Through Professional Development Programs
By Lloyd Kennedy
For most of us, graduating from the academic world and becoming a freshman in the business world was both exciting and daunting. And, while we knew we had the “book smarts” to go out into the workforce and succeed, we were completely uneducated about how to navigate job requirements, corporate culture and project management.
At FINFROCK, we set out to transform that experience by instituting a Professional Development Program (PDP). This unique opportunity is offered to qualified candidates with degrees in civil/structural engineering, architecture or building construction and hands-on training in the many services we offer to our clients: design, estimating, drafting, architecture, engineering, manufacturing, quality control, construction, and project management.
I was recruited by FINFROCK for the PDP in January, 2004 as a graduating senior from Penn State with a degree in Civil Engineering. When I joined the firm, I thought I was well-prepared to begin my career in the construction industry. Once I landed on the FINFROCK campus, I quickly realized that there was much more learning to be done. For my first assignment, I put on my hard hat and safety vest, rolled up my sleeves and got to work in the manufacturing department. For the next three months, I learned how we manufacture our precast concrete product. From there, I began working in the construction department. For the next nine months, I got my hands (and boots) dirty working on an office building project in Orlando and then managed a parking garage in South Florida as the job superintendent.
After one year with the company, I still hadn’t made it into the office. But, I had been given a unique learning opportunity in a new sort of classroom: one without walls and boundaries. The PDP offered me a holistic view of our business, and one that would yield long-term benefits for both the participant and the company.
I continued this learning experience by working in the Design Department as a precast concrete drafter, design engineer, and project engineer. Each of these roles solidified my understanding of how our company functions. Upon “graduating” from the program, I continued to work as a project engineer for many years.
Twelve years later, as Executive Vice President of Design, I oversee a department of more than 50 employees that work directly or indirectly for me. In fact, most of our executives have experienced at least a part of FINFROCK’s development program.
Architectural Project Manager Emily Jones is one recent hire who completed the training. “The PDP process opened my eyes to the elaborate coordination necessary between all departments to successfully complete a project. The field and office knowledge I gained through my rotations will help with future projects as I advance towards becoming an architect.”
The program fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork focused on “the greater good” of the project rather than perpetuating a silo approach that is the industry norm. The camaraderie also expedites the project delivery process by preventing problems downstream.
Guidance Through Mentorship
When graduates are exposed to the construction, manufacturing and design components of FINFROCK, they become enlightened about which career path will best suit their skillset. In fact, some of our participants who have completed the process change course and decide to pursue a different career path than originally anticipated.
To continue the path of learning and cross-fields communication, we added a Mentor Program to complement the PDP. Mentors are employees with extensive cross-training experience, most often through the PDP, who can continue to guide and assist employees coming up through the organization. The feedback enables participants to share their concerns and ideas for program improvement, and enables FINFROCK to gain optimum results from the program.
The Design-Build industry is always evolving, and we pride ourselves in staying at its forefront.
We recognize that having educated, empowered personnel is imperative and also is what sets us apart from other firms. We value our employees and, more importantly, we need their input about how we can improve our workplace and processes. With these employee-focused learning and communication programs, we are able to attract and retain talented professionals who realize that there are multiple paths to success here.
Lloyd Kennedy is the Executive Vice President of Design at FINFROCK, a leader in the design-build project delivery system. The Professional Development Program at FINFROCK provides qualified candidates with experience in a variety of challenging environments. For more information, visit FINFROCK.com/about/careers or email email@example.com.