"In order to meet the demand for innovation in the marketplace, we must continue to teach the skills of imagination in the classroom."

Our second testimony on April 5 came from Mark Drury, Vice President of Business Development for Shapiro and Duncan, a Rockville-based mechanical contracting company. We met him last year, when we produced the IGNITE! Conference on Transforming Business With Creativity. Here’s what he had to say about the role of creativity and innovation in the workforce:

Good evening President Ervin and honored Councilmembers:
Thank you all for the great work you do every day for the citizens of this County and for your perseverance and effort in long days like today.
My name is Mark Drury, Vice President of Business Development for Shapiro and Duncan, a 35th year Rockville mechanical contractor. We employ locally 435 individuals who help support their 435 families putting a lot of meals on the table every week.
We take a great deal of pride in the workforce we assemble and the quality of the work that they do.  Our workforce is extremely diverse and includes a broad range of skills; abilities; and levels of training and education.
When we are hiring for any position we look at qualifications but the differentiator in whether or not the position is offered is for the most part based upon an evaluation of that individual’s attitude toward life.  Are they confident? Do they take pride in their work? Are they problem solvers? Do they work well in a team environment? Those who can present those attributes are most often offered a spot on our team.
Through in-school and after-school programs, the arts and humanities sector nurtures creativity and imagination in our youth and these experiences foster the development of the abilities and characteristics that are so valued in our business: innovation, perseverance, team work, creative problem solving and the ability to entertain new possibilities thinking outside of the box.
We believe that creativity is one of the most important leadership qualities and that a creative workforce is better prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise and revenue models, and that innovation is a “crucial capability.”
In order to meet the demand for innovation in the marketplace, we must continue to teach the skills of imagination in the classroom.
As citizens of this great nation we are concerned that America, a historic leader in innovation, is falling behind as it devotes less attention to developing the essential skills of imagination and innovation. All around us matters of national and international importance cry out for creative solutions, from saving the Chesapeake Bay to containing the nuclear crisis in Japan.
We provide innovative solutions to complex and demanding construction projects in this area everyday.  We know how critical the creativity of our workforce is to our success, so we constantly search for that as an attribute which separates an individual from the masses and ask that they join our successful team. We see firsthand how creativity fosters tomorrow’s innovative workforce and how the spirit of entrepreneurship is characterized by boldness, risk-taking, and, above all, creativity.
We know that you have difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks as you finalize the FY12 Operating Budget and balance County expenses and revenue.  We understand that cuts must be made and that they must be across the board.  We ask for your continued support of the creative sector in Montgomery County ensuring the ready availability of a creative workforce for businesses in Montgomery County which helps maintain our competitive advantage.
Thank you for your time, your patience and your understanding.

Updated December 6, 2011: Support the development of the 21st century workforce by contributing just $12 to AHCMC’s 2012 Overture! Your donation will support AHCMC’s work in supporting arts integration residencies, capacity-building workshops and other services for Montgomery County’s cultural community and creative workforce.