Brianne Hastings, a project manager in CEC Pittsburgh’s environmental engineering and sciences practice, recently graduated from the Pennsylvania Aggregate and Concrete Association’s (PACA) Emerging Leaders Academy (PELA), where she gained valuable insight into industry operations around Pennsylvania as well as training to help enhance her leadership skills.
Over the course of 10 months, the rigorous program included topics such as management, effective communication, leadership excellence, organizational skills, and emotional intelligence, among other topics.
This was PELA’s inaugural class, consisting of 16 accepted applicants. The group split time between in-person and virtual learning, with the goal of growing their networks within the aggregate, concrete, asphalt, and cement industry within Pennsylvania. They also had the opportunity to view various operations throughout the commonwealth, meet with industry leaders to learn about their leadership journeys, and gain insight on government involvement within the industry while meeting with political leaders.
“My favorite parts of the program were traveling to the facilities and networking between classes,” Brianne said. “I was able to quickly connect with the other attendees and truly think of them as peers I can call and collaborate with. Relationships like that can take years to build, and I’m so grateful that PELA helped facilitate these connections.”
Participants completed a joint capstone project — as the inaugural class, the group referred to it as their “cornerstone” project — that could revolve around expanding education outreach about the industry in schools, improving diversity in the workplace, or any number of topics.
The group focused their project on developing the workforce for future generations. The project entailed building a Workforce Development Community with PACA that represents professionals who are committed to workforce growth and retention within the industry. The Community will also serve as liaisons, representing PACA members at outreach events by nurturing and maintaining relationships with educational organizations to develop the interest and skills needed for industry advancement.
At PACA’s annual meeting, the class presented data that showed more than 30% of the workforce could retire within five years, and 46% within 10 years. That data drove the group’s effort to develop the Community to ensure that PACA is aiming to find more employees, retain new and current employees, and transition the knowledge from experienced members before they retire.
“The goal for the Community is to support all PACA members across Pennsylvania and protect the industry for generations to come,” Brianne said. “Through collective advocacy to benefit PACA’s members, the Community will promote the industry’s strengths by assisting PACA’s Board and communities, and educating the industry on workforce trends and skill gaps.”
Through this experience, Brianne said she gained valuable tools to help her grow personally and professionally, as well as a fresh perspective on what it means to be a leader.
“There were diverse backgrounds within the class, and that allowed for us to discuss the challenges each of us faces,” Brianne said. “I’m very proud to have been part of the inaugural class, and I can’t wait to see how the program continues to develop for future classes to benefit from it.”
CEC is proud to be a sponsor of the PELA Class of 2022. For more information on PACA, click here.
About CEC Pittsburgh
CEC Pittsburgh has more than 300 professionals in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources. Additional client services include master planning, cultural resource management, and geographic information systems and data management. CEC Pittsburgh is No. 5 on the Pittsburgh Business Times‘ list of the “Largest Pittsburgh-area Engineering Firms” and No. 1 on the list of the “Largest Pittsburgh-area Environmental Firms.”