Episode 8 – Jayme Connors

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In this episode we interview: Jayme Connors.

Jayme talks at length about her career with Fluor and the different roles and responsibilities she was given along the way. She gave up a career as a professional basketball player to pursue a career in Construction Engineering. She was selected for the ENR California’s 2018 Top Young Professionals. Her career has taken her from California, Texas, Paris and Alaska. Her advice and attitude are relevant to everyone in the Construction industry or in any Project Management role.

Jayme Connors – Linkedin

 

 


Episode Transcription

Kent:                  Welcome everybody to the Construction Career Podcast with Cliff and Kent. Today we’ve got Jayme Connors from Fluor that’s going to talk to us, really our first celebrity on the show, I would say.

Jayme:                  (Ha Ha) celebrity.

Kent:                     You were in the E&R Top 40 Under 40 this year.

Jayme:                  Oh, I was, yeah. That’s right.

Kent:                     So how did that come about? Did they contact you?

Jayme:                  To be honest, I’m not exactly sure. I just know that from our company, I got reached out to saying, hey, they were going to nominate me for it. So it must be that you nominate people-

Kent:                     Somebody nominated you.

Jayme:                  … as you go through it. And so our communications kind of put together the questions I needed to answer, and I kind of gave her my bits and spiel of it and then she kind of-

Kent:                     Fancied it up for you.

Jayme:                  … fancied it up and submitted it. And, I think it was a few months before I ever actually heard back. So we did it last year, at some point, and, yeah, then I got it this year. So, yeah, it was a surprise.

Cliff:                       Just like the Oscars.

Kent:                     There you go.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Nomination, yeah.

Kent:                     For your consideration: Jayme Connors, from Fluor.

Kent:                     Well, so how long have you been with Fluor?

Jayme:                  Just about 13 years. Right out of college, started with them, and have been with them ever since.

Kent:                     Well, let’s talk about getting to that point, first. So you went to school in Vegas.

Jayme:                  Yep.

Kent:                     Which, to me, is a big deal, because I’m also from Nevada.

Cliff:                       High school.

Kent:                     Did I say college?

Jayme:                  No.

Cliff:                       No, you just said school.

Kent:                     What were you doing in high school?

Jayme:                  Played basketball. What kind of got me in the career is I was really into architecture, and they had a lot of design classes, and so I took those.

Jayme:                  But going from high school to college, really it was about basketball. And academics necessarily wasn’t the top of my priorities, and I was lucky enough to have options of where I wanted to go to school, but it strictly was about basketball.

Jayme:                  And I ended up going to Long Beach State for a basketball scholarship, and kind of still had this thing of, “Okay, well, what’s my plan B, because basketball’s plan A.” So I needed something to have that was worth falling back onto, and eventually I ended up getting into construction engineering.

Kent:                     But that wasn’t your first choice?

Jayme:                  It was not my first choice. Architecture truly was my first choice, but Long Beach State didn’t have an architectural program, and so I actually took a class of an Intro to Engineering classes and decided I wanted to go into mechanical, and I really wanted to do hospital instruments and that type of thing.

Jayme:                  The problem is the academic schedule of when my classes were didn’t really work with my basketball schedule. So I ended up having to kind of look at a different program and ended up going into construction engineering, which fell underneath our civil engineering group.

Kent:                     We had a person here that worked for us that had gone to Pomona, and she said the construction engineering was like the stepchild of the civil engineering.

Jayme:                  Yeah. I think it’s probably like that in a lot of programs.

Jayme:                  The one thing I can tell you at Long Beach, and that curriculum, it was probably 80% to 90% civil engineering classes. And then the remaining 10%, besides your general type classes … I remember we did a class in electrical, which was actually a pretty hard class. That’s probably why I remember it. Yeah, so we did that one and, we did a couple of mechanical, and so you kind of really got this good basis of all the different engineering disciplines as well.

Kent:                     Okay. Like you said, not what you were planning on.

Jayme:                  Not at all kind of what I was planning on. My degree was a fall-back plan. My future, I truly saw playing basketball until I couldn’t play anymore.

Jayme:                  And when that time came and I was graduating college, it was during the boom of the construction industry, and so it was really competitive. Companies were coming in and recruiting all the time. And I had gotten an offer from Fluor, actually because of a booster on our basketball team, and introduced me to this guy at Fluor, who wanted to chat with me.

Jayme:                  And I went and I met him in Aliso Viejo and sat down, and it was more of him telling me about Fluor and me kind of listening, and then presented me with an offer that was one of those kind of pivotal moments in your life of, “Okay, do I go overseas and play basketball professionally, or do I go start an actual career?”

Jayme:                  And it was a hard decision, and I actually ended up choosing to go with my career, because I really didn’t know, “Okay, well, how long am I going to play overseas?” And then, “I’ve worked so hard to get my degree, what am I going to come back to?” So I ended up choosing to go in a career path that has actually paid off.

Kent:                     Well, I should point out, and I would like all the listeners to understand, Jayme was a top quality basketball player, literally could have gone overseas or played probably in the WNBA. Some of the girls she played with did eventually play in the WNBA.

Jayme:                  Yeah, they did.

Kent:                     And you decided on a career in construction.

Jayme:                  I did. Yeah.

Kent:                     So it amazes me every time we talk with people as to how they ended up where they are, totally not what they had planned originally.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     And we had talked about that a little bit before.

Cliff:                       It’s amazing how many collegiate athletes that we run in to in the industry. People that come through here, like Garrett, Colin, Jayme, and I can think of some other people …

Kent:                     Played sports on a collegiate level and decided to go into construction.

Cliff:                       Yeah. And my perception is, if you played collegiate level anywhere, you’re a pretty good athlete.

Jayme:                  Yeah. When you look at the work environment too and the characteristics and traits of athletes, especially at a D1 level, you’re going through school, you’re studying, you’re going to classes, you have practice, you have to maintain a certain GPA to stay eligible. And then, not only that, some schools, like for us, for example, we had mandatory study hall that we had to go meet with certain people and actually sign-in to actually show that you came and did all this stuff. Plus, on top of that, you have not just practice, but now you have your rehab and getting all that type of training so that your body’s still healthy to continue playing.

Jayme:                  In an athlete’s day, it is packed. And then to fit in the studying, and your exams, and your traveling during season, and so you’re out of the classroom a lot, but you have to maintain right up with everyone else. And basketball, I was lucky, because I was on a full-ride scholarship, but when you look at some of the other athletes, like, for example, track and field or water polo, they don’t always get full-rides, and so they’re also working on top of doing everything else that I just said.

Jayme:                  So when you’re talking about time management and prioritizing things in your life, like teamwork, getting through obstacles and adversity, and all the other things, like having a coach that you have to listen to, or getting along with your teammates at times, I think there’s a lot of traits that come with athletes too that kind of help in the workplace.

Kent:                     Long hours were not a surprise to you?

Jayme:                  No. Not at all. Not at all. Yeah. No, it still isn’t.

Kent:                     From Long Beach, you graduated from Long Beach, you went to work for Fluor. Did you do any internships?

Jayme:                  I did. Yep. One was part of our program. So I did an internship for Webcor Builders out in LA, and that was kind of the first introduction to construction that I really had. No, actually, I take that back. That wasn’t my first one. The first actual internship I did was on Long Beach State’s campus as part of their construction management and facilities group there. And I got to be part of the team that helped build the new athletic building there for all the administration to go into, which was kind of cool.

Jayme:                  I think I did that my sophomore, going into my junior summer. And then my junior into my senior summer, I did a three month internship at Webcor.

Cliff:                       Well, she’s leaving out the small hands internship.

Kent:                     We had talked earlier about it. Was it your dad?

Jayme:                  Yeah. Absolutely. So, as a kid, and what really got me into the industry was my dad. He really built a lot of things around the house. I remember doing a deck with him at our cabin. We built the entire deck that wrapped around our cabin. And then a lot of mechanical stuff, doing a lot of mechanic work on the cars. And as I mentioned to you guys earlier, I think a lot of the time was because I just had small hands and I could get into places where he couldn’t fit, because my dad’s 6’4″, 6’6″, and he was big guy, so it was good to have me as his buddy.

Kent:                     What industry was your father in?

Jayme:                  He was a Police Chief in Montana.

Kent:                     Awesome. From there, you graduated Long Beach. Where did you go from there? You went to work for Fluor?

Jayme:                  Yeah. I went straight into Fluor, and I was in our home office for a couple of months, and then they sent me to Washington State. And then Fluor-

Kent:                     Now the home office was where?

Jayme:                  In Aliso Viejo, here in California. The thing about Fluor is it’s a global company. We’re in every continent doing all different types of projects, and I really like to say Fluor’s a company that we do residential to commercial to government, everything. And so a lot of people look at Fluor as they do just mega projects, but within those mega projects, we do a lot of the everyday type of projects too, the commercial and the residential, because we’re sometimes in such remote areas, we build man camps, and it’s the complete infrastructure that you would need for someone to survive for a year or two years in that area. So we do a lot of residential as well.

Jayme:                  After college, I went to Aliso Viejo here in California for about three months, and then they sent me up to Washington State in Moses Lake, Central Washington, this real, real small town, to build a polysilicon refinery up there. So it was the ground up about $500 million was the first project that we did, and I was a civil field engineer, where I did both civil and structural. And then from there, they wanted us to build a sister facility, just like the one we just did, right next to it. So we built that one from the ground up, and I was pretty much on that project from the very beginning through the very end.

Kent:                     So you were a field engineer on both projects? Or did you move into different disciplines during the course of the two projects?

Jayme:                  So I started civil. So I was one of the first of five people on that project, and I did all the dirt work, and then I did all the concrete, all the foundation work. And then because my work was the first one slowly getting done, as we were getting up out of the ground, I moved over into turnover coordinator. And when you’re doing these mega type of projects, we have so many different types of systems that are going into this, and we have to break down the work into really small packages to make sure that everything was installed correctly and that I could take this component in this piece of scope and give it to the operations group, that’s actually going to come in and run that, and actually be able to go start that system up.

Jayme:                  And so I moved from civil engineering into this turnover coordinator role, which I actually loved, in many aspects, because I got to see every aspect of the project, every discipline of the project. I shadowed. I was very hungry for the knowledge as a field engineer, and I got called green all the time by the older guys, and it’s just part of being out there.

Jayme:                  And I would ask them, “Can I shadow you? Can I go climb up that vessel with you and look at the welding? What are you looking at?” And these are your guys that had 50 years of experience. I followed piping engineers around, because I wanted to understand how you hydro-test a line. What kind of welds are you looking at when we’re looking at the x-rays? I looked at everything they would let me.

Jayme:                  And so by the time I got to be this turnover coordinator, I get to walk everything down with piping isometrics and PNIDs, and be able to say, “Yep, everything was installed per the drawings and specs, and you’re good to go.”

Kent:                     And to sign-off on it?

Jayme:                  And sign-off on it and let the contractor get paid for their work, and then give it to Ops and let them go ahead and start commissioning it.

Kent:                     One thing I wanted to touch on, as you were talking about this, you started off on the civil engineering, civil/field Engineering. What was the name of your degree that you got?

Jayme:                  Construction Engineering Management.

Kent:                     So you weren’t a civil engineer?

Jayme:                  I was not a civil engineer.

Kent:                     Let’s talk a little about that, because there’s a lot of kids that are pursuing a civil engineering degree. Do you feel that that’s a necessity? Do you do just as much with a construction engineering degree?

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. You could do just as much with a construction engineering degree. Like I was saying earlier, you don’t necessarily need your professional engineering degree to go do what we were doing. I was a civil field engineer, and I was doing drawings in the field and giving them to the contractors to go install. And even in my degree at Long Beach State, we had to take a lot of design classes and do all the calculations and everything.

Jayme:                  And at school it was funny, because you do your calculations, you turn it in, and maybe your structure buckled. Who knows, right? But it wasn’t a big deal. My first few weeks out in the field, I had to go redo a small kind of pier little foundation because we ran into an obstruction underground, so I put my design together, I double, tripled, quadruple checked it, and I’m like, “Okay, this is going to work.” And I go give it to my boss to look at, because I want to make sure he was good with it too. And I put it on his desk in front of him, and he just glanced up, and he goes, “Yeah. Just go have them go build it.”

Jayme:                  And I’m like, “He didn’t even look at this.” And I’m like, “If this doesn’t go in …”

Kent:                     My butt’s on the line.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And so I was really worried about it. And I go and I give it to the contractor that I was overseeing to go build, and they install it, but I was out there the whole time with them making sure everything was going right, the rebar was right, everything. And, of course, it went off, no problem, but it was interesting because those first couple of months, I was a lot more anal in some aspects of my work and what I was giving them to go build.

Cliff:                       Well, you were just conscientious.

Jayme:                  Oh, absolutely.

Cliff:                       Because you lacked confidence.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. And it wasn’t where I didn’t have that experience, just kind of like my boss at the time, to just glance at it and be like, “Yep, go do it. Here’s a quick sketch. This will work.” But by the end of that project, that’s how I was. I could just be like, “Yep, here, go do that. That’ll work.”

Jayme:                  So it was interesting. What I would say if you’re on any project, even as an intern … And I wish I would’ve done this more as an internship, because as an intern, you’re usually doing quantity take-offs, and RFI tracking, and that type of stuff. I wish I would’ve spent more time with the superintendents, and even more so with the general foreman, to just shadow them to get a better understanding of what they do and really get in with the carpenters and the other craft so that I understood that a lot more before I even started my actual job.

Kent:                     That’s also been one of those recurring themes we get to. Any good craftsman will have no problem telling you how to do their craft.

Jayme:                  Oh, no. Even still, to this day, the people that work under me, some of them are new to the construction side of it. They’re very much engineering, home office type people. Now they’re out in the field with me, and all of our contractors, especially when you start building that relationship with them, I’ve told my people, “Go ask them if you can shadow them for the day. I guarantee you they will be so excited to share that with you.” And they have.

Jayme:                  And I have a process engineer, a chemical engineer that works for me right now. I asked her the other day, “What do you think you’ve learned on this project that you could go back and implement later on?” And the biggest thing she said is, she got to be on this project from cradle to grave. So she got to be on it from all the way during engineering to follow it through construction, understand how construction executes now, to turning this over so that operations can start it up.

Jayme:                  And she said, “The biggest thing I think I’m going to take away is I’ve never, during the engineering phase, understood construction enough and how they would actually go build this and how they test everything, to be able to incorporate that into my design.” And so now she’s like, “Maybe I’ll add some more flanges. Maybe I’ll think how they’re actually going to start this up, so that from a constructability standpoint, it’s kind of already there for them.”

Jayme:                  So I think if you can really get on something from the very beginning, through the very end, you’re going to be so much further beyond other people.

Kent:                     Well, and there’s a lot of people that they don’t get to see that. Some of these big commercial firms, they come in during the pre-construction and they leave.

Jayme:                  Yeah, that’s true.

Kent:                     Or they come in during the final and then they move to another project. And we’ve talked about how being able to see that, just from the design aspect of it, you start to think about, “Well, how are you going to maintain this building. That light up in the middle of nowhere doesn’t make a whole lot of sense now.”

Jayme:                  Yeah. Yeah. No, and that is true, because that’s one advantage of working for a company like Fluor is you have both arms. You have an engineering arm and you have a construction arm. And it really allows the flexibility to be able to see a project cradle to grave.

Cliff:                       So she had the same experience you had, because cradle to grave.

Jayme:                  Yep. And here’s the biggest difference with her. She graduated from MIT four years ago. I told her in her four years at Fluor, just being on this one project, which usually you rotate after about 18 months, maybe two years, that she has gained probably more experience than some of the 30 year people that have been at the company, because they stay in the home office. They do engineering. They don’t go to the field. And if they have in their career, it’s for small stints. But probably a rare percentage has followed it cradle to grave, but likelihood, probably not.

Jayme:                  And I said, “So you’re so young in your career right now, but you’re so far ahead that I don’t even think you’ve realized how much knowledge you’ve gained already on this project.”

Cliff:                       I think there’s a real advantage, too, if you do that in one project, where they’re having to piece it together, subsequently. I was over here, and then you get this piece that’s three steps down the road. Then you go back to this piece. But when you can see that whole sequence develop, I think it’s richer.

Jayme:                  Yep. Yeah, absolutely.

Cliff:                       It’s much easier to put together, that’s for sure.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. You have the history. So when you’re in construction, you realize the contractor’s upset because we’re building it this way, or that’s how the design was, but you have the history because now you know why you had to design it that way, that, yeah, maybe they’re right, but every design and option you put in front of the client, they said, “No, we can’t do it this way because of a spec, or a regulation, or something like that, that the contractor doesn’t know.” So you’re able to provide that feedback, but then you also hear their gripes of where it’s hard for them to actually be productive and efficient.

Kent:                     Well, and it’s interesting to think, and we’ll talk about this a little later on, but like you said with Fluor, the building is just a small percentage of the things that you guys do.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Kent:                     And a lot of these commercial firms, that’s it. We build massive structures, and there’s so much more that goes into it with a company like Fluor, Bechtel, some of these bigger, bigger companies.

Kent:                     One of the things I would like to touch on, as you had talked about, when you were new in the field going out and asking, “Can I shadow this guy? Can I go with you? Can I see this?” And I think that is a huge bonus for kids to understand. If you’ve got some downtime, or even if you don’t necessarily have downtime, but you’re in the field, make use of that. It’s only going to help your career.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Kent:                     So as we talk about where you went from civil to field engineer-

Jayme:                  I started as a civil field engineer in Moses Lake, Washington. And I was on that project, what was only supposed to be 18 months turned into almost four years. And because, like I said earlier, we did this 3.0 and then 4.0, the 18 months turned into almost four years. And while I was on there, probably my second year, I had a spare desk in my office. And I didn’t know who he was at the time, but he was a VP in our company that was going to come in and share my office with me. And I was-

Cliff:                       It was nice of you to share that office.

Jayme:                  Yeah. I was young out of school, naive in a lot of ways, and titles didn’t really mean anything to me. I was just there to do my job. And the site manager came in and was coaching me on how I’m supposed to be with this guy in the office and everything.

Jayme:                  And, anyways, he came the next day, sat in my office, and I talked with him all day. And we really didn’t talk about work. We just talked about basketball, we talked about school, what I studied, what I didn’t like, what I liked, what classes, where do I want to go in my career.

Jayme:                  And it’s hard when you start out in your career, because you don’t know what you don’t know. I had thought I knew what I wanted to do, and as I kind of thought about it, I didn’t even understand the organization structure of Fluor at the time. And when you work for a big Global Fortune 500 company that has 40,000 plus employees worldwide, you have no idea what that actually means.

Jayme:                  After talking with this VP for a while, he later actually became a huge advocate of me within the company, and got me into this fast-track kind of rotational program. Where I thought my career might’ve gone just strictly staying in construction, it didn’t.

Jayme:                  And when I got into this rotational program, after being the civil field engineer, they sent me to the home office as a project engineer on an entire different type of project than what I was working on before. And it was on the engineering side, so I moved from construction now into the engineering side. And I ran, as a project engineer, about a year, year and a half. And that project unfortunately didn’t move forward from a cost issue, so they tabled it.

Jayme:                  And after that, I got sent down to our Sugar Land office, right next to Houston in Texas, and was a constructability lead.

Kent:                     Well, let’s talk a little bit about project engineer.

Jayme:                  Okay.

Kent:                     What did you do as a project engineer? What was your day in, day out routine?

Jayme:                  So as a project engineer, you are kind of the right-hand person to the project manager. So it’s kind of one of those tasks that you do everything to make their life easier, and you usually get a lot of tasks that they don’t want to do. And it is, you do a lot of the grunt work. You’re doing a lot of tracking.

Jayme:                  For me, personally, I was overseeing all of the engineers and making sure that I’m taking obstacles out of their way in order for them to continue making progress. I tracked our RFIs to the client. I tracked hours. We do a lot of value engineering type of constructability, where we can have savings if we make changes here, so I tracked all of that.

Jayme:                  While I was there, I wanted to really get involved in scheduling, and the estimating part, and understanding some of the project controls aspect of it, because I didn’t really do that a whole lot in the field. It was already kind of done, and I was just using the information I had to manage. And so here I got to be a really big part of having input into that.

Jayme:                  And the best thing about being a project engineer when I came back to the home office is no one in the home office really had that construction experience, and so I got to come in and actually have a lot of influence, where I got a seat at the table and people were listening because I just came off of four years of being in the field to provide a lot of that input into the schedule, into our estimates.

Jayme:                  Working with engineering was new to me across all the disciplines, and how Fluor operates it, and how they all link, and who needs what drawings by when in order for them to do their work. And so I gained a lot of knowledge during that time of just understanding the work processes that engineering uses.

Kent:                     Jayme, when you say that you tracked a lot of different things, which to me sounds as though it’s a big organizational task, did Fluor have systems already set up that, “This is the way you track these things. These are the systems that allow you to track all these multiple documents that are different kinds of documents?”

Jayme:                  I think most companies do. Maybe they’re not the best every time, and that you do reinvent the wheel in some aspects, because every project might be a little bit different on what the requirements are. But, yeah, you definitely have [GOBAs 00:25:02], you have work processes, you have procedures that you use. It’s not like you’re coming in completely blinded and just getting thrown in and say, “Figure it out.” You do get a procedure or process that you’re following that gives you a template, that you’re probably going to fine-tune and adjust a little bit for your project to kind of actually meet the deliverable that you have.

Kent:                     Well, you can’t scale without those processes.

Jayme:                  No. Right.

Kent:                     And so a company the size of Fluor, you want to bring somebody in, everybody needs to be on the same page.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. And you think, as we were talking earlier, Fluor’s over 100 years old. They have had more than 100 years to make these practices.

Kent:                     Refine some of these practices.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And make them some of the best in the industry. So anything you need to go do for your job at Fluor, you could go find a procedure for.

Kent:                     You can go find a binder full of procedures.

Jayme:                  Absolutely. Or reach out across to 40,000 plus people and say, “Hey, do you have a GOBA for this?” And I guarantee you you’ll find it.

Cliff:                       I wonder if there’s some sort of critical mass point where people in the organization finally go,” Oh, we have to follow the procedures.” Because in a small organization like this, they don’t care.

Kent:                     It’s like pulling teeth to get people to follow the procedures.

Cliff:                       Just the simplest things. It’s just like, “Will you please put the job number on every piece of correspondence?” “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Cliff:                       [crosstalk 00:26:24].

Jayme:                  Absolutely that we have in our company, because we do these mega projects, and so it can’t be chaos. You have to have everybody in their swim lane and that they understand what their role in that job is, but we also do a lot of small projects in sustaining capital work. And in those, we still have to have that same process, because you might be working on five different jobs at the same time, and if they’re all for the same client, I need to understand, well, what job are you talking about, when we’re corresponding to each other.

Kent:                     It’s not just, “The one at the airport.”

Jayme:                  Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You could be doing, at one of their facilities, 10 different jobs. And so if you don’t have kind of that structure built-in, balls are going to be dropped and there’s going to be way too many gaps.

Cliff:                       It’s all about teamwork, in a sense. Everybody in their proper lane and so forth. And I really wonder if there’s some point in an organization where people suddenly realize, “Oh, I’ve got to follow the rules.”

Kent:                     Well, yeah, when you start firing people that don’t do it, and you bring in people and raise them up the right way.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     But that’s a hard thing. And even though there are these procedures and these policies, I’m sure you still kind of feel like you’re thrown in the deep end: “Oh, hey, here’s a binder. Follow these and you’ll figure it out.” But what’s funny is a lot of people talk about-

Cliff:                       “I haven’t been trained to do that.”

Kent:                     In any of these episodes that we’ve done, they talk about, “Yeah, you’ve kind of got to figure it out on the fly.” But if you have that network of people you can go back to and say, “Okay, I’ve got to do this, and this is what the book says. And I can’t figure out how to put A and B together,” that’s a big deal.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Well, and the more experience that you get. I’ll be honest, we have a procedure that you’re not supposed to have your own library or keep anything on your own hard drive, but you kind of have to, because you go through all these projects and you develop a lot of great tools on these projects that maybe didn’t always exist, but it was something specific for this job that I needed. So you keep that in your library. And I guarantee you, you pull, as you get those years of experience, your library is going to grow and grow, of things that helped you on jobs that you’ll go back to over time.

Kent:                     I can adapt this for this project-

Jayme:                  Yeah, absolutely.

Kent:                     … and use it there.

Jayme:                  Yep.

Kent:                     So, from there, project engineer. Sounds like one of the first roles you have where you’re actually over people.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     And you to manage them and see how they …

Jayme:                  And, Fluor, it’s really interesting because some areas you have direct reports, and others you’re responsible for everything, but you have no authority over them.

Kent:                     Here’s a bunch of responsibility, but no authority.

Jayme:                  Yeah, but you’ve got to get them to do what you need them to do, or you’re responsible for that.

Kent:                     So how do you deal with that?

Jayme:                  Relationships. Even when I was in the field starting out, in this industry I think relationships are so important. And I think as long as you’re respectful to the person that you’re working with and that you’re not just kind of always dictating and hammering them down and this and that, and that they see you’re really trying to work with them, that it could go a really long way.

Jayme:                  And, even still to this day, relationships I made back when I first started, I still get calls from a lot of those guys just saying hi. And I know I could call anyone of them and ask for something like, “Hey, do you remember when we did this on this project? Do you still have that?” And I’ve gotten things that way.

Jayme:                  And I think the more relationships you can build and the bigger the network that you have, the more successful you potentially could be, because people are more than willing to help, as long as you have a good relationship with them.

Kent:                     Hopefully people learn that there’s these key principles that are timeless, and you have to follow those.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Cliff:                       What’s going through my mind at the moment, okay, is that so Jayme is the first woman we’ve had on the podcast, and yet what she’s talking about is exactly the same things that all the guys have talked about. So the idea that, “Oh, it’s a male-dominated,” it’s only male-dominated because that’s historic. There’s no real reason behind that, because you can build relationships just like some guy can.

Jayme:                  Sure.

Cliff:                       You can understand the mechanics of things and so forth. It’s just putting yourself in there, getting into the organization, and moving forward.

Jayme:                  Yep.

Kent:                     Well, and we’ll touch back on the gender thing in a little bit. Let’s go through your career real fast, and we’ll come back to that.

Cliff:                       Thanks for that word. I was missing that word, gender.

Kent:                     Right. So from project engineer, you went into this-

Jayme:                  Yeah. So I was in the rotationals. That was my first rotation, and it was home office engineering. So now-

Kent:                     Well, explain the purpose of that rotation and what they were trying to do. I think that’s really interesting.

Jayme:                  So the goal of this program that I was in was a fast-track program to become a project manager. And a lot of it started was because it was the boom of the industry, and there was so much work out there, but we didn’t have enough project managers to actually manage the work. So-

Kent:                     Quality project managers.

Jayme:                  Well, yeah, good catch. So it was supposed to be six-month rotations in each of these different roles, but let’s see, it was about 2008 when I got into the program, and shortly thereafter, the economy tanked.

Kent:                     Tanked.

Jayme:                  And so those six-month rotations became a year, year and a half rotation, because they were trying to find the opportunities to get you in that right spot to learn what you needed to before you moved on. And, to be honest, spending more than six months, I think, is a good thing, because you actually had to really get involved and learn. Where six months, I feel, yeah, you’re going to get in, you’re going to learn a little bit, and then you’re gone, but you’re not fully grasping everything in that role.

Kent:                     Well, if you know you’re going to leave, if you like it, you can just say, “Oh, I’ll just put up with it for a few months-”

Jayme:                  Yeah, I’ll be done.

Kent:                     “… and I’ll be gone.”

Jayme:                  I’ll be done. Yeah. So I spent about a year, year and a half in each role. So I then went into as a project engineer, and I learned the home office and the engineering side of it all.

Jayme:                  From there, they sent me to Houston, to Sugar Land, as what they called a constructability lead, as part of our global operations group. So in that role, what I got to do is kind of be on the pre-con side of everything. And I helped all the projects that were in Sugar Land in setting up their temporary facilities, looking at whether we do modular or stick-built, what’s our craft going to look like, are we doing self-perform or CM? And so I got to get involved from more of an operations standpoint early-on in the project of supporting all the projects in that area, because Houston is our main construction hub.

Kent:                     Headquarters, right?

Jayme:                  Yeah. And so you kind of support all the projects across Fluor that need construction help. And rigging … I got involved in so many different aspects of the pre-planning to go to construction, and one of the jobs that I got on, we were doing self-perform in the Gulf Coast. And I got to be on a team that helped get the client to go from a CM mindset to letting us do self-perform. So I got to see the strategy that got to go into that.

Jayme:                  And then, as part of that, I supported all the rigging studies, the modular studies, did all of our craft NC analysis, came up with the logistics plan on how we were going to get this 300 foot, 32 feet diameter vessel from the port into this facility. So I got to do all the logistics and heavy haul planning for that.

Cliff:                       Now at this time you’re into the industry about six years?

Jayme:                  Yeah, about six years.

Cliff:                       It sounds like you’re doing a lot in six years.

Jayme:                  I was lucky, because that’s kind of this program I got put in designed me to. And it wasn’t that I picked what my next rotation was. We came up with a career plan of saying, “Okay, these would be good ones,” but it doesn’t mean that opportunity actually followed that. It was, “Hey, here’s the opportunities we have. Would you be open to any of them?”

Jayme:                  And, for me, I was young, single, everything. I was like, “Yep, I’ll go.” I was willing to go wherever they wanted me to go to gain the experience, because that’s the quickest way to move up within a company, because if you stay in one area in a large company, your opportunities are going to be limited to that area. And so you’re kind of not going to have as many choices.

Cliff:                       I’m thinking that in that six year span, and you’re talking about constructability, moving the logistics, and so on and so forth, those are experiences that you hadn’t had. And so how are you maneuvering in that environment?

Cliff:                       Because I’m thinking you’re using your imagination. You’re looking at this like, “Oh, they’ve given me this problem, and I know this, and I know this, and I know this, but none of these things, it’s not what exactly I know.” So you’re having to come up with solutions or alternative solutions, and I would imagine that someone above you is helping you with the final decisions, but there’s a lot of creative thinking in what you’re doing.

Jayme:                  Yeah. So when I started with Fluor out in the field, I got exposed to a lot of the temporary facilities, because I was one of the few construction people that actually new AutoCAD. And so I got involved in helping design some of the temporary facilities that we needed that wasn’t really established yet. So I had a little exposure to that. And then being out in the field for almost four years, I learned a lot of things that went right, and a lot of things that didn’t go right. And so I had a lot of that to be able to use in going forward.

Jayme:                  But it goes back to my network too. So in construction, I had met some subject matter experts in a lot of these areas, where it was a phone call saying, “Hey, I’m working on this. Here’s kind of what I’m putting together. Take a look at this. Is this what you would do?” And then within Fluor we have a modular expert, and so he would take a look at it, he would run his calcs and be like, “Yeah, here’s why you need to stay with stick-built from a cost comparison.”

Jayme:                  So I had a lot of help. It wasn’t solely just me. And I don’t think I could’ve ever just done that myself. It’s very much any project you’re on or any task really you’re working on, in some aspects, there’s still a team aspect to that, especially when you’re running projects.

Jayme:                  From going to having that construction experience early-on in four years, and then going to engineering, being part of that pre-con, you’ve got to think we start pre-con early, early, like two years before we ever go to construction, in some cases, depending on the size of the project. And so now I had this whole engineering experience as well. So I understand how they operate within engineering, that I knew who to go to, to get certain information when I needed it, to develop the plans that I was coming up with.

Jayme:                  For logistics, I need to understand the size of the vessel that we were bringing in, the weight of the vessel, so I went to mechanical. They gave me all that information [inaudible 00:37:35] process. And then I reached out to a large rigging company, and I said, “Hey, here’s all the drawings. Here’s all the information you need. I need to get from point A to point B. I’ve already gone and done a bunch of site walks. Here’s all the information of where high-voltage power lines are running.”

Kent:                     And freeway overpasses.

Jayme:                  Freeway … Yeah. Everything. “Come up with your guys’ plan,” because that’s who we would’ve contracted with to actually move this from the port into the site. So they’re going to do their own study on it and provide it to us.

Jayme:                  So you use a lot of different knowledge that you’ve gained throughout all of your experience. And, for me, I had the construction side now, and then I had the engineering. Now I’m looking at it from a higher level and doing pre-con, which I hadn’t really done before.

Kent:                     One of the points I would like to make, and this is something I’ve had a hard time in past episodes trying to put this into words, but you touched on it earlier. And Cliff had said something about confidence. And you had said when you did this drawing for this foundation, and your boss didn’t even look at it and was like, “Okay, that’s good.” It blows my mind the amount of stuff that they put …

Kent:                     Here you are out of school, six years out of school, and it’s like, “Hey, we’ve got all this crap you’ve got to figure out.” And they just let you. There’s no one there necessarily holding your hand. But kind of like Bruno, who we had talked about earlier, no one told you you couldn’t. So it’s just like, “Oh, yeah, I’ll figure this out. I can go do this, and I can go do that. And we’ll try this, and maybe that doesn’t work. And what you think about this?”

Kent:                     And I think that’s important that kids understand. You’ve got to kind of have that motivation to just go figure it out. And you can ask people, and you’ve got all these resources that you can draw on.

Jayme:                  Yeah. I will say this, and I think this would go to any company, don’t ever do just what they ask you. Do 5% more. And if you show that you’re this go-getter, and you don’t need someone over there telling you, “Hey, okay, now you’ve got to do A, then go do B, and then go do C,” and you just try and go do it yourself, and then you bring back everything you did, plus add that 5% to it, people are going to be really satisfied with your work, because you just took a lot of work away from them, that now your responsibilities are going to grow because that trust is happening. So I think the more you can do and to be that go-getter and to jump up and say, “I’ll do it,” even if it’s take out the trash, your responsibilities will grow.

Cliff:                       When I worked for the Dean at Rice one summer, he had this attitude about any time they gave him a project, he was certain he could do more with that project. And they asked us to do a parking study, and he was like, “We can change the entire campus.”

Kent:                     That was his mentality. Yeah.

Cliff:                       Huh?

Kent:                     That’s his mentality.

Cliff:                       That’s his mentality. He’s like, “Hey, they’ve given us this. There’s an opportunity here to do a lot more. We can really just not say put a parking place here, but, hey, let’s talk about how you enter the campus, and how you circulate through the campus, and the modes of transportation through the campus, and so forth.”

Jayme:                  Yep.

Kent:                     From there, you were in Houston still. What happened next?

Jayme:                  So, from Houston, I got moved into a contracts and procurement manager role in Paris, France as part of a mining and metals project we were doing in Guinea, Africa.

Kent:                     Oh, poor you. You know?

Jayme:                  Yeah. Yeah.

Cliff:                       And you don’t speak French?

Jayme:                  I don’t. No, I don’t speak French.

Kent:                     Je m’appelle. No say.

Jayme:                  I wish I did. I just went to Paris last summer, and I’m like, “Oh, man. If I would have learned.”

Jayme:                  But, yeah, so I went to Paris on business trips for about a year and a half roughly, and it was a great experience.

Jayme:                  But you look at my career, I never thought I’d be kind of where I’m at. Within Fluor, I’m in a certain business unit, but here they just moved me from energy and chemicals, really doing kind of petrochemical type work, now going into a mining and metals project, which is heavy, heavy civil, that I’ve never done this type of work before.

Kent:                     Anything remotely close.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Anything remotely close, but there’s a lot of synergy between what you do, because your work processes are still the same.

Cliff:                       There’s a lot of transferable knowledge.

Jayme:                  Yep, exactly.

Cliff:                       If you have it.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     If you have the knowledge that you can transfer.

Kent:                     … to talk about that project. We were talking about it over dinner. The scope alone for something like that, you guys were building a mine, moving towns, going to build a port. Like we said, you’re not just building buildings. That’s the easy part of what we’re doing.

Jayme:                  Yeah, the scope of that project, it’s a $17 billion project, and the largest project I had been on up to that point was about $1 billion. And so the scope of this project, to me, was ridiculous.

Kent:                     Mind-boggling, yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah. So, yeah, we were going into a remote area that had no civilization. And so we had to helicopter people in to go down, start kind of developing the infrastructure.

Kent:                     Cut down the trees so you can put in the camp.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Exactly. So to develop that infrastructure for the staff and craft to sleep in while we’re building everything else. And we had to cut down all the trees and everything to build the roads to get in there. So we had that infrastructure piece. Then we had to build the mine. And then we’re going to build a 300 mile railroad, where we had to relocate villages at the railroad.

Kent:                     Along the way.

Jayme:                  And then do a port. So, at the end, yeah, it was going to be about $17 billion.

Kent:                     And just the scale. I want people to understand the scale of just this one project that you guys were undertaking.

Cliff:                       Well, a 300 mile railroad-

Kent:                     In and of itself, is a huge project, let alone all the other stuff [crosstalk 00:43:32].

Cliff:                       And then a port.

Kent:                     Yeah. Or a port. Yeah. One or the other would be the feather in somebody’s cap.

Jayme:                  Yeah, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to get the material out.

Kent:                     So you were in Paris for how long?

Jayme:                  About a year and a half.

Kent:                     A year and a half.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     The food was great, I’m guessing.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Kent:                     Yeah. From there, where did you go?

Jayme:                  When that project got canceled, I was back here, because I was going on business trips. And they sent me to Long Beach, California, so back to SoCal. And I was going as a project engineer again, as a level a lot higher than where I was the first time, with a heck of a lot more knowledge than I had the first time. And this time, it was for the overall project, as a project engineer, not just focusing on the engineering.

Kent:                     A scope or a set of scopes.

Jayme:                  Yep. Kind of had to set of scope. And I had a program manager over me. And that’s when I was doing work on the Alaskan Pipeline. As I started as a project engineer on this role, that program manager left the company. They had nobody to fill this position, and since I was the closest to the knowledge of the scope, they said, “Hey, Jayme, why don’t you take it over?”

Kent:                     Guess what, you got promoted.

Jayme:                  “Yeah, take it over. We’ll find somebody to kind of come in and eventually-”

Kent:                     Help under you.

Jayme:                  Yeah. No, actually run it. “Why don’t you just come in-”

Kent:                     Okay. You’ve just got it for the time being.

Jayme:                  “… intermediate, yeah, while we go find someone to come take it.” And I’m like, “Okay, sure.” I’ve never ran an entire program, let alone that many projects at once. And so I was like, “Yeah, sure. I’ll do it. No problem.”

Cliff:                       So explain to people what a program is.

Jayme:                  So a program is when you have one specific client, and you have multiple, multiple projects underneath that client. And within that client organization, they’re going to have many project managers as well that your counterpart. So as a program manager, I’m dealing with different projects under the same client, but they could be in completely different areas, and different teams on the client side. So you get a lot of help on your side to kind of help do the day-to-day interaction with them, and you’re running it more from an overall standpoint.

Kent:                     You’re seeing it from the overall picture, like you say.

Jayme:                  Yeah, the balcony versus kind of being in the weeds of everything.

Jayme:                  So he ended up leaving, and I took it over for the time being, and I ended up doing a really good job. And they said, “Well, why don’t you just keep it?” And so I kind of worked myself into that promotion, and I was able to show what my capabilities were, because I was always, “Sure, I’ll do it. If I fail, then I fail.”

Jayme:                  But you need to have good mentors along the way that are kind of helping you, where when you get stuck, you go ask the question, because I don’t think you should ever be worried to ask a question. And the more you ask, the more you’re going to learn and hopefully not make that mistake.

Jayme:                  So I ended up taking over that program, and as that was going, we ended up getting another project up in Bakersfield. And so I started working on that as a project engineer underneath the project manager on that job, because-

Kent:                     While you were still working as a program manager.

Jayme:                  While I was still doing the program manager. And this other job up in Bakersfield was a larger project. And so they needed help, so I went as a project engineer on that job. But crazy enough, the project manager on that job and I ended up developing a really good relationship.

Jayme:                  And he gave me way more responsibilities probably than what my level was in the company, but I loved it because I got exposed to so many more things that I hadn’t yet in the past, and I was able to actually grow probably the most on that project than I have on any of the other projects that I’ve actually been on, because he had me go in and do the estimate review with the client, and he wasn’t there. And so I’m here backing up our estimate with the client that has way more experience than I do. So that was a huge exposure to me that I haven’t had to do. I always just got to be in the room and be quiet, and someone else had to do all the talking.

Kent:                     Now you’ve got to answer the questions that they ask you.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Cliff:                       She’s like a kid in grammar school. Okay? She got the fifth grade, and suddenly things are exploding.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Cliff:                       She’s been soaking up all this stuff. It’s like, “Oh, this is sixth grade. I’m going to write a paper.”

Jayme:                  Yeah, yeah.

Kent:                     I do have to point this out. Rarely do I meet people younger than me that very well impress me and have surpassed me. And I figure this is like when Cliff first met me. And she’s talking about, “Oh, then I grew so much here,” and it’s like, “Holy crap. How much did you grow when you were in Paris?”

Kent:                     But that’s awesome. You took the opportunity, and you ran with it. And you’re capable of it. No one’s telling you you can’t do it.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Really, my actual title was project engineer, but really I worked more as like a deputy project manager and an engineering manager, because I pretty much oversaw all the engineering at the same time.

Jayme:                  And a lot of that’s strictly I look at kind of the story I’ve told you of what my past has been, and I’ve taken little bits and pieces from all of that. And on that project up in Bakersfield, there was a huge part of construction, because we were doing the CM, while I was one of the few that had a lot of construction experience, so I developed all our temporary facilities. I developed all of that early-on so that we had it before we ever even got into that construction part.

Jayme:                  My experience is very broad, that I have a lot of places to pull from in order to be successful.

Kent:                     Well, now the quote that comes to mind, there’s a famous quote that they say, “You’d be amazed what you can accomplish when you don’t worry about who gets the credit.” And here you are working in a position that’s almost like you could think of it like a lower position, if you really wanted to, but you took it because, hey, what was your motivation? You want the company to succeed. This is what they need, and there you go. And if people had that attitude, you can see where it could get you.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And a lot of it’s pride in your work, but as I said earlier in this podcast, and it’s not just me, and I do a lot of athletic analogies, but I think a lot of why I’ve been successful pulls from that, just the type of person I am, and it is a teamwork. When you work on these big projects, or any project, you’re only as good as the guy doing the work too. And so if the team’s not being successful, I’m not going to be, no matter what role I’m in.

Kent:                     What did Ryan say? “You’re only as good as your worst-performing sub?”

Jayme:                  That’s right. It is. It’s very true.

Kent:                     From there, you were in Bakersfield, and still going to Alaska.

Jayme:                  And still going to Alaska.

Kent:                     For how long?

Jayme:                  I don’t know. I was going to Alaska for about a year, and then I overlapped for probably four months. And during that time, I was kind of giving the Alaska work to someone else so that I could focus on the Bakersfield job.

Kent:                     We should also touch on, your trips to Alaska, they were to these big five-star areas, right?

Jayme:                  Yeah. Yeah, Anchorage, Fairbanks, man camps, all up and down the pipeline. So it was actually a really cool experience. And the man camps, honestly, were actually pretty cool. I probably gained 10 pounds being in the man camp, because they have food 24/7.

Kent:                     They don’t want anybody to want for food there.

Jayme:                  And it’s ice cold out. It is so cold out that you just kind of hang out in the Lodge at night and-

Kent:                     Eat.

Jayme:                  … eat. And, yeah, there’s not a whole lot to do if you’re not working. But it was a good environment, to be honest. But, yeah, so I was asked going up to Alaska for two weeks, and then I’d come back for about a week, and then go back up for two weeks. And, yeah, I did that for quite a while. I racked up a lot of mileage and hotel points.

Cliff:                       Is this after Houston?

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     It’s after Paris.

Jayme:                  After Paris.

Cliff:                       And so it is after Houston?

Kent:                     Yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Cliff:                       So you’re teaching too?

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. That’s right.

Cliff:                       Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     We’ll get into some of the other stuff that she’s doing. And it is important to remember that she’s doing that with all of this other stuff that she’s doing. So from Bakersfield, where did you go?

Jayme:                  So from Bakersfield, I came back and I became an area project manager on a local project here at a refinery. And it’s about a $500 million project. So I got to oversee my whole entire area, because there were kind of two refineries that we were combining into one. So I oversaw one in Wilmington, California, and that was kind of like my first real big project that I was overseeing everything. So I did that. I think that started in 2015, and I did that for about a year and a half.

Jayme:                  And Fluor was supposed to be the CM on that, but this particular client wanted to end up doing the CM themselves, but they wanted some of the Fluor people to go as part of their CM team to kind of help get them up and off the ground.

Kent:                     Mentor.

Jayme:                  Yeah, exactly. Mentor and kind of get them up and running and be successful.

Cliff:                       Give us your systems.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Yeah, all your practices, your procedures. Sure, 100 years? You guys got this.

Jayme:                  So, yeah, I’m still on that project right now, slowly rotating now to be program manager for the West Coast for another client, but as part of this secondment role. I’ve been in construction now for, yeah, about a year and a half, so I’ve been on that job three years. So from engineering, all the way through, now construction and turning over stuff, and we’ve started up a few units, and just the ball’s rolling. So that’s good.

Kent:                     You could retire today and have accomplished as much as a lot of people in their career. That is amazing to me. And I mean it.

Jayme:                  Oh, thank you.

Kent:                     That is amazing. And then let’s touch on some of the other stuff she was doing in the meantime. See you graduated from Long Beach.

Jayme:                  I did.

Kent:                     But you did go back to school.

Jayme:                  I did. I went back to ASU and did my grad school there, and got my degree in construction.

Kent:                     And you to the online program.

Jayme:                  I did. So when I did grad school, I was in Washington state, up in Moses Lake, and I needed … Because when you’re in the field, you can’t really leave during construction to go somewhere, especially on the type of projects that we’re doing. So I had to go to a place that I never had to step foot on campus. And that being ASU, they said, “You’re accepted.” I said, “Okay, let’s do it.” And so I did it very quick. I kind of just decided-

Kent:                     Last minute?

Jayme:                  Yeah. Like, I need something to where I’m feeling like I’m progressing and moving forward. And so went and took the GRE. And the deadline to apply was days after that, so I had to get everything in really quick. Got accepted. Ended up going, and as I was telling you guys earlier at dinner, undergrad was great. I had great relationships with all my professors. But grad school was very different. And I feel my relationship was even better with those professors.

Jayme:                  And I think it’s a different level, and especially being online, communication is so key. And the one thing I really actually enjoyed about ASU is each one of my professors called me each week to ask if I had any questions on the lecture, how things were going, and just kind of that touch base.

Cliff:                       So you actually had phone conversations every week with each professor?

Jayme:                  Yeah. I did.

Cliff:                       That’s extraordinary, in a way.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And they would take the time out of their day to do it. And I had some of the best conversations with them, in the time being. And ASU, especially on the construction side, they do a lot of work for CII, and they did a lot of work for Fluor, a lot of research, which I didn’t even know until my professors told me this. And so I ended up kind of being a guinea pig, I think, in a lot of ways, in our conversations. I’m like, “Well, how does Fluor do this?” And it was a good knowledge base for them too, because eventually that’s going to come back to Fluor, if they’re doing the research for us.

Jayme:                  So, yeah, I ended up having really good relationships with them.

Kent:                     What was the difference in the curriculum in the graduate program versus your undergraduate program? What did they do?

Jayme:                  So I think the biggest difference, as you move up in academics, and this is how I explain it even to my students today, undergrad gives you a great basis for everything you’re going to do in the industry. You don’t really learn it until you get out there and you’re actually doing it, but you get the basis of it. Grad school, when you get into your masters program, is you’re learning all these theories. You’re learning why things happen the way they do in today’s world of that particular study that your-

Cliff:                       Discipline? Whatever discipline it is.

Kent:                     The discipline that you’re in. Yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah. So, yeah, it’s definitely the theories of whatever you’re studying, the discipline that you’re study and what your degree’s going to be in. But when you get into your doctorate, you’re pretty much coming up now with their own theory, because that’s what your dissertation is. You’ve learned the basis of it. You’ve learned everyone else’s theory of why it happens this way. But now what’s yours?

Jayme:                  And that’s really the way I look at the different levels in the academia world, because it’s not as simple as, “Well, here’s how the curriculum is. And here’s what’s a little bit different.” Because you kind of do some of the same in both, but when you’re in your master’s degree, you’re kind of like, “Oh, I learned that in grad school. We were using Primavera. So this is kind of the theories behind that.”

Kent:                     Why you use Primavera.

Jayme:                  Why you’re using it. But I do think also in grad school, like for a master’s, it was a lot more people skills and understanding how people work, hence the leadership part of it is, as you kind of move up, yeah, you learn the theories. We did a lot of cost stuff.

Jayme:                  One of our projects was they gave you an entire site. They gave you what your scope was, and you had to do, from a cost perspective, the cash flow for the whole project throughout the year. And they would give you your reports each week, and you’d have to update your cost sheets to reflect all that. And then they’d say, “Oh, your site was vandalized. Here’s what you lost. Or you had a delay, because of rain.” So you had to kind of follow this throughout the whole semester. And that one I actually learned quite a bit on, and being at a site, I highly relied on our cost engineers to kind of help teach it to me as well.

Jayme:                  So, yeah, there’s some true hands-on experience, but a lot of it’s theories during master’s anyways. And then, truly, when you get your doctorate, it’s really, “What’s your own theory?”

Cliff:                       It’s funny, because I don’t really think of construction as being theoretical, but there’s theories behind why things are done the way they are.

Kent:                     Well, it’s really funny, and the point I really want to make here is you’re one of the first that have talked about the higher education being worth it. And a lot of people are like, “Oh, you go out in the field, and you’re going to learn it, and you’re going to do this, and you’re going to do that.” And so there’s not a right answer for anybody.

Kent:                     But you made a really interesting comment earlier about how you had gotten his career. You’ve had this great career, up until this point, and you kind of feel like you’re stagnated. And so you needed something else.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Cliff:                       You did this in your second or third year, right?

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     And so it’s important for kids to understand, as they come out of school, maybe you get out there and you’re gung-ho, and then maybe you start really wondering if you made the right choice.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Absolutely.

Kent:                     And if you do get in that position, that’s a normal feeling. And so you can either work through it in one way or another. And one of the things that you found was higher education. You can pursue a graduate degree.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And it kind of goes into, like I was telling you guys at dinner, academics was not number one for me.

Kent:                     Well, yeah, did you ever see yourself as a doctorate?

Jayme:                  No. No. And now, today you ask me that, absolutely, I want to get my doctorate. And that is on my list. I just need to be able to stay in one spot long enough-

Kent:                     Long enough to do it.

Jayme:                  … to go do it, because it’s not an online thing. But, yeah, I definitely want to go get my doctorate, because I eventually want to teach when I retire. And not to say that now with the experience that I have on my resume that I couldn’t do that when I retire, but I think now getting my doctorate is just kind of that goal that I have.

Cliff:                       What schools would offer a doctorate in construction?

Jayme:                  USC does actually. Out here, it’s again, part of their civil engineering group, but when you get into your doctorate, it could be so many different things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be construction.

Cliff:                       Well, there’s really not a curriculum.

Jayme:                  Right.

Cliff:                       It’s really just the willingness of the faculty to assist you.

Jayme:                  Yeah, in some ways. Yeah. And, to me, if you’re going to go do your doctorate, and for how much work goes into developing your dissertation, you better be really passionate about what you’re about to go research.

Kent:                     Well, because it’s probably not going to reflect in your pay.

Jayme:                  It won’t.

Cliff:                       No.

Jayme:                  It absolutely won’t. And even your getting your master’s might not, but for me, personally, I didn’t get my master’s for my-

Kent:                     To get a bump.

Jayme:                  Yeah, exactly. And you know what? If I didn’t get my master’s, I would’ve never been able to teach. And so if you want to look at a pay bump, I get paid to teach at the University of Houston, but that was never my goal when I got my master’s.

Jayme:                  And I talk about your network and your building your relationships, well, I ended up having such a good relationship with my professors at ASU, and when I went to Houston with Fluor, I started saying to people, “I really am interested in teaching. Do you have any connections? Do you have a network?” And someone did, and they connected me with the right person at Process Construction Technology Group out of the University of Houston, which is in the petrochemical kind of program for construction.

Jayme:                  So I went and I met with the Dean of that school, sat down. We talked about the curriculum, and then he said, “Well, what classes do you want to teach?” And I said, “Well, I really like AutoCAD. And I really like leadership too, because in grad school, I really enjoyed that class.” And he looks at me, and he goes, “Oh, didn’t you do your grad school at ASU?” I said, “Yeah.” And he goes, “Oh, do you know William Badger?” And I go, “Yeah, absolutely.”

Kent:                     That was my professor. I love that guy.

Jayme:                  “He was my professor. He was my Chair. I did so much studying and work underneath him.” And as I’m telling him this, he goes, “Whoa.” He starts laughing and he’s like, “We just contracted with ASU, and it’s his class we’re teaching here at University of Houston.” And, to me, I’m like, “This is perfect.”

Jayme:                  It was a graduate class, and because I only have my master’s, I can’t necessarily teach a graduate level class. You have to have your doctorate. Well, because Dr. Badger and I had such a good relationship, he recommended that I should be the one that teaches that class, because I did all the studying under him and did a lot of the research with him that he used-

Kent:                     For that class.

Jayme:                  … in that class.

Kent:                     For that curriculum.

Jayme:                  Yeah, exactly. I ended up getting to teach that class, and I got to start teaching the AutoCAD class as well. And if I didn’t have my master’s, I would’ve never met Dr. Badger, and I would’ve never got to teach at University of Houston. And I realize that I actually really enjoy it a lot.

Jayme:                  And so I taught face-to-face for the year and a half roughly that I was in Houston. And then I was going to the Paris job, and I went in and said, “Hey, sorry I can’t teach anymore because I’m going out of the country,” and they came back and said, “Well, would you be open and willing to convert this all to being online?” “Sure, absolutely.” So-

Cliff:                       And you had that experience at ASU.

Jayme:                  Yeah. So since 2011, I’ve been teaching at University of Houston because of ASU.

Kent:                     So between all of the other projects she was doing, like you said, she was also teaching on top of that how many nights a week.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     Now, we invite people on here. One thing I want to say is this is a platform for you as well. And so talk a little bit about, people that are honestly considering ASU, what would you say?

Jayme:                  I’d say, “Absolutely.” Like I said, the relationship I had with my professors, those professors don’t just teach graduate classes. They teach a lot of undergrad classes. And at ASU, what I realized is they’re so connected to CII, and they do a lot-

Cliff:                       What is CII?

Jayme:                  The Construction Institute.

Cliff:                       Okay.

Jayme:                  And so they do so much work for them. You look at CII’s best practices, this is from these teams that do all this research of saying, “Hey, here’s the good and the bad. And here’s the best practice of what you should be doing,” whether it’s project management, from its insulation of something, across the board, there’s so many different aspects of CII.

Jayme:                  But this is the school that does a ton of research, and I truly, in my opinion, care about their students, because I have never had a professor take the time out of their day to give to a student weekly like that. And I wasn’t the only one. It was however many kids were in our class.

Jayme:                  And Long Beach State, another great school. And don’t get me wrong, I had great relationships with my professors there, but they were different than what I had when I went to grad school.

Kent:                     So you would recommend both.

Jayme:                  I would. Yeah. I think they’re both-

Kent:                     What about the University of Houston?

Jayme:                  Yeah. Same one. Now, what I thought was very unique about the University of Houston is the University of Houston is in an area where the oil and gas business is very strong. And so they definitely-

Cliff:                       They’re really close to the channel actually, right?

Jayme:                  Absolutely. So the program that I teach in there is very organized to that kind of audience.

Kent:                     Oriented towards oil and gas industry.

Jayme:                  Yeah, exactly. And they have a Board that comes in, and people from Fluor, from Bechtel, from the oil companies, all come in to review the curriculum that the students are learning there. And so the curriculum is very-

Kent:                     Refined.

Jayme:                  … refined and-

Kent:                     And designed to fast-track kids.

Cliff:                       And it’s really petrochemically oriented.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Absolutely.

Cliff:                       Because those firms are supporting that school.

Jayme:                  Yeah. The fact that their curriculum gets looked at so often by a Board of experienced people in the industry is so important. I wish I could say that about the other programs that I was in, but I don’t know if they were or not, but I do know the University of Houston’s was.

Jayme:                  And not only that, a lot of the industry professionals are the teachers, are the professors for that program. So you’re getting real life experience from all these people teaching your class. You’re developing a network for when you graduate that …

Jayme:                  And I’ll be honest, I see who my students are. I know the ones that are doing a heck of a job, that I’d be like, “Man, they would be-”

Kent:                     He could work for me any day.

Jayme:                  Yeah, absolutely. I look at them and I’m like, “Man, I would take them in a heartbeat.” And I remember that. And when Fluor’s looking for people, whose name do you think I’m going to put up there? So you build-

Kent:                     Relationships.

Jayme:                  … relationships. And from a student aspect, how much better could that get? Yeah, your professors, your actual true academic professors have the great network too, but when you’re actually getting taught by the industry professionals-

Kent:                     Your professor is the leader in the industry.

Jayme:                  Yeah. That could actually bring you into their company. And especially when you look at it in the economy of where we’re at now. Yeah, we’re moving up, but what would be more important than that right now? So I think that’s another really unique thing about the University of Houston.

Kent:                     Awesome. Well, the other thing that I think we should put on the platform, and we talked about bringing this up, is the gender idea, because I would love to hear from you. Like I said, we have apparently a lot of listeners that are female. And while I could sit here and spout off nonsense all day, I don’t know what it’s like. And so what would you say to these kids that are studying, or they have a desire to get into the field? Is it harder? What would be your advice to them?

Jayme:                  I don’t think it’s necessarily harder, but we used the word confidence earlier. I think you have to go in like you belong at the table. And when you go into a meeting room, if there’s chairs along the walls, don’t sit on the chairs that are around the walls. Sit at the chair on the table, and have a voice at the table.

Jayme:                  And I think that happens a lot. It’s this confidence type of thing where you kind of get overtaken in a room, and so you’re quieter or more reserved in some aspects, but you actually are really knowledgeable or you wouldn’t be there to begin with. And you have the input to put in.

Jayme:                  And I can say this, and I went as a 23-year-old field engineer up into Washington state working with all craft and overseeing craft, and I didn’t have a problem with being a woman or being young. Yeah, I got joked around a lot for being young.

Kent:                     You’re green. You’re green. Yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah, I’m green and whatever, but I’ll throw it right back at you at times, but I’m respectful. And I think as you can prove that you have the knowledge and that you belong there in a lot of ways, then you’re going to get that respect. And I think that goes for guys coming out of the college too.

Kent:                     Oh, yeah.

Jayme:                  I think it doesn’t matter whether you’re female or male, that those same type of qualities need to be there. I am lucky, in some aspects. I’m 6’2″, and I don’t necessarily have the highest voice. I have a lower voice, and so the demeanor’s a little bit different. And being a D1 basketball player when I first started, definitely made a difference, because my conversations are different. I’m interested in sports. Yeah, let’s talk about it.

Kent:                     You’re not afraid of conflict.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Absolutely. And I’ll go head-on. And I think a lot of that is just my own confidence and what I think is right and wrong. And that teamwork aspect of it is I’m not saying you’re not right. And there’s many times that I’m not right, and sometimes both of us are right, so let’s maybe integrate that to come up with what the actual solution should be. And so it’s getting people to buy-in at the same time.

Jayme:                  And I’ll give you an example. There’s a lady that I work with who has 30 years of experience. And she comes in and kind of shares a lot with me and wants advice, or mentorship, or however you want to look at it. And a lot of it is because she said, “Jayme, when you talk in a meeting, people stop and they listen to you.” Where sometimes she gets drowned out. And this particular person, and I’ve been trying to coach her when I hear her do certain things in a meeting, because what she says a lot is, “Sorry.” Someone will say something and she’s like, “Oh, sorry.” And so now I’m like-

Kent:                     What are you sorry for?

Jayme:                  “What are you saying sorry for? Stop saying sorry.” And so we’ll be in meetings, and because I’ve been able to have some of these conversations, she’ll say it in a meeting, and I’ll just look at her. And she’s like, “Oh, sorry.”

Kent:                     It’s a hard thing to overcome.

Jayme:                  Yeah, exactly. But it’s things like that, that I think women need to have that self-confidence, that they have just as right to be at that table.

Cliff:                       See, and she’s been in the industry for 30 years?

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Cliff:                       So she grew up in an environment where-

Jayme:                  Very different.

Cliff:                       … it was, yeah, way different. It was just like, “What are you doing at this table anyway?”

Jayme:                  Yeah. Yeah, it’s very different.

Cliff:                       Because 30 years ago, I can tell you, there was one engineer at Texaco that was a woman.

Jayme:                  I believe it.

Cliff:                       You know?

Jayme:                  Yeah. We had a department manager that she was an admin 30-some years ago. She retired probably five years ago, but worked her way up all the way to be a department head of an engineering discipline. Didn’t even have a degree in it. She was an admin. That’s where she started way back then, but she knew what she was talking about, and got the respect she deserved, and made her way through the company. But I really do think a lot of it is confidence, and having respect, and really knowing you belong there, and really being a part of the team.

Jayme:                  And I think more people need to talk about it, to be honest, to get more of that equality. And I think it will allow younger women going into college to kind of go into those engineering degrees and those construction degrees, and come into the industry, because it is shifting. And as we’re getting younger people into the industry, their mentality’s very different, because, for me, I don’t know what happened 30 years ago. I only know the stories that people tell me. But my generation’s thought process is very different. And so the more you can get in, eventually that change is going to happen.

Jayme:                  But I think, with women, it is. It’s sit at the table.

Cliff:                       You’ve used the term “it’s confidence.” And I think every individual needs to recognize their own accomplishments and not short-sell themselves. So it’s like, “You’re here at the table for a reason. You’ve had the opportunity to be here. You belong here. If you didn’t belong here, most people wouldn’t bring you. So you need to recognize that and say, ‘Well, I have something to contribute.'”

Cliff:                       When I was in architecture school, I knew I was not the best designer, but I had two professors, when I went through my review, and they went, “You’re a contributor. You always have something to contribute.” And you don’t have to have the best idea, but if you contribute, that contributes to the final idea.

Jayme:                  It’s just teamwork. You saw where you play a part of that team, and as long as you kind of do that role, then you’re going to be successful.

Jayme:                  Yeah, I think the confidence. I think the respect is big, because it’s building the relationship, honestly, at the end of the day. I take time to go around to each of the people I work with, and I have conversations that have nothing to do with work, because I want to get to know them more on a personal level, so that when I do come to talk to them about work, or if there’s like a real big issue we need to figure out, then you’re going to be more receptive to actually supporting me in that.

Jayme:                  At the same time, remember, I’m responsible, but I don’t have authority over you. You actually report to someone else, so it’s more important that my relationship is there, and that I’m not trying to think I know more than you. Because there’s many times with my team, they’ll come to me with a problem and I’m supposed to give them a solution, and I’m like, “Look, you’re the expert.”

Kent:                     Yeah, tell me what we should do.

Jayme:                  “You tell me what we should do, and I’ll let you know if it actually makes sense in the bigger scheme of things or not.” And so I think it’s having that discussion with them, and truly having them buy-in to what you’re doing.

Cliff:                       I’ve told people, when they have a problem, you go to the person who’s directing you, because one thing is it’s no longer your problem. Now you’re sharing the problem. Okay?

Jayme:                  Yeah. Yeah.

Cliff:                       And I had an employer, and I would write something. And I’d go down, and I’d hand it to him. And he’d be like, “Oh, let’s do this, or this, or this.” So we worked on it together and crafted a much better response than if I’d done it all by myself.

Cliff:                       So there is that teamwork all the time. And you need to be able to contribute right off the bat. If you go in and ask, “Well, what do I do? What do I do? What do I do,” the guy who’s directing you doesn’t want to give you all the answers. He might as well write it himself, if he has to give you all those answers.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     You’re not bringing any value to the table.

Cliff:                       Right.

Jayme:                  I have these little rules that I kind of try to follow. So the one I gave you guys is, “If you’re asked to do this, do 5% more.” Well, the same thing is, “If you have a problem, at least present a solution with it. Maybe it’s not the right solution, but at least it’s something to start with, and I know you at least thought about it.”

Kent:                     I’ve tried to come up with a solution. Yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And maybe it’s not right, but maybe mine isn’t either, but maybe we’ll find the right person. Or maybe it’s a combination, like I mentioned earlier, of both ours.

Jayme:                  And I did that a lot. You talk about being a female in the construction industry early-on in my career. So I’m young, I’m female, I’m working pretty much with all men, but the biggest thing is when I worked with my contractor, when I got at the craft level to actually have them start doing work for me, it was a lot of us talking through solutions. I already had an idea what I wanted to do, but I wanted to hear kind of what they thought. They’ve been doing it for how long? Maybe I’ll learn something.

Jayme:                  And there were times where I would say, “You know what? No, we can’t do it that way,” but I would explain why so that they understood it as well. And then there were many times I’m like, “You know what? It’s not a bad idea. Here’s kind of what I was thinking, but what if we kind of did this instead?” And it was a combination of both of our ideas, and it got a lot of buy-in from their general foreman in particular.

Jayme:                  And then I would go out to the craft. Like I told you, I was shadowing everybody. I’d go out to the craft and be like, “Hey, so how do you do this? How do you actually build this?” And those craft guys would get so excited to show you that.

Jayme:                  And so I started building this relationship from each level within the contractor that I was overseeing. And there were nights we would do pours at like 2:00 in the morning, or we’d be out there till like 11:00 at night waiting for the concrete to cure, just so we could broom finish it. And I would sit there and joke around with the guys pouring the concrete, while we were just literally waiting for the concrete to dry. Oh, and I learned a lot about them. And so it just made my job a lot easier, and I had a lot of respect from them.

Jayme:                  And one thing I can say, in my career, I’ve never been in the position where I felt that it had anything to do with my gender. Don’t get me wrong, there’s women I’ve worked with that definitely have been in those positions, but me, personally, in all the experience I have, I have never been in that position.

Jayme:                  And the one area that there was a small chance I thought maybe that could be was a cultural thing, and it was because the hierarchy within their culture. And they reported to me. It took a long time. I shared an office with another individual, at this time that this guy was reporting to me, and definitely two extremely different cultures.

Jayme:                  And we bumped heads a lot, because I’m responsible for it. I need you to tell me all these things that you’re not going to go out there and run this yourself. But I had to be really strategic, and I had to try all these different ways to get through to him, to get him to respect me as to where I should be, and be involved in it. It took a lot of time, but you could see that turn. And it was great sharing an office with somebody that they could give me feedback of the interactions that I was having with this individual.

Jayme:                  And now it’s completely different. This individual, anytime he has an issue, he calls me and says, “Hey, do you have some time to talk? I need some advice.” And I think what he learned is, at the end of the day, I had his back. Even though I maybe had to get on him a couple of times, I still had his back for the right reasons. And I actually saved him in a lot of different situations, where I think now, even though we have cultural differences, I have 100% respect from him.

Jayme:                  And I think that could probably be the only time in my career where I felt the gender card was relevant.

Kent:                     Being played. Yeah.

Cliff:                       I have this question. I have it written down here. So do you think you got set up by your site manager in that office? Have you ever thought that?

Jayme:                  From a growth standpoint?

Cliff:                       Yeah. In other words, he had already picked you out, and he put that VP in the office with you.

Jayme:                  Oh, I do think so, to be honest. How Fluor picks their people for these programs is I had to be on a list somewhere as, “Hey, this is an up-and-coming, a high potential employee. Let’s look at her for getting her into this program.” And Fluor does that. And they’ll secretly have someone come interview you without you even knowing it happened.

Jayme:                  And, so, yeah, I think that could have been part of it. And a lot of it is because a site manager saw what my capabilities were, and made sure I had gotten the exposure within the company.

Cliff:                       That won’t happen here, Kent.

Kent:                     Dang it.

Cliff:                       It’s too small an organization.

Kent:                     Dang it. Yeah, I don’t know where I’m going to go from here. I guess the thing to say, to the females out there, there is no reason you cannot succeed in this field.

Jayme:                  Oh, absolutely not.

Kent:                     And whether your position or the part you play is the bulldog that comes in and fights with everybody upfront, or whether you’re just the supporting role, or whatever, there’s a need for everybody on the team.

Jayme:                  Yeah. Absolutely.

Kent:                     And so you can find your place.

Jayme:                  Yep.

Kent:                     A lot of other people have talked about the culture. Find a company where the culture meshes with you. And if you’ll do that, and maybe it’s not the first company, and maybe it’s not the second company, but eventually you can find a place.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     Moving forward, as we’re going to try to wrap up, students that are in school right now, what are some things you’d suggest they learn?

Jayme:                  I think most programs, I believe, they have to do internships, and rarely do you not have to. I would say take full-

Kent:                     Advantage of that.

Jayme:                  … advantage, because like I said earlier, in school, you’re going to learn the basic of everything that you need to know, but the real experience comes on the job training. And so if you’re in your internship, go shadow everybody that you can. Go above and beyond kind of what role they give you and the tasks and activities they give you, because you’re going to get the quantity takeoffs, the RFI tracking, all those kind of things, but get out in the field and learn from the craft that’s out there, because the more you can understand what they do, the better you’re going to do in your job going into the construction industry.

Kent:                     Internships, internships, internships. It doesn’t matter who it’s for. Whether it’s for the college you’re going to, whether it’s for a subcontractor, if you have to call around and find an internship, the network you’re starting to build-

Jayme:                  Oh, absolutely. And the other point I wanted to make with the network is, and I didn’t realize this till it was too late … Well, not necessarily too late. It actually helped me a lot when I got into grad school and with the relationship with my professors. I wish in undergrad I would’ve made more of an effort to go to their time slots that they allow you to come in and meet with them. And I would’ve just went in and just said, “Hi.”

Cliff:                       Yeah, undergrads never do that.

Jayme:                  No. I didn’t. I was like, “That’s the last thing I want to go do.” But they have their office hours for a certain reason.

Kent:                     Right. For Q&A or whatever.

Jayme:                  Yeah, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be-

Kent:                     School related.

Jayme:                  … about school related. It could be … Go ask them about something else, some job you want to get in. Ask them about a company. What do they know about it? Or a field that you’re interested in. Or what other things that you could be doing to kind of get ahead. And build the relationship with those professors, because, man, that’s one thing I wish I would’ve done more in undergrad, because I’ve seen during grad school how much in my future it played a part, when I didn’t even know it would.

Kent:                     Well, and don’t ever forget about the students in class with you.

Jayme:                  Oh, absolutely.

Kent:                     And how many people are probably kicking themselves, because they didn’t connect with Jayme in LinkedIn?

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah. No, and that’s another huge thing. I don’t even think LinkedIn was-

Kent:                     Popular back then.

Jayme:                  … around when I was in school, and especially in undergrad. But, absolutely, you should be connected with all your classmates. My classmates now and I are. And I can guarantee you, if you called one of them, because your classes are a lot smaller, they would get you in to their company, or at least pass your resume on to the right person. And if you go online and you apply, it kind of sometimes goes into a black hole. If you have a direct connection, it makes a world of difference.

Cliff:                       It makes a huge difference. And you talk about going and seeing your professors. At Rice, we’d have dinner with the Dean. There were maybe five of us that we just developed a relationship with the Dean, and we’d have dinner together. He’d come to our home. We’d go to his home. And he really enjoyed it. He was like, “This is great.” Because most students were like, “You had dinner with the Dean?” We were just like, “Yeah, Jack’s a good guy.”

Jayme:                  Yeah. See? And here’s the thing, if that doesn’t already exist, why not go create that, because I guarantee you the Dean, your professors … Even if it’s like, “Hey, after this class, we’re going to go get a beer. You want to come?” I guarantee you, more times than not, they’ll go with you.

Kent:                     Is there any software or anything you think they should be looking at?

Jayme:                  Definitely understand the scheduling software. And it’s interesting, because each company and industry uses a little bit different.

Kent:                     Different software. And the owner can dictate if they want a different one on a project.

Jayme:                  That’s right. That’s right. So I think if you get kind of those basic ones done around scheduling … You know what’s really interesting is you see RFIs and change orders being tracked, whether it’s in a program … A lot of times you even see it just in an Excel file.

Kent:                     Excel spreadsheet.

Jayme:                  Right? So I think it’s learning kind of those. And one thing that helped, I can tell you this, that I think set me apart a lot in construction is I knew AutoCAD.

Jayme:                  And the students that I teach that go into construction, I’ve gotten emails from them, now that they have started their actual careers and have graduated and are actually working, where I’ve gotten emails back from them saying, “Thank you for learning AutoCAD.” Because it’s one of those tools that you can use for so many different things during construction.

Jayme:                  And the other tool that I teach my students, that is a huge lifesaver and free, is SketchUp. That is one of those tools that, man, that comes in handy all the time.

Jayme:                  So those would kind of be the two big ones. Because the other academic programs for undergrad, you’re going to learn kind of some of those anyway. So the two that you might not always get exposed to would be SketchUp and AutoCAD. So I would say definitely those two would help.

Kent:                     Well, and if nothing else, there’s some great YouTube videos about SketchUp.

Jayme:                  Oh, yeah.

Kent:                     And you can teach yourself.

Jayme:                  To be honest, I make my students teach themselves, because that’s the only way you’re really going to learn it. I’ll sit in and I’ll do a few examples. And I’ll show what past students have done.

Kent:                     Let me show you what this can do.

Jayme:                  Yep. “But, hey, here’s all the references you guys need to go check out.”

Jayme:                  And the funny thing is, I give them a scope of work, and I give them the plot on an image, and I make them go build the site. And they have to do all the heavy haul road, and they have to do the temporary facilities, and then have to build the site of how this would all work. And then they have to put their construction plan together, how they’re going to execute it.

Jayme:                  Well, it’s funny, because when I get the students’ projects back, because it’s a semester project, you can tell so quick who spent time on it, and who quickly put this together.

Kent:                     The last week they were stressing about it. Yeah.

Jayme:                  Yeah. And some students, more times than not, actually get really interested and actually spend a lot of time on it. And they learn the program. By the end of that project, you know SketchUp, and you’ll use it in construction, I can tell you that.

Kent:                     Awesome. Is there any technology you’ve seen that just kind of blows your mind?

Jayme:                  Well, funny enough, I lead this innovation team at Fluor, and we were given this industry challenge that we had to come up with the solution for. And so we’ve kind of created this entire solution. I can’t go into it, but there is so much construction technology out there, just from my research developing our solution, that it is growing quickly. And the fact that you can take a 360 degree camera and walk through a site, come back to your computer and actually pull somewhat accurate … You’re off, give or take a couple of inches, but for construction, you can pull measurements on it. You can make comments on these 360 photorealistic images. And I think that is huge.

Jayme:                  There’s a lot of stuff around safety now between drones.

Kent:                     Yeah, you can make a career out of just being a construction drone operator.

Jayme:                  You could. And here’s a crazy thing too, is on any site there’s so much technology out there to make your job easier now, and more and more is getting created, that you could almost take a component from each little piece to create what you actually really need it to do. And a lot of these companies out here, that that’s what their main focus is, will actually work with you to better their technology. And it could end up becoming a pretty good partnership.

Kent:                     Any other advice or anything you’d like to give kids that are looking at a career?

Jayme:                  I think the biggest areas that I focus on is just do 5% more than you’re always asked. And when you kind of get into this career, that will go noticed. The easier you make your boss’s life, the happier they’re going to be, and you’re going to get more responsibilities.

Jayme:                  And you hit on the company culture. I think when you’re looking for jobs, really pay attention to that. And if you’re comfortable, and you see yourself fitting into that company and the dynamic of that company, and not expecting that you know everything at the beginning, because you don’t … There’s a lot you don’t know. There’s a lot I don’t know right now. But I think the culture and doing that 5% extra is key.

Kent:                     Awesome. Well, we appreciate you coming on, Jayme.

Jayme:                  Yeah.

Kent:                     We really are grateful. It’s hard to get people to come on. I’ve reached out to a couple. One of the women at Whiting-Turner we’ve worked with, she’s scared to death of public speaking. And so we appreciate that you came and would come on and talk. And, again, it’s like our first celebrity we’ve had.

Jayme:                  Yeah, celebrity. Well, no, I appreciate you inviting me. And, no, it’s just been great, and I think it’s great what you guys are doing, and especially helping college students and getting people into this industry. And I wish something like this was around when I was up and coming into it.

Kent:                     And that’s kind of the driving force. What should they know? What do you wish you had known when you were in their position? And we’ve had a lot of great advice. It’s so funny that every episode touches on some of the same key points.

Jayme:                  No, I believe it.

Kent:                     And I hope that resonates with people. You’re going to have to eventually learn this, and so the faster you do it, the better it is.

Jayme:                  Yep.

Kent:                     For the listeners, we’d love to hear from where all the listeners are. We see the geography of where they’re coming from. We’ve got people from Australia, United Kingdom, India. Feel free to drop us a line. I’d love to hear some intake, if there’s things that you think we could do better.

Kent:                     You can always reach me at Kent@ConstructionCareerPodcast.com, so please take a few minutes and shoot out an email.

Kent:                     Everybody, good luck in your career.

Kent:                     Anything you were wanting to say, Cliff?

Cliff:                       No.

Kent:                     Sounds great. Well, we appreciate it, again. And have a good evening, everybody.

 

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