BUILDING THE WORKFORCE OF TOMORROW
An Interview with Oko Buckle, Burns & McDonnell Vice President and Atlanta Office Manager
Q: What recruiting or retention issues are you seeing right now in the region, if any? How do you manage?
A: Earlier this year, Atlanta was recognized as one of the best metro areas for STEM professionals in a report by WalletHub. However, we are still seeing a great need for diverse talent in the industry.
One way we can make great strides is through investing in early STEM education. We offer numerous programs to welcome students and educators to our campus to see STEM in action. With opportunities like internships and job shadowing, we help eager students explore the possibilities. We want students to know from an early age the Burns & McDonnell is invested in their success as students and as future STEM professionals. We also provide resources and tools to parents and teachers to help them encourage the next generation.
Q: Burns & McDonnell was named one of the top companies to work for by Fortune Magazine. How do you keep employees engaged in the workplace and continue to make the list?
A: We have maintained a low turnover rate, well below the national average, by helping our employees personally develop and grow their roles within the company, while empowering them to pursue innovation. Our culture values collective success and we have a strong entrepreneurial atmosphere, where everyone has an equal chance to make an impact.
Throughout the year, we host a variety of events to celebrate achieving goals, milestones, relieve stress, build stronger camaraderie and have fun. We also encourage employee-owners to participate in professional organizations and take advantage of education and training opportunities offered internally and externally.
Q: Burns & McDonnell is a full-service engineering, architecture, consulting, environmental and construction firm. How do you manage so many different areas of business effectively?
A: Our diverse workforce allows us to provide full-service, design-build solutions to our clients. Because we have architects, engineers, construction professionals, scientists, marketing professionals and more under one roof, the clients reap the benefits of a quicker and more seamless experience, from beginning to end. It also is a model that helps grow our success. By providing so many different types of services in a variety of industries, we are better able to weather challenging markets.
Q: How do you develop diverse talent at your firm and retain them?
A: Our employee ownership model creates an unmatched entrepreneurial spirit that fosters innovation within each department, and it is common for employee-owners to evolve their roles and even change careers — without even leaving the company.
We have a mentor program in place that helps new employees navigate our firm. As soon as candidates are hired, they are paired with mentors to help integrate them into our culture and company. Employees, especially recent graduates, want the company they work for to make an investment in their personal development. They want their managers and co-workers to help them improve personally in their roles (i.e. spend time mentoring them, allowing them to attend conferences/workshops, coach them on areas of improvement, attend trainings and eventually train others). By making an investment in them as individuals, it makes them more committed to their work and, in turn, the company.