The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention, and in 2006 the continued need for new talent spurred a shift in our approach to hiring and training. Our traditional assistant project management role wasn’t generating talent fast enough to sustain HITT’s growth, nor were the candidates gaining the critical skills needed to be successful in operations.
Executive Vice President John Britt devised a solution and developed a napkin-sketch plan for what would ultimately become the Project Engineer (PE) Program. As John explains it, “The core of my idea was that anyone with less than two years of commercial construction experience needed to spend 12 months in the field before becoming an assistant project manager.”
John initially received some resistance from his peers, but he persisted. “I wanted to shift our approach from reactionary hiring to developing a pipeline of talent,” he continued. His concept caught momentum, and in 2006 our Project Engineer program was officially launched. After a few years, the program was thriving. Project engineers were being promoted to assistant project managers better prepared and with stronger skills gained from working alongside our superintendents.
The program proved its worth, but John knew that to continue to grow our team, we needed an even more structured program that would recruit young talent early in their education and ignite their passion for building before graduation.
Together with Manager Jacqui Jackson and the HITT recruiting team, the PE program evolved into the HITT Futures program. This program is a lifecycle approach to recruiting, developing, and retaining construction management talent. Starting with interns as young as rising sophomores, HITT Futures participants now move through four developmental phases.
“We have a full five years dedicated to developing our operations team members,” said Jacqui, who manages the HITT Futures program. “It’s truly a differentiator for us, and has been instrumental in attracting and retaining talent in the critical project engineer, assistant project manager, and assistant superintendent roles.” While the program continues to turn out fresh talent, both John and Jacqui expect it will continue to evolve with the company. They recently augmented the program to include more development for site operations team members, focusing on retaining talent in the field.
A program that started with just two project engineers has now trained more than 300 team members. Although John’s key accomplishments include executive leadership for business sectors such as Government and Commercial Services, he believes that the HITT Futures program has been his most important impact on the company. “I’ve been in construction for 30 years, and this is the best thing I’ve ever built,” he said.