Pie and Planning: Essential Ingredients for Career Success

If you’ve been even the least bit active in ASCE during the last few years, then you’ve probably seen Elizabeth Ruedas, P.E., QISP, ENV SP, M.ASCE. A project engineer for CNC Engineering, shuttling between offices in Irvine and City of Industry in Southern California, Ruedas organizes, presents at, or attends an ASCE event seemingly every single week.

Having served in 16 different ASCE roles since 2014, she’s currently the program chair for ASCE’s Committee on Younger Members and the Orange County Branch president-elect, among other posts. On top of all that, her YouTube channel has earned her two guest appearances this month on the Dr. Oz show.

How does she manage such a busy schedule? She explains here in the inaugural edition of ASCE Member Voices.

In college, I remember celebrating Pi Day, March 14th, with friends by eating a lot of delicious pie, pizza, and reciting as many digits of Pi as we possibly could.

Member Voices RuedasStereotypical nerds? Sure, but no matter what industry we are in, pie is an “essential ingredient” for career success.

No, not the actual dessert; I’m talking about “PIE” used as an acronym.



According to Harvey Coleman’s book Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed, performance represents the value we add to an organization, image our personal brand, and exposure those who know about us and what we do.

Career Success

pie chart

Therefore, it is not what you know or who you know that matters, but rather who knows you.

It turns out career success is predominantly a result of the way that we respond to the opportunities that are presented to us via our network – those who know about us, leadership, those who advocate on our behalf, and mentors who help guide us along the way.

Fortunately, there are various tools, resources, and organizations that help us take full control of our career and set us up for success. I would attribute a lot of my personal growth to ASCE, for example, which has allowed me to improve in each one of the categories outlined in the PIE chart above.

My skills and abilities are constantly improved after attending events and conferences, reading articles, and watching webinars, whether they be technical or focused on soft skills. Similarly, associating with, leveraging, and contributing to ASCE’s brand helps me enhance my own. In the same way, planning events, giving presentations, and writing articles for ASCE gives me visibility, which once again leads to growth.

So, how do we maximize exposure as efficiently as possible? Planning. A lot of planning.

‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’

I carve out time weekly, if not daily, to plan ahead, and do a reflection at the end of each month as well. It not only aids in keeping me organized, motivated, and on track to meet my goals, but it also encourages me to see how I can improve in all aspects of life (e.g., work, family, social, health, spiritually, intellectually, financially). It also allows me to capture special memories, moments, and to express gratitude for all of the good things that happened, no matter how big or small.

The Passion Planner is my planner of choice and one that I highly recommend to others.

I like to tackle my goals the same way that I would an engineering problem (i.e., identify the problem, break it up into manageable pieces, and solve each one individually, while always keeping true to my core values and staying focused on my desired end result). The Passion Planner allows me to do just that.

I want to help inspire, educate, and empower others to help us move toward a more sustainable future.

That statement drives my professional and personal decisions. It makes it easy to say no to tasks that fall outside of that goal, which helps keep me from overcommitting and stretching myself too thin. It also helps me focus my time and energy on the items that I am truly passionate about and which make me happy.

The ASCE Younger Member Leadership Symposium is my favorite event, both as an attendee and now as the event coordinator, and one that aligns perfectly with my goals. It also satisfies each of the categories outlined in the PIE chart above, not only for myself but for the attendees as well. Below is an outline of how we planned last year’s event and an example of how I start to plan all of the larger activities that I partake in.


Action Items:

Item No. Task Owner Status
1 Contact CLM (Article, Panel, Sponsors, Speakers) Liz/Jose Complete
2 Hotel contract (Add one more day) Diana Complete
3 Graphic for website and email blast Liz Complete
4 Budget Spreadsheet (per diem + travel) Diana Complete
5 Confirm registration cut off (45) Liz/Diana Complete
6 Create Facebook Event Liz Complete
7 Order Blocks Liz Complete
8 Share last year’s slides with Rob and get a title for the Supercharge Your Career module Jose Complete
9 Permanent Landing page Diana Next Year
10 Update Website (2016 Agenda as example) Diana Complete
11 Registration and hotel → Add button Diana Complete
12 Create Draft Agenda Liz Complete
13 Dinner Reservations in Reston Liz Not Needed
14 Look into Membership for Communication Styles Liz Not Needed
15 Create Facebook Group Nestor/Liz Complete
16 Technical tour Liz/Jaffer Complete
17 Update Website Diana Complete
18 Contact Mike Sanio (Metro) Leslie Complete
19 Capitol Building Tour Diana Complete
20 Reach out to Kristina Swallow Liz Complete
21 Send email to New Faces Liz Complete
22 Contact Potential Sponsors Kelly Complete
23 Check to see where attendees are from Diana Complete
24 Take a look at budget CYM Complete
25 Review Survey Responses Jose Complete
26 Contact Joe regarding sponsorship Kelly Complete


Are you an ASCE Younger Member or know of any who may be interested in becoming better leaders? If so, check out the “Save the Date” flyer below.

YMLS banner


Like anything in life, you get what you put into it. Planning takes time and energy, but it is an investment toward a better immediate and distant future.

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