from Alaska to Florida. He is a strong believer that CRM research should be shared as widely as possible with both the public and the academic community—his published articles and conference presentations derived from contract work can be viewed here.

When engaging a general audience, what stands out as the one thing people are most surprised to learn about your company or the CRM industry?

DC: After 40 years in this business, I am still surprised when people are surprised to learn that most archaeological studies in the US are done by paid professional consultants for compliance purposes. Somehow, the image of the tweed clad, pipe-smoking professor out with students on a summer dig is still strong in the public imagination.

Do you have a favorite piece of personal experience that is your “go-to” for engaging clients and/or the public as to why CRM work is important?

DC: A client HAD to use a specific field for a construction staging area to support a multimillion dollar Superfund remediation project, and our survey determined it contained intact remains from a French & Indian war fort. There were no reasonable alternative locations, but through intensive archaeological evaluations, design modifications, and agency negotiations, we were able help them identify portions of the field that could be used for the project. This significant site was preserved, and the public health was improved by the cleanup project.

We all know that most CRM staff believe in what we do, but how do you engage those under you in the business aspects of your firm? Do you find that an increased awareness of the challenges of running a business is related to professional satisfaction, employee retention, and/or project success?
DC: Yes—our company uses an online project management system that integrates estimating, budget management, scheduling, invoicing, and quality controls. As junior staff are given training in this system and assigned responsibilities for reviewing and updating it, they become more aware of what factors affect profitability, and we also try to show them how a more profitable company can afford to provide the benefits/perks and working conditions that are important to them.

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