November 27, 2015
November 20, 2015
With 20 years in the human resources field, Jill Lawson recently started with Sundt in Tempe, Arizona, as a Compensation and Benefits Analyst.
She worked in management for Motorola before becoming the Director of Compensation and Benefits for a large division at General Dynamics. Her last job before entering semi-retirement was as Vice President of Human Resources for a Healthcare Benefits provider in Scottsdale. While semi-retired, she joined the City of Tempe’s Crisis Response team to support 911 calls.
Jill holds a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University in Information Systems and has a master’s from Pepperdine University in Organization Development.
She recently took time to answer a few questions about her life at and away from the office.
What does your job involve?
Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and compensation. I spent a majority of my first two months learning about and supporting our ESOP program. The compensation component is just starting to pick up.
How important is it for the company to stay current on what each of our positions pay relative to the market?
Compensation plays a critical role in an organization’s ongoing and increasingly challenging efforts to attract, retain and motivate a talented workforce. Market pricing provides us with important data to make informed decisions that need to align with our organizational strategies.
How much of a role does the Employee Stock Ownership Plan play in employee-owner satisfaction?
It can be enormous. It is said that when you rent a car you don’t take it to the car wash. When you own the car you wash it and take care of it because it is important to you. I see that mirrored here at Sundt with our employee-owner culture. The pride our employees take in the company and their work transfers to their satisfaction at work.
What’s the most satisfying thing about working here?
After deciding to restart work full-time, I had a lengthy list of criteria and Sundt met all those. What I like most so far is the positive work environment and an abundance of smart, helpful and committed people.
Seen any good movies lately?
My husband and I only go to movies a couple of times a year and we lean toward comedies. Our last favorite was “Spy” with Melissa McCarthy. On the line of humor, one of my current favorite TV shows is “The Science of Stupid” and a favorite book was “Death in the Grand Canyon.”
One of Jill’s holiday hobbies is building edible gingerbread houses.
What are some of your hobbies?
Living here in Arizona, I thoroughly enjoy sports and the outdoors. Hiking, golfing, biking, swimming and weightlifting are at the top of the list. I also enjoy cooking, reading and rally training with our new dog. The current ‘hobby’ going on at our house right now is gingerbread. Each year, I design, construct and decorate a relatively elaborate house. It takes about 100 hours of work and everything must be edible.
Do you have a motto that sums up your approach to life?
For as long as I can remember I have embraced the concepts and methodology of project management, both at home and at work. One of my favorite sayings is, “When the ship misses the harbor, it’s rarely the harbor’s fault.” Planning, execution and flexibility have proven time and again to be critical to success.
September 24, 2015
Athena McKee is a Business Development Representative in the Tempe office. Most of her work experience stems from her career in commercial real estate where she focused on sales, client services and marketing. Her brokerage teams concentrated on office, retail and industrial properties.
She also worked for a non-profit organization where she planned and facilitated outreach programs for First Things First, an organization created by Arizona voters to improve the quality of early childhood centers, education, healthcare and family support for children.
She’s a loyal Sun Devils fan and has an MBA from Grand Canyon University and an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University.
Get to know Athena a little better by reading the Q&A session we recently conducted with her.
What was it about Sundt that made you want to work here?
My brother starting working with Sundt right out of college. He graduated from Arizona State’s Del E. Webb School of Construction with an engineering degree. My brother speaks very highly of Sundt and he sold me on the overall culture, people and employee-ownership platform. I am happy I listened to his brotherly advice to join the Sundt team as I am happy to be here!
What has been the most exciting thing about your job?
It has been exciting for me to meet so many new people. I am enjoying getting to know my team. I have also had the opportunity to meet clients and partners at conferences in Las Vegas and New Orleans. I am also impressed by Building Information Modeling, which was an integral part of a recent pitch presentation. I appreciate how 3D modeling tools help our team anticipate and solve issues before the shovel hits the ground.
What have you learned about the construction industry that surprised you?
I am surprised by the synergy and teamwork involved at all levels for each and every project. From bidding and preconstruction to scheduling and estimating, planning and bidding. And that is just the beginning. There are so many experienced minds at work in construction even before breaking ground. And I especially respect the operations side of things and the builders who make it all happen.
What’s the most important characteristic of people in the business development field?
The ability to not only build quality buildings, but to build trust, integrity and purpose for clients. This involves the commitment to foresee and realize win-win situations. Go above and beyond. Create competitive advantages. Add value. Do what you say. Be organized with processes and consistent follow-up to build and foster relationships.
Who has been your most influential mentor and what did that person teach you?
I had the opportunity to work with a successful commercial real estate broker, Mike Marinovich, at CBRE. Mike became a mentor and taught me a lot about balancing career and family life. In fact, he favored prioritizing family over career, which was a new perspective for me. Yet this is an important viewpoint to have in a client services and sales career where your work and networking events frequently blend into your personal time. Mike also taught me how to be myself and let my personable nature shine while maintaining a professional demeanor. I think a lot of “business” people can end up coming across as cold and impersonal. I never wanted to be like that. Mike taught me to honor my friendly, amiable side along with my strong, assertive professional side.
What do you do for fun away from work?
I have the most fun running around with my two sons, Braeden (7) and Ben (4). We like to find new playgrounds and parks throughout the Phoenix Valley and play every sport you can think of. My boys have tons of energy. I get all the exercise I need just trying to keep up with them. We also like to visit different resort pools in the summer. Braeden and I play golf together year-round. I only play at rural courses where I know I will not run into anyone I know because I am a self-taught terrible golfer. Other than that, I like traveling to San Diego and Sedona on weekends.
Where do you like to travel?
I love going to San Diego as much as possible during the summer. My brother lives there and my boys and I are huge beach fans. I also like visiting my parents in Northern Arizona at least once a month. It’s a beautiful area with rolling green hills and vineyards. It has become a weekend retreat for me to get away from the hustle and bustle here in Phoenix.
Is there a quote or saying that summarizes your approach to life?
I like both of these quotes from author and lecturer Marianne Williamson. The first because it reminds me to be cognizant of my own thoughts and cognitive dissonance. It is easy to forget how important our thoughts are, especially self-talk. I am a proponent of examining one’s own negative beliefs and faulty assumptions to ensure nothing gets in the way of making ideal, rational decisions based on the information at hand. I like the second quote as well because it is empowering. I live by the philosophy that every individual is powerful and important.
“You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think.”
“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.”
April 15, 2015
Our Talent Management team creating hygiene kits at St. Vincent de Paul.
The envelope, please.
We’re one of 12 finalists for the Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and one of two companies in the running for the Social Impact Award.
Members of our Concrete team help pack the truck for Hidden Treasures Thrift Shop in Chandler.
To qualify for the social impact category, a company must have demonstrated significant impact on Arizona community(ies) as a core part of business operations.
Nominees in all categories must have exhibited the college’s hallmark traits of ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship.
The 19th annual awards recognize businesses that positively impact the economy while exhibiting ethics, energy and excellence in entrepreneurship. The six winners, one from each of the categories, as well as a national winner will be announced Nov. 20 during an ASU luncheon at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.
September 3, 2014
An important goal of many universities today is to link their educational programs with robust fitness and recreational facilities, thereby increasing students’ success and satisfaction with higher education.
A benchmark project for achieving this is the recently completed Sun Devil Fitness Complex, Arizona State University’s signature facility on the western edge of its downtown Phoenix campus. The university construction project’s unique approach to meeting the needs of the approximately 70,000 students who attend classes at ASU’s metropolitan campuses has earned it a 2015 Outstanding Sports Facilities Award from the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA).
Presented each year at the NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo, the awards honor facilities that demonstrate excellence in a number of critical areas, including architectural design, functionality, and how well the facility meets its intended purpose. Winning facilities exemplify the institution’s commitment to providing the higher education experience desired and valued by students.
The five-story, 70,000-square-foot Sun Devil student recreation center is particularly important to ASU students, who voted to fund the construction through increased recreation fees. It includes an indoor track, rooftop swimming pool, large gymnasium, weight room, multi-purpose space, student lounge, bike co-op and locker rooms. The complex also houses Exercise and Wellness, an academic program in ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion.
As a LEED Silver facility, the complex includes sustainable design strategies such as: rooftop gardens; low-flow plumbing fixtures; water-efficient landscape; high efficiency HVAC systems; and a super-insulated building envelope. Measures taken by the design and construction team reduced overall construction waste by over 80 percent.
Preliminary rendering of the reconstructed Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University in Tempe
Arizona State University football fans have something extra to cheer about: they won’t have to stop rooting for the Sun Devils while Sundt and joint venture partner Hunt Construction Group perform a $256 million transformation of the school’s football stadium. That’s because the project has been carefully planned to avoid interrupting the fan experience.
The Construction Manager at Risk project involves the complete reconstruction of the lower stadium bowl and the addition of many new amenities and improvements that reflect the university’s emphasis on sustainability, technology and innovation.
“All of the work will be threaded between football seasons, with construction performed in the stadium during the off seasons while the team is practicing,” says Ryan Abbott, Sundt Business Development Manager. “In order to avoid disrupting the football season, we have to control and deliver all of the massive components that will become the seating bowls, structural beds, towers, etc., on a very rigid schedule. We can do it because we’re builders. As far as the football team is concerned, it’s like Disneyland. We’re practically invisible.”
The university construction project is poised to redefine stadiums in the Pac 12 with more and higher quality amenities such as a new concourse, better seating, more restrooms with enhanced quality, a new student athlete facility, premium seating such as founder and club-level suites, better training facilities, improved concessions, a premiere video board and sound system, extensive accessibility improvements, an air-conditioned club, in-stadium technology for fan enjoyment and education, and an expanded student section on the stadium’s south end that will include about 8,000 seats.
Construction of the student section will begin in January (minutes after the Cactus Bowl concludes) and will be complete before the 2015-2016 football season next August. Next January the construction team will simultaneously go to work on the east and west sidelines of the lower bowl. Demolition work has already begun to clear space for the new student section.