February 01, 2024
Successful partnerships depend on the strengths each team brings to the table. At Bonton Associates, we believe that running an operationally sound firm better equips us to deliver exceptional value across every aspect of a collaborative project, from the partner relationship and client experience to the quality of the deliverable and the stakeholders it serves.
In this third post of our four-part series spotlighting Bonton’s eight firm principals, we share thoughts and insights from our operations leaders — two highly experienced professionals who understand and appreciate the efficiency, structure and reliability their group adds to working partnerships.
Director of Operations LaMiesa Bonton, MPA joined Bonton in 2015 after spending more than a decade in public healthcare administration. Serving the public health and well being through federal and state agencies, she believes, ties directly to our firm’s public infrastructure work. “Both of these pursuits ensure that populations can live, grow and thrive in safe communities,” she says. “It’s some of the most human work you will find.”
With Bonton, LaMiesa strives for a comprehensive, thorough operations approach, one that creates stability through living processes that support the overall health of the firm. This philosophy plays out in both Bonton’s day-to-day business functions and with partner firms, consultants and other project stakeholders. “Our partners should know we are cohesive — that we all aim for and work toward the end goal in the same way. How we act internally should mirror how we collaborate with others externally,” she says.
LaMiesa looks to Bonton’s ongoing partnership with Burns & McDonnell on the Clean Water Shreveport (CWS) program and as a shining example of what well-matched teams can accomplish. (CWS is a multi-year effort that helps protect Shreveport’s environment and improve its water and sewer infrastructure, in compliance with EPA and Louisiana DEQ regulations.) “Winning this project was our largest to date at the time, and we couldn’t have asked for a better partner,” she recalls. “We both committed high levels of resources and time, and we positioned our respective strengths in a way that offered immense value to the client. The city placed a great deal of trust in us and we’ve embraced the opportunity to truly shine by helping them address and resolve real issues. Burns & McDonnell has been a phenomenal partner and mentor to our firm.”
Working closely with LaMiesa is Marston Fowler, Bonton’s Chief Operating Officer since August 2022. “Marston brings a great deal of empathy and relatability to Bonton, both of which are foundational to our culture” LaMiesa remarks. “He’s also a strategic thinker with a solution-focused mentality, and that serves us well inside our walls and with project partners.”
Marston is a labor attorney by trade and came to Bonton after more than four years serving as COO and general counsel with a Baton Rouge professional services firm. He enjoys being a part of the throughline between traditional administrative functions and seeing how these improve client outcomes and employee opportunities. “HR initiatives like compensation plans and professional development improve other functions like recruiting and retention,” he explains. “They also directly impact project execution and both the client and partner experience. And when our talent levels and capabilities rise, this expands our business development and growth opportunities, as well.”
“Our main objective with project partners is to be clear, reliable, and of service,” Marston says. “We find that partnerships grounded in collaboration and teamwork achieve the most successful outcomes. This requires more time and effort than working on specific tasks in silos, but when we approach problem-solving and strategic decision-making as a team, we deliver higher client value and increase the team’s sense of ownership in successful outcomes. When our internal systems and processes deliver consistent administrative execution, our teams have easier access to the data our partners need to make faster, higher quality decisions that maximize the client experience.”
As the newest member of our operations leadership team, Marston quickly recognized LaMiesa’s value to the firm. “She has great savvy and range,” he says. “She can handle any business challenge, get to the root cause of the issue very quickly, and address it efficiently. This helps us continually develop new and better solutions, whether it’s for routine, day-to-day challenges or complex, client-facing strategic issues.”
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