John Seychuk (1931-Present)

John was a founding father when he joined H.Q. Golder & Associates at the age of 29.

During over 50 years of association with Golder Associates, he progressively served as a Principal, COO, President, CEO, Chairman and Senior Principal. After setting up his own geo-engineering consulting practice in 1996, John continued to work closely with Golder as a Senior Consultant, providing services in liability risk minimization and non-adjudicative Alternative Dispute Resolution process for geo-engineering disputes.  His ‘must read’ papers for all geotechnical and geo-environmental engineers focus on understanding risk, risk minimization and forensic engineering.

Writing in Golder’s 50th anniversary historical overview in 2010 about the various Presidents, John Boyd noted: “John would do whatever was necessary for the firm no matter how difficult it might be personally. He set high standards in this respect for himself. When Vic stepped down in the early 80s, John was what the company needed; his contribution was to help Golder work through the difficult years quickly and get ready for the growth that followed.”

John regularly talks passionately about the vision and values that shaped the company. John will emphasize that in the early days of Golder Associates, frugality was the order of the day and there were tough economic times when the initial owners had to go to the bank to underwrite/guarantee a loan to keep the operations “afloat”. When speaking, John often uses one of his “farm-boy” analogies. For example, if asked how to describe our business operations, he liked to use his early experience milking cows sitting on a three legged stool e.g.

  • 1st leg: clients
  • 2nd leg: our people
  • 3rd leg: our corporate company

Expanded this as follows – “We need the stability of all three legs for a successful business operation”:

  • Clients are the most important leg of the stool, the source of our continued existence. Clients expect consultants to have a clear understanding of what their problems are and to provide a range of solutions with anticipated risks (never giving unqualified recommendations in a report).
  • Our people are our most valuable asset and resource; senior staff need to be good role models and encouraging mentors.
  • The third leg is our Company, the corporate coordination body, responsible for the commercially oriented activities of our business, including the provision of adequate support services to the organization to keep it viable and profitable. However, we must be careful not to become too bureaucratic with a heavy “top down” administrative approach, instead of our traditional flat Collegial structure.

John also stresses that Golder staff should:

  • get involved in community affairs – as he was;
  • get involved in politics, in the various political parties in a country;
  • get connected to universities – links that have led to many key staff joining Golder.

His office door has affixed to it: “The most important and effective tool in the operation of a professional business still remains the human “face to face” client relationship”.

Many have discovered that, despite his nickname of “Big Bad John”, John is, at heart, a deeply principled, caring person.

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