A passion for people first
Kim Hodges knows how to pivot to follow her passion, a journey that took her through the halls of Fortune 500 companies like Pfizer and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the rigors of public accounting and two master’s degrees before finding her calling as a human resources (HR) leader at Balfour Beatty.
Every step along the way prepared Kim to bring a unique perspective to HR. With her business background, she understands how people drive company operations and financial performance, and with her HR background, she knows how company operations impact people. “Interactions are always personal,” she explains.
Construction as a Career Choice
In an industry where workforce shortages are common and the need to attract and retain top talent is vital, Kim’s experiences in college, as an intern, entering the workforce and making a career transition provide valuable insight.
“We need to start our outreach as early as sixth or seventh grade to let kids know they can have a wonderful career in construction. We have to start building that pipeline through outreach and internships,” she says.
The Value of Internships
Kim knows first-hand just how invaluable internships can be for students. As a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), one of more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the U.S., she was required to complete three internships that provided a year-and-a-half of work experience at Fortune 500 companies before graduating with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration.
“HBCUs offer a wealth of untapped talent. If we identify a shortage, gaps in talent or positions with high turnover, we can work with HBCU leaders to develop intern programs that prepare people for careers in construction and that also meet the needs of students,” says Kim.
Drawing on her own experience as an intern, Kim identified some best practices that can help elevate Balfour Beatty’s intern programs. For example, some companies help students by making it financially viable for them to participate through paid internships and, in some cases, by assisting with housing for students who need temporary living arrangements when an internship is located at a distance.
To further enrich her intern experience, at one company Kim was paired with a senior leader as a sponsor. Her sponsor helped in ways that would grow a career—he gave sound advice, made introductions that helped her build relationships and provided access to high-level projects. In addition, Kim observed how companies that maintained contact and followed up after an internship stood out. “I received a note that said ‘We hope all is well. Good luck with your midterms!’ along with a gift of cookies,” Kim recalls.
Meeting the Needs of Today’s Workforce
To help Balfour Beatty attract emerging industry talent, Kim keeps pace with what young people seek in a career and workplace culture.
“Young adults are looking for a holistic life experience, where work and home are not completely divided and their concerns can be shared. They want to know if a company is globally aware and caring, like with our participation in Bridges to Prosperity. Young people are interested in hearing about opportunities to grow their careers or make lateral career moves, how Balfour Beatty communicates with employees, how we responded to COVID-19 and whether we are keeping at the forefront of technology.”
Early in her accounting career, Kim experienced the power of lateral opportunities when she was asked to work on people-oriented committees. She served on a company culture council tasked with improving employee engagement and a learning and development committee. These experiences were transformative.
Not only did Kim realize how much she enjoyed working with people but she also saw how critical employee engagement is to collaboration and enjoyment at work. “The best events bring people together, create greater camaraderie, ultimately leading to deeper connections and more of a family atmosphere at work.”
Pivoting to Find a Perfect Fit
Knowing she wanted to work more with people, Kim looked for an opportunity to shift over to her company’s HR department, but there were no openings. So to launch her new career path, Kim went back to school and earned a second master’s degree in HR and certification as an HR professional from Georgia State University (GSU).
A friend recommended Balfour Beatty to Kim, and she soon found her perfect fit. In her role as HR manager, Kim appreciates how Balfour Beatty’s people-first culture enhances employee engagement, learning and development opportunities and local team cultures.
Once, Kim ran into a former accounting coworker who asked why she transitioned to HR. Kim says, “I’m in it for the passion! I’ve found my fit. I love working with people who take pride in what they do and are focused on becoming one collaborative company.”
At Balfour Beatty, where our people are our greatest strength, Kim’s passion for people ensures that our people-first culture is ingrained in everything we do.