Robins & Morton craft mentorship program advances 11 into management roles

For the 2021-2022 class of the Rocky McMichen Field Leadership Program, their graduation was more than a celebration – it was a turning point in their lives and careers.

The Rocky McMichen Field Leadership Program an intensive, 15-month program for craft professionals who wish to move into management roles. It involves one-on-one mentorships, hands-on experience and a classroom curriculum covering 16 established topics from surveying to business writing and communicating.

At the Nov. 10 graduation, each of the 11 graduates received an offer letter to take on a new role in field management, with the opportunity to continue advancing in the company as leaders.

“I look forward to growing with the company and taking on on new challenges,” said graduate and general foreman Jaime “Skinny” Manriquez. “I started as a drywall hanger then got into carpentry. I’ve come a really long way from where I started.”

The program’s namesake, retired Senior Vice President Rocky McMichen, started his career with Robins & Morton as a carpenter and it was his vision.

“The program is structured around Robins & Morton’s culture and the way we build,” said Vice President of Direct Delivery Services and Executive Sponsor Richard Anderson. “Core to the program is a curriculum covering 16 established topics, teaching everything from surveying to business writing and communicating. I haven’t heard of anyone in the industry who has a formalized program like this.”

After completing 15 months of intensive work, the trainees move into entry-level management positions. Participants are nominated by their managers from projects across the company, based on their demonstrated skills and leadership potential.

For many, it’s an opportunity they never expected to come their way. “It’s a blessing for me and my family,” said graduate and General Foreman Chris Castodio. “We get to go to a level that I didn’t think we’d ever get to. Where I come from, you work in the fields or a factory. Now that I graduated this program, the sky’s the limit.”

The Rocky McMichen Field Leadership is one of many ways Robins & Morton is filling the need for qualified construction managers and is also a recruitment tool for attracting craft workers. “It’s helped us gain more craft professionals and people just entering the field, to know that one day they can advance their careers within our organization,” said Vice President of People and Development Aimee Comer. “The program also has strengthened diversity and inclusion so that people from diverse backgrounds have a path to a management role.”

The program continues to grow, with 18 team members accepted into the 2023-2024 program.