Brian Vinchesi occupies multiple chairs throughout the nation’s irrigation industry, but he rarely has time to sit down. He serves as the Irrigation Association‘s (IA) president and chair of the IA’s certification board and Smart Water Application Technologies Initiative. He is also chair of the Irrigation Foundation and president of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants.

So how did Vinchesi build his way to these leadership roles? After obtaining his bachelor’s of science degree in agricultural engineering from Montana State University in 1980, followed by two years of graduate studies at Oregon State University, he founded Irrigation Consulting Inc. in 1988 in Massachusetts. The company has since grown to be one of the nation’s leading irrigation consulting and design firms.

Specializing in irrigation consulting for large commercial clients and golf courses, Vinchesi is in demand around the globe, consulting for a variety of new and renovated irrigation projects. For more than 20 years, Vinchesi has been educating people on proper irrigation practices and saving water. He has taught turf management at the University of Massachusetts, Rutgers University and The Ohio State University. He also shares his experiences as an IA and Golf Course Superintendents of America instructor. Awarded the 2009 EPA WaterSense Partner of the Year for his commitment to water conservation, Vinchesi has also written hundreds of articles for various trade journals and published more than 20 professional papers.

How would you describe your style of leadership and why does this work for you?

I lead by mentoring. Tasks and prospects are assigned and I provide support as needed. Working collaboratively provides successful outcomes. I travel regularly so a task-driven approach is essential. I check with people to see what is being accomplished and by when so we are always aware of what is expected.

How do you work at becoming better at leadership?

When I take on leadership positions, I learn from each one. There is nothing like experience to train and make you better. By accepting leadership responsibilities and opportunities and watching others lead, I have become a better leader by being calm and learning to compromise.

Who are your leadership role models and why?

My role models are those who have mentored me. Jim Barrett, a fellow irrigation consultant, sets the bar we all strive to achieve. Dr. Ronald Sneed, professor emeritus from North Carolina State University, taught me how to behave in a leadership position. I taught with him for more that 20 years. He is a true southern gentleman with an abundance of knowledge that he’s willing to share with others. I try to do the same.

What leadership books inspire you and why?

I have reviewed a lot of information from Michael Angelo Caruso, even though it’s not delivered in book form. The wide variety of information includes how to lead and help you grow your business through many thought-provoking questions. The information is timelier than books, delivered via blogs and newsletters.

What, as a leader, have you done that gives you pride and why?

I am most proud of my leadership role in volunteerism. I have taught a lot of young people about irrigation, as well as some older ones. A good example of one of my rewarding volunteer projects is the judging of a competition and teaching of an irrigation workshop for the National Association of Landscape Professionals collegiate competition. I’ve been doing this for the past 14 years.

What leadership words inspire you most and why?

Being recognized for your success is no reason to stop succeeding. I know everyone says this, but I firmly believe that when you volunteer, you get back more than you give.

If you were to give young leaders one piece of advice, what would that be?

Pay attention and learn by listening to others. It took me a long time to “shut up” and listen. I still learn every day from others.

In a leadership capacity, where do you see yourself in five years?

I still see myself as mentoring students and others interested in irrigation or saving water. It’s my passion. I love to teach so I see no reason to ever stop.