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Steinberg set to retire from Consulting Engineers of Ontario

Angela Gismondi
Steinberg set to retire from Consulting Engineers of Ontario
Barry Steinberg

Barry Steinberg is leaving his “home” at Consulting Engineers of Ontario (CEO).

The chief executive officer will be retiring effective Feb. 23, 2018, having served as CEO since 2010.

"When I first joined CEO I had a job with the Ontario Real Estate Association. It was just a casual inquiry, it looked interesting to me, but the minute I walked in I felt like I was home," said Steinberg. "I was representing people who are part of my profession and I was very proud and happy to be able to do that. For me it’s been a true privilege to be able to serve the Consulting Engineers of Ontario."

One of his most significant accomplishments and his first order of business was operationalizing CEO’s strategic plan and making the plan part of what the association does every day.

"In order to be driven by a plan you have to operationalize it, so everything we do is based on that plan and that plan translates our mission into reality," said Steinberg.

"They (CEO) told me that they didn’t have the kind of exposure, recognition, presence at government at municipalities, with the clients. They wanted to be more influential in driving policy legislation and regulation, they wanted to be more influential in dealing with oppressive contract language at the public client level. Over time, I’m happy to say that we as a team did achieve that and now everybody knows who we are and they do come to us when they want our opinion."

He has helped make many changes to the organization over the years, which is why people call him the "change agent," he stated.

"You tell me where you want to go and I will determine how to get there and then we’ll get there," explained Steinberg. "In some ways that may be a bit of a cliche but that’s what I do. That’s what I have always done. Earlier in my career I found that I was often parachuted into hostile territory and required to create progress. I enjoy it even though it’s not always pleasant."

While he is in charge of leading the team, he admits he could not have done it without the staff, boards and volunteers at CEO. Steinberg has committed to stay on for six months to help with the transition.

"I can walk away with confidence knowing that on the government relations side, on the business practices side, on the member engagement side, the teams are there. They are strong and they are going to be able to do that work," said Steinberg.

"They’ll have to find new leadership and the leadership may have a different focus and that’s good too because that’s progress. The new leader can rest assured knowing that the team is in place to be able to do all the things they are supposed to do without me there.

"The new CEO can move forward and try and break new ground."

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, the consulting engineer designation committee and the government liaison committee for Professional Engineers Ontario as well as the advocacy priorities committee at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. He was also chair of the Construction and Design Alliance of Ontario (CDAO) for two terms which he said was "a strong mechanism for giving the industry a common voice."

Steinberg will remain on some boards after he retires but plans to spend a lot more time with his wife, children and three grandchildren. He is also going to devote more time to his music.

Clive Thurston, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association, worked closely with Steinberg ever since the establishment of the CDAO.

"It’s been a pleasure working with him. He’s a consummate professional and we worked very hard on getting the alliance up and running. He played a very significant role in being able to get the alliance to where it is today," Thurston commented. "He has been our leader at meetings with Infrastructure Ontario and other major owners that we’ve dealt with on the procurement of construction and design services and his expertise and leadership were well respected and appreciated by the rest of us."

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