Our industry is driven by relationships. Whether it’s continued work with a client, a partnership with a long-time trade partner, or connecting with the future leaders of the industry, Balfour Beatty knows these relationships run the business.
Balfour Beatty and its employees have a long-standing connection with University of Florida’s Rinker School of Construction Management. The sustained relationship brings out the best in both our company and the nationally ranked program’s students.
This year marked more than a decade of involvement with the School’s Associated Builders and Contractors Student Chapter construction management competition team, which placed second overall, at the ABC Student Competition. The annual competition is “designed to challenge construction knowledge, organization, time management and presentation skills,” providing construction management students a look at the real world of construction. The team of five top-talent students, which was sponsored by Balfour Beatty, competed against 14 other top-tier programs.
The sponsorship goes far beyond financial assistance. About one month prior to the presentation, the participating teams receive a request for proposal, and from that moment, Balfour Beatty staff mentors and coaches the team throughout the whole process. During this time, the students come to the Balfour Beatty Orlando office for a peer review of the team’s proposal and knowledge share with the students.
Prior to the presentation, the competition releases an addendum to the request for proposal (RFP) and gives the students a tight deadline to make any changes. Once the changes are submitted, Balfour Beatty can no longer advise the students.
On competition day, the teams will complete an exercise led by the competition’s committee. From there, student teams are shortlisted and compete for the top spot with face-to-face interviews with the competition’s judges.
“It is a great opportunity for Balfour Beatty and the industry’s rising stars to build connections and network,” Neal Ernest, operations director, said. “And, I think we get as much out of the experience as the students.”
Balfour Beatty continues to invest in these students because it knows that experiences outside the classroom are fundamental to succeeding in the field. The connections made have proved to be beneficial for both the UF team, Balfour Beatty and individual students.
Melissa Thacker first learned about Balfour Beatty when she competed as the ABC Construction Management Competition Team Captain for the University of Florida. She led her team to a third-place finish in 2016 and 2017, and the success at the competition transitioned into an internship, where she played an integral role in several high-profile projects.
Fast forward to 2022, Melissa is a project manager at Balfour Beatty, and she continues to be involved in the competition as a judge. As a judge, she reviews the proposal submissions from each team and attends the teams’ final presentations.
Melissa’s continued support comes from her desire to give back to students who are in the same position as she was by providing the real-world learning and development opportunities simultaneously inspiring young builders and dreamers while giving them hands-on experiences.
Balfour Beatty’s engagement with the university continues year-round. Between experiential learning programs, like working with the ABC student chapters and providing internship opportunities, mentoring through resume reviews and guest lecturing, and awarding annual scholarships to Rinker School students through our endowed fund, the Balfour Beatty team is committed to the next generation of builders.
Senior Vice President and Business Unit Leader John Harris supports future industry leaders and the Rinker School in a different capacity. He sits on the Rinker School Industry Advisory Board, which serves as a liaison between industry and the school – including guidance on curriculum, fundraising, advising on industry trends and serving as an overall resource to students and faculty. In addition to the Executive Committee, John chairs the Development Committee of the RSIAB.
“The Rinker School gave me the foundation to get started as a young person in our industry and ultimately build a career as a construction professional,” John says. “I want to continue to support and give back to the school and our future UF grads so they can continue a legacy of best-in-class builders in our industry.”