Don Silies - Announcement of Retirement
Dear friends and colleagues,
I am writing to inform you that I am hereby officially announcing my retirement starting May 1, 2018. My last working day as a VDOT employee will be Monday, April 30.
I truly appreciate having had the pleasure of working with you over the course of my almost 41-year tenure with VDOT. I feel like I had two careers with the Department: twenty years in the NOVA District, and then over twenty in Central Office. I came to know most of you in my role as the State Contract Engineer. I have always been extremely proud that you trusted me; so much so that you were willing to talk candidly about your business and how the way VDOT did business, effected yours. Whenever I reached out for help in a crisis or other time of need, I knew I could count on you. You always came through. When I talk to my peers in other states, they are envious of the relationship VDOT has with its contracting partners. I will miss those relationships and interactions.
When I started working as an inspector trainee in Fairfax in 1977, VDOT was hiring for the construction of the new Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway. Inspectors from all over the state were transferred to Fairfax to work on these projects. I never dreamed that I’d spend the rest of my working life with VDOT, but they kept giving me interesting things to do and fascinating people to work with. In addition to I-66, I worked on the initial building of the Dulles Toll Road as well as its subsequent widening. I was responsible for the Loudoun portions of Route 28 and managed VDOT's interests in the very first P3 project—although we didn’t call it that back then—which became the Dulles Greenway. I can proudly say that there are dozens and dozens of other monuments to my direct involvement in NOVA District's construction program. I can similarly point to hundreds of projects and processes that I touched (and, hopefully, improved) during my time in Central Office. We now are rebuilding and widening I-66 in NOVA . I had a small role in hiring the P3 contractor that will do the work. It’s funny to think about how it seems that my work here has come full circle.
One of the things that I am most proud of is being among the first of VDOT’s Leadership Coaches, which more than any other external factor helped to prepare me for my role as a leader. In my role as a Coach, I was privileged to have been involved in the development of many of VDOT's past and current leaders. My purpose in writing this message is really to thank the many people who have helped me achieve success over these long years, and that have changed my life for the better.
I feel confident about leaving the Construction Division in the able hands of a few "old-timers," complemented with many bright, young people offering a new vision and fresh ideas. The world, and transportation are changing rapidly, so it is fitting that I step aside and let progress take its natural course. I will miss being part of this dynamic organization that has treated me so well over the span of my career, but I am content knowing that I made a difference in the time I spent at VDOT.
I am reminded of a story that I used to tell during my leadership classes: “An older man awoke one morning in his beachfront condo to observe that the sand was covered in undulating lifeforms, sparkling in the early morning sun. A closer inspection revealed that the beach was literally blanketed with small, helpless starfish. The man reasoned that the thousands of tiny creatures must have been washed up on the shore during the preceding night’s storm. As he walked out toward the waves, he noticed a little boy at the water's edge tossing the starfish—one at a time—back into the sea. He thought to himself about how fruitless the boy’s effort seemed. As he neared the little boy, he asked, ‘Son, with all these thousands of starfish stranded on this beach, how do you think what you’re doing could possibly make any difference?’ The boy looked into the old man's eyes for only a moment before casting his gaze back down to the struggling starfish stranded on the sand, defenseless against the harsh sun. The little boy reached down, picked up a wiggling starfish, and tossed it into the life-giving sea. He turned back to the old man. With a seriousness well beyond his years, the little boy said to the man, ‘I'll bet I made a difference to that one.’"
Thanks for helping to make a difference in your way.
I welcome you to call or stop by my office during my last couple of weeks here and visit for a bit.
For now, for help please call on Harold Caples, Assistant Director of Contracts at (804) 371-4315.
With best wishes to all,
Don E. Silies
Director of Contracts