Employee-owned C&I Engineering believes investing in their employees is an investment in the company’s future. In a competitive environment, bringing talent into the organization (and retaining valuable employees) is vital to the company’s success. C&I partnered with UofL Professional Development to provide employees the skills necessary for growth.
C&I Engineering is a full-service engineering design company with over 30 years of experience in refining, chemical and industrial industries. As an employee-owned company, C&I recognizes the importance of bringing talented employees into the firm and keeping them. Manager of Human Resources Joy Kerr noticed that many employees were being promoted from technical roles into managerial positions and lacked some of the soft skills exhibited by successful managers. She turned to University of Louisville Professional Development, with whom she’d been working since 2007, for help.
“We believe that we are only as good as our employees,” Joy stated. “We wanted to create a program that would help them develop some of these soft skills such as conflict management, assertiveness training, and how to work with difficult personalities.”
Setting Shared Goals
As the first step, UofL Professional Development conducted a daylong workshop with C&I’s executive council to identify the goals and objectives of the training program. Based on these goals, the Project Lead certificate program was created. Participants attended a series of custom-built seminars on topics such as time management, interpersonal and written communication, assertiveness, problem solving and more.
Through the planning session with C&I’s leadership, the Professional Development team was able to identify and understand specific characteristics of their company culture, work environment and processes. These characteristics and specific workplace scenarios were woven into each seminar.
“One thing that really impressed us working with UofL is that they listened. They made the time to come out to meet with C&I’s executive team and really find out what we wanted the participants to learn. From there they wanted to know our processes and procedures so they could blend that with their training programs. That gave our employees an opportunity to learn the soft skills but to understand these are real life situations that they would be up against. It made it more personal,” Joy explained about the program.
Project Engineering Chief Ray Roberson added, “Trainers at UofL know us personally. They know what we need and know what we need to implement on projects. That’s been excellent for us.”
“One thing that really impressed us working with UofL is that they listened. They made the time to meet with C&I’s Executive team to really find out what we wanted the participants to learn. From there they wanted to know our processes and procedures so they could blend these practices with their training programs. This method gave our employees the opportunity to not only learn about dealing with diverse situations, but also understand these are real life situations they will encounter and be expected to manage. It made it more personal.”
Bridging Skill Gaps
By embracing a culture of continuous learning, C&I is able to retain and promote the top talent that is attracted to their firm. As employees grow with the company, management looks for opportunities to address specific skill gaps. These gaps were addressed by the seminars developed for the Project Lead certificate program.
“Engineering is important of course, it’s in our title, but you have to learn the soft skills. You have to learn how to problem solve, how to work with your teammates and to communicate with your teammates, how to be a better business writer, all of those different things. Besides engineering, you have to learn the soft skills in order to be more successful as a whole,” Professional Engineer Shea Gossett said about the program’s outcome.
Many participants identified the Interpersonal Communication seminar as the most beneficial. Production Coordinator Alanna Plummer explained, “It allowed us to learn more about the way we communicate and to communicate more effectively with other personality types.”
At the culmination of the program, participants were split into groups and asked to tackle a problem or project important to C&I leadership. A senior team member sponsored each group by giving advice and support. Participants felt ownership and pride at being asked to address an important company issue. Tyler Davidson, project coordinator, said, “We were able to express our opinions and thoughts about how we could potentially change the way we do things around here to make it more efficient, make a better product and make C&I a better company.”
C&I management used the capstone projects as a way to measure the success of the program. “My favorite part of this program was the evidence that I saw at the end when they shared part of their training with us as managers. It was very evident to me that leadership characteristics had developed in these individuals,” Ray explained. “There were quite a few things from the capstone projects that we are going to use,” Joy added, “We saw the leadership skills of some of the participants evolve.”
“This was an outstanding investment for C&I. It was the executives’ way of saying we believe in you and we see you having a future with C&I and we are willing to take this money and this time and put it into your career development.”
Both participants and stakeholders in the Project Lead certificate program recognized that investing in employee learning gives C&I a strategic advantage. “A lot of companies, all they’re worried about is turning a profit, but we have some good leaders that take the time out to plan and allocate money for things such as training that will make the company better in the long run,” Tyler shared.
Alanna echoed that statement, “This was an outstanding investment for C&I. It was the executives’ way of saying we believe in you and we see you having a future with C&I and we are willing to take this money and this time and put it into your career development.”
Move Your Organization Forward
Find out how you can invest in employee development and your organization’s future. Whether you have specific learning goals or are looking for supplemental training, we can help you strategically develop your workforce. Contact us at 502.852.4620 to learn about partnering with UofL Professional Development.