A Journey from the “Dinosaur’s Age” to the Chief Cost Estimator!

Have you ever wondered how “Project Controls” was performed back in the “Dinosaur’s Age,” when the computers didn’t exist?

The “Age of Computer” began at some point in the mid-1990’s. Do you remember the big computers back then?

I still remember the super large computers that I used to work with at the University back in 1997!

I remember the first time that my brother created his email account and was talking about email and the Internet! I had no clue what he was talking about! Now he is a computer genius and executive vice president of a big IT company!

Due to my brother’s curiosity and interest in computers and programming, I got exposed to computer and the Internet early on, but I had no idea about the impact of computer and Internet in today’s age.

Now I cannot imagine how we can live without a computer, the Internet, and our smartphones!

Let’s move backward to the pre-computer age, the “Dinosaur’s Age,” as Ralph Buckles, likes to call it! Have you ever wondered how people were doing their jobs back then?

How were cost estimates prepared?

How were project schedules developed?

How were projects managed?!

Someone with over 30 years of experience can only answer these questions!

Someone like Ralph Buckles, with more than three decades experience in Project Controls!

Ralph started his career in Project Controls as a Cost Estimator back in the “Dinosaur’s Age,” when the term “Project Controls” didn’t even exist. He used to write Cost Estimates on paper! No Excel or computers back then! Fast forward 30 years, he is now a Chief Cost Estimator.

Ralph has been in Project Controls all of his career life! He experienced almost all areas of Project Controls; planning & scheduling, cost estimating, risk management, document control, contract administration, and dispute analysis and resolution.

Project Controls field has provided Ralph’s family with a steady, reasonable living. However, he used to make his wife mad the first 15 years of their marriage, as he wanted to detail out his skill sets by experiencing new fields or new industries every 3-5 years! There is no wonder why he has such a diverse experience history in various industries such as commercial, military, industrial, energy, environmental, transit, telecommunications, transportation, and infrastructure work.

Throughout a series of questions that I asked Ralph in our recent phone interview, I’ve got to learn so much from his insights and experience in Project Controls.

Listen to his interview here. It is well worth 1 hour of your time!

Here are the top 5 lessons and takeaways from my interview with Ralph Buckles, a well-rounded seasoned Project Controls professional back in the “Dinosaur’s Age”:

1. Get Field Trained

Ralph believes that Project Controllers need to be field trained. This makes them absolutely invaluable to the project team.

Field experience is vital for your success in Project Controls. Having experience in an actual construction environment provides you with an essential job site education on how projects are executed. You will gain hands-on experience and education in the field that you don’t get in the home office.

2. Never stop learning

The secret to success in Project Controls and any other field is continuous learning and growth.

Never stop learning, no matter how seasoned or junior you are. Read, read, read… apply, apply, apply. This is how you can accelerate your growth.

3. Change your paradigm

Change your paradigm and be open to better ways of doing things. Always be open to change.

Don’t stick to your rigid ideas and how you do things.

If someone asks you “why we should do it like this?” or “why shouldn’t we try something new?”, don’t use the term “This is how we always did it!” This immediately shows that you are not willing to approach the situation with an open mind, as stated by Ralph.

Embrace the change, shift your paradigm, and be creative.

4. Move from the position of “I” to the “Team

Nothing great was ever accomplished alone. Move from the position of “I” to the “Team” with integrity and collaboration.

Ask yourself “how can I work with a team?”, “How can I grow the organization?”

Be responsible for what you say you are going to do but willing to come alongside with your team as well.

The earlier you make that shift, the better your life will be. Period.

5. Get a mentor whom you can trust

Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, a mentor is going to kickstart you on the path to achieve it.

When you have a mentor, you are learning from someone who has already arrived at where you want to be.  They know exactly what it takes to get there and what sacrifices need to be made.

You grow so much more when you have a mentor.

If you really want to join the ranks of the top 2% in your career, you have got to model, and learn from the top leaders in your space! Get a mentor.

 

In addition to these five lessons, Ralph shed more light on the following hot topics:

  • How you can diversify your expertise in Project Controls
  • How you can switch from one industry to another, especially when the market is down for a specific industry such as oil & gas at the moment
  • and much more …

Listen to Ralph’s informative interview here or download it at iTunes.

 

About Ralph Buckles

Ralph is a Chief Estimator with B3 Enterprises, the leading pure play global Engineering, Consulting, and Construction Management firm.

Ralph specialty is in Project Controls. He has experience in planning & scheduling, cost estimating, risk management, document control/contract administration, and dispute analysis and resolution. He has over 30 years of experience in commercial, military, industrial, energy, environmental, transit, telecommunication, transportation, and infrastructure work.

Ralph has spent the last 25 years as a Chief Estimator and Scheduler with various contracting firms in the Commercial and Federal Markets doing Lump Sum, Firm Fixed Price Construction Work. The work that he did included detailed cost estimate development with associated schedules. The estimates and schedules were used to negotiate Directed Award Projects for several firms. He has been involved in projects for Mainland USA, Alaska, Hawaii and the Marshel Islands.

He is a contributing author to the Cost Management Standard of Practice for the International Guild of Project Controls for Planning Planet. He was selected as a Project Controls Fellow for the International Guild of Project Controls for his expertise and background in project controls.

Mr. Buckles is active in AACE International (Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering) and the International Guild of Project Controls. He also serves on his Community Township Planning Commission.

Ralph can be reached via his LinkedIn profile.

 

If you have any question from Ralph, please post them down below so he can assist you.

 

 

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