While celebrating our 75 years of service, a common thread has come to light. SS&A is a company full of team members who truly enjoy teaching and mentoring. Several of SS&A’s departments have formal and informal mentorship programs for their teams. Each one has developed their own approach to mentorship. Whether it is weekly huddles, monthly round tables, quarterly workshops, or unplanned one-on-one’s, SS&A values mentorship. In addition to the internal mentorship, SS&A team members also take their passion for teaching to external mentorship programs.
The SS&A Mechanical Department has weekly huddles where they discuss current topics and work through them as a team. Director of Mechanical Engineering, Chris Eversole, makes it a point to continue learning and passes that knowledge onto his team. He believes that everyone, no matter position or experience, can be a mentor for someone else. He actively tries to foster a culture of mentorship and bring out the best in each team member.
The SS&A Architecture Department has a peer mentorship group that meets once a month called PATH. The PATH group was started by Architect Travis Krimmel two years ago. “As I became licensed, I realized that I had a lot of help from a lot of people. I wanted to pay that forward, and I also wanted to continue learning from those around me. That idea led to PATH. Every month we have either a class taught by one of the team or another department, a roundtable discussion, or a specific discussion or exercise. The purpose of the group is to support each other on our journeys and in our careers.”
Paul Phillips, the Director of Medical Planning, has mentorship built into his leadership style. “Others invested in me throughout my career and have shared experiences, lessons learned, feedback on my handling of situations and things to think about…it is my belief their mentorship molded me into the leader I am today. The desire in helping others succeed is part of my fabric.” Paul’s multi-pronged approach to mentorship is as follows: He invests in people, taking the time to get to know and understand them. He is proactive, though it can be hard it pays huge dividends downstream. He provides honest feedback, allowing team members to adjust early on. He encourages others to dream and helps guide their path. He listens, and by being the sounding board he helps team members “talk through” things. And he shares his experiences, allowing others to learn from his failures.
SS&A Employees have benefited immensely from the culture of mentorship that is cultivated here at SS&A. Here are some of their experiences.
Katelyn Walker, Medical Planner: “SS&A has made a tremendous impact in the growth of my career and technical skills. Throughout the last 6 years, I have been given opportunities to expand my knowledge of project management and team collaboration in more ways than I could have ever anticipated. SS&A’s unique perk is the many, many disciplines we have under one roof. I have been able to learn from those within my discipline as well as those we coordinate with on a day-to-day basis. This has allowed me to view outside perspectives and take various aspects of how others approach our project work. This unique dynamic allows me to better serve our project teams and clients. I have been shown support from SS&A that is unprecedented and speaks volumes to the character of our company. Setting a goal within this company is not a lost effort, rather it ignites our leaders to help us achieve success.”
Justin Davis, Architectural Intern: “I have benefitted greatly from the mentorship opportunities within the company, not just from the architectural team but from the various disciplines within the company. It has allowed me to think more logically and practically when designing a building. How to incorporate HVAC systems and structure into a design are things that I did not fully grasp in my earlier years of college. Detailing various elements of walls, doors, windows, and roofs helped me to understand the limitations of certain materials and how they work when fully assembled. Learning about UFCs and other codes and regulations have helped me as well. I’ve also learned about professional documentation, libel, and procedures that helped to better prepare me in my understanding of college courses. And through programs like PATH I was able to gain a better understanding of the continued route of education I will need to pursue after graduating college in my aim to obtain my license in architecture.”
SS&A loves mentoring so much they even look for opportunities outside of the company to flex their mentorship muscles. For example, Brian Sickles, Construction Specifier and BIM Manager, serves on the Knoxville chapter CSI’s Board of Directors and as the liaison to the University of Tennessee CSI Student Chapter. They work with students to fill in the gaps between academics and practice. The students identify what they feel are blind spots in their education and work to identify local chapter members who can present on that topic and field questions. CSI UTK meets 3-4 times per semester with presenters from the CSI Knoxville chapter.
The Director of Architecture Architectural Department Head and Company VP, Shavon Charlot, finds several opportunities to mentor inside and out of SS&A. She has taught at local universities, lead quarterly workshops within the company, and has been part of a program called MirrorMe™️, an Americas’ Hidden Gem™️ initiative. MirrorMe™️ is a mentoring program that is geared towards emerging professionals and industry veterans. Data suggests that the lack of mentorship between Black emerging professionals and Black licensed professionals has been a pivotal issue as to why they are not transitioning into becoming the registered architects they’ve been striving and studying to become. The phase between academia and the workforce is the most tedious and transformative time for the emerging professional. It’s a time where guidance and direction are needed to get to the next level. Through MirrorMe™️, mentors like Shavon aim to bridge the gap, provide support, and increase representation. Shavon was recently part of the first cohort for the MirrorMe™️ program.
As SS&A strives toward excellence, we find it is most important to give back. By mentoring others and teaching from our lessons learned the hard way, we know that we are not only creating a better now but also a better future. We pride ourselves on making complex buildings simple, and we enjoy teaching that knowledge to others so that we may all progress together.