Gene Roberts, an Alberici Safety Manager with a recognized passion for safety, was the keynote speaker at the AGC of Missouri's annual Spring Safety Banquet earlier this month.
The banquet honors and recognizes individuals and organizations for leading and performing work safely. This was the second occasion where a “non-celebrity” presented the keynote address.
Gene has worked in the construction industry 34 years with experience throughout the US and Canada in heavy industrial projects, healthcare, automotive, food and beverage and energy markets.
He spoke of Safety Leadership, and talked of several key points that resonated with the audience whether they were apprentices, attending the banquet for the first time, or long-term career individuals in the construction industry. Briefly, they were:
- Listening to safety concerns
- Leading by example, experience and willingness
- Always approaching safety in a positive manner
- Recognizing responsibility for safety
- Encouraging the reporting of safety concerns and correcting problems
- Coordinating and overseeing work
- Realizing that skill levels may vary, so the buddy system and mentoring are essential
- Realizing that no one has any more responsibility for safety and making sure that safety issues are corrected than oneself
Gene also talked about the rewards of being a safety leader – not so much in terms of money, but rather knowing you can face yourself in the mirror every day and lay your head on your pillow every night knowing that you did your best and that you made a difference. He spoke about how much one's family and friends mean when you commit to working safely. He also discussed how employers, trades unions, safety personnel and project management teams have to believe in safety, train and educate the workforce, respect the workers and be consistent with our message.
Victoria Fleddermann, Director of Business Development for Alberici’s Industrial Process group, started as an intern and has worked for Alberici for her entire career. To conclude NAWIC’s annual Women in Construction week, we asked Victoria to reflect on her career and the role of women in the construction industry.
1. Can you tell us about your path to the construction industry?
I wanted a challenging career and elected to get an engineering degree. My uncle, an Alberici Vice President at the time, learned of my aspirations and gave me the chance to visit a project site, and I was hooked.
2. What do you like most about working in construction?
For 17 years, I worked in the field as a project engineer and project manager. I enjoyed involvement with Alberici’s diverse projects, including automotive plants, power plants, industrial facilities and buildings, and I enjoyed working with some great project teams. Working in the construction industry gives you the chance to be part of something much larger than yourself. Visiting projects I’ve worked on in the past, including Monsanto Chesterfield, the Scottrade Center and the St. Louis Galleria Mall, always stirs a memory.
In my current role in the Industrial Process group, I am exposed to new manufacturing processes from our large variety of clients, which I find fascinating. I also enjoy the challenge of finding opportunities that are the best fit for Alberici’s expertise and resources.
3. Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced in your career and how you approached it.
When starting a new project, you often have to establish credibility with a new team. I’ve found that seeking insight and opinions from more experienced field people before making decisions provides a basis to grow mutual respect.
4. Do you have any advice for women entering the construction industry?
We are all here to do our jobs to the best of our abilities; having a mindset that gender is a non-issue helps set the stage. Take on challenges, and get involved in professional associations such as the Associated General Contractors (AGC) or the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA). Having a mentor or two to turn to for advice is also invaluable.