December 4, 2015
November 27, 2015
Neely Smith is a new proposal specialist in the Tempe, Arizona office. Although her roots are in the Midwest, she has lived in the Phoenix area on and off since 1988, when her family moved there as part of her father’s job with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
Neely graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a minor in History. After graduating, she moved to Tennessee for a graphics internship with the Memphis Redbirds, a minor-league baseball affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. She then briefly worked for a publishing company in St. Louis until she found her way into the proposal and architecture, engineering and construction world. She worked for an architecture firm in St. Louis for 2 years and spent the past 7.5 years with an environmental planning and landscape architecture firm.
What are the most important qualities a good proposal specialist must have?
Persistence, pleasantness, calmness, a good eye for detail and a good sense of humor.
What was it about Sundt that made you want to work here?
Initially, I was looking for new challenges. After working on design proposals for nearly 10 years, I was excited about the chance to bring my skills to a new company in a related industry. After doing my research on Sundt and hearing what good things everyone had to say, I was beyond excited. Coming from smaller firms, I’m blown away by the amount of resources Sundt has to help prepare winning proposals. Everyone I’ve met has been so kind and helpful and truly seems to love working for the company. The culture is great and it’s wonderful to know that Sundt is doing great things for the community through the Sundt Foundation. Not to mention the Employee Stock Ownership Plan and excellent health benefits for my family and me. I feel very fortunate to have found this opportunity.
What do you like doing when you’re not at work?
Spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the Arizona sunshine and trying to catch a nap when I can. I’m a big St. Louis Cardinals baseball and Arizona Cardinals football fan. I am also a podcast junkie. I love learning things and listening to interesting stories, so shows like “This American Life,” “Radiolab” and “Stuff You Should Know” are some of my favorite ways to pass time during my commutes. I’m also a big supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association (I lost my mother to the disease in 2013) and like to help raise funds and awareness through the local Phoenix chapter.
Read any good books lately?
Most of my reading these days involve children’s books (my girls, who are 3 and almost 2, are big Dr. Seuss fans!), but I enjoy biographies, satire and anything by David Sedaris or Michael Chabon.
Where do you like to travel?
I don’t travel as much as I’d like to. We often use our vacation time to visit our families in the Midwest. I would love to travel to Western Europe or New Zealand, but there is also so much I’d like to see domestically, namely Glacier National Park in Montana. It’s No. 1 on my list!
What inspired you to move back to Arizona after going back to your native Midwest?
I grew tired of dealing with ice storms and snow. In Arizona, I don’t have to scrape ice off my windshield with credit cards and wear heavy coats. I love the desert climate.
August 29, 2014
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.
Tempe employees flexing their muscles and showing their spirit for Sundt Spirit Day.
Who’s got spirit? These Sundt employees do! Once every quarter, each of Sundt’s offices holds a Spirit Day – a day to celebrate all of the great things about working at Sundt. Spirit Days are times to have fun, enjoy spending non-working time with coworkers, and maybe learn something new.
Employees were offered assistance setting up ergonomic work spaces.
The theme of the last Spirit Day at our Tempe headquarters was health and wellness. The purpose was to support Sundt’s goal to become the healthiest company in the industry, to help people think outside of the box when it comes to their own health, and to promote simple, healthy changes.
The day’s events included a free yoga class, health-related giveaways from numerous vendors, a demonstration of an ergonomic workstation setup, free menu-planning, Zumba, bingo, raffle prizes and more. The follow-up challenge is a “steps competition” that runs for 30 days. Participants were encouraged to utilize the technology they have (i.e. smartphones, fit bits, or pedometers) and get active. Steps will be reported weekly and the winner at the end will receive a personal blender with a healthy smoothies recipe book.
The event’s wellness theme was displayed on t-shirts and other giveaways.
That’s how you show your company spirit!