January is National Mentoring Month. National Mentoring Month is a widespread campaign to spread awareness around the importance of mentoring in society, as well as celebrate its positive impact.

National Mentoring Month’s 3 key goals are:

  1. To raise awareness of all the different types of mentoring
  2. To inspire more people to become mentors
  3. To advance the growth of mentoring by encouraging organizations to run mentoring programs for their people

In honor of National Mentoring Month, we’ll be sharing several interviews throughout the month that highlight Hyder employees whose career growth has been directly impacted by mentors.

Thank you to Ryan Bush for being our first interview subject!

An Interview With Project Manager, Ryan Bush

Dana: How has mentoring—being mentored, mentoring others—played a role in your career?

Ryan: Well, I would say that I haven’t had a formal mentorship or mentor, but I’ve had various people that I’ve worked under that I’ve been able to have a close working relationship with and slowly start to take on various tasks or responsibilities from that person. Which, in turn, obviously grows my skill set at whatever that task or responsibility is. Organic growth is how it works here, you’ve got to be willing to find those opportunities and ask for those opportunities where you can take on additional tasks, responsibilities, and then advance through your career that way.

Dana: Could you give me some specific examples?

Ryan: Lockheed AVL is the first example that comes to mind. On that project, I helped with the estimating portion of it (Scott, Damon, and I put the estimate together on that), but then it was given to another project manager who’s no longer here. That project manager had too much on his plate in order to effectively manage the startup of that project, and I was a little bit slow at that time. So I went to Damon in that case and said, “I’d like to just take this project back completely and run with it because I have the capacity to do it right now, and he doesn’t have the capacity to do it right now.” And they, Damon and Scott, said yes. And so, I ran with it. And whenever there were questions that I had or anything like that, I would go to Damon or Scott and ask the question and get whatever support I needed to make the right decision or keep the project moving forward.

Dana: Do you feel like there have been people specifically either here at Hyder or in the past that have been instrumental in your career as far as you being promoted to project manager?

Ryan: Definitely. I first started at Hyder working on Columbine Country Club, which was a super demanding project to begin with. And then, I was working under a super-demanding project manager on that job, as well as a super-demanding superintendent. There was a ton of emphasis put on attention to detail. And I think that out of everything, that has probably been one of the most formative points in my career with Hyder was that job and learning what the expectation was going to be going forward and all of our standard operating procedures. At the end of the day, our commitment to quality and customer service. And because that job was so challenging from a detail-orientation perspective, I gained a ton of experience with that, and that’s been huge going forward. That arose out of being close with that project manager and that superintendent and continually asking questions and asking how to do things better, more efficiently, getting feedback from them and going out and asking for those opportunities myself.

Dana: Now that you are a project manager, what do you feel like your responsibility is in mentoring others?

Ryan: Hyder puts a lot of emphasis on organic growth. So, for us to grow organically in the way that I was promoted to a project manager, that Nate Bauder was promoted to a project manager, there had to be somebody above me who was willing to bring me up in the ranks. Now that I’m in that management position, I need to be willing to do the same thing. Taking opportunities where you can give your project engineers or assistant superintendents, or anybody who is working in a support role for you, more responsibility and bigger tasks and even things that are outside of their comfort zone is really important.

When I was very green PE working on Columbine, there were a handful of contracts, the small contracts, that the project manager said, “Take a stab at writing these, and then send them to me when you’re done. And I’ll review them and see what holes there are in them.” That was very formative in that attention to detail and how to look at a drawing or a set of specs and turn that into a subcontract for one specific scope of work.

So, I guess I’d just say taking those opportunities to take people a little bit outside their comfort zone. Something that’s possible for them to do, but not necessarily easy.

Dana: Are there people in your career that you knew either here at Hyder or from the past, that you would say thank you to them for the way that they’ve helped you in your career?

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I mean, everybody that I’ve worked with at Hyder. Everybody I’ve worked with at Hyder, who’s still at Hyder, I would say thank you to. Everybody that I’ve worked with that’s no longer here, I think I would say thank you to. Without Colin, Damon, Doug, and the close working relationship that I’ve had with all of those guys on the various projects that I’ve been with them on, there’s no chance that I would be where I’m at now. Without Colin, Damon, and Doug giving me opportunities to get outside of my comfort zone with something that I can do, but don’t necessarily know a hundred percent of, that’s what fills in all those gray areas.

I think the best way to be intrinsically motivated to help others move up in their career is still having motivation to move up in your own career. There’s no way that I would get to the next stepping stone of senior project manager without continued mentorship, learning opportunity, whatever you want to call it, from the senior PMs and from the project executives. And so, if I want to do that, I should be looking at the project engineers now and say, “Okay, well how can I help them get to where I’m at?” Because again, somebody did that for me, and these guys are continuing to do that for me.

Dana: What do you feel like as a mentee, your personal responsibility is to get mentored at Hyder?

Ryan: Hyder’s never been a place where you can just come to work and do, I don’t want say the bare minimum, but do enough to where your job is taken care of and all those boxes are checked for the day and then go home. The people who are successful here are those that look at it as a growing experience and, “Where can I go next from here within the company, and how can I continue to add additional value to projects?” But then, in so doing, you’re adding value to yourself because you’re expanding your knowledge base and what you’re able to do.

So, I’d say that you have to be willing to come to work and do more than what your job description is. If you do only what’s on your job description, you’re going to stay where you’re at. If you do more than what’s on your job description and you push the boundaries a little bit, you’re going to quickly find that you’re being given more responsibility, more trust, bigger tasks, and at least in my case, you’ll be happier as a result of it.