Executive Leadership Team Holds Breakfast Briefing with Pitt Students

August 25, 2015

For one group of University of Pittsburgh graduate students, move-in week brought with it potential career opportunity, thanks to Michael Baker International.

Even as most students at the University of Pittsburgh were just beginning to move into their dorms for the start of fall semester, an estimated 60 motivated students from the Swanson School of Engineering and Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) ventured out on August 25th to seek career advice from – and possible career opportunities with – Michael Baker International.

Corporate Affairs, with support stemming from a long-standing relationship with Pitt, developed the student outreach program to provide an opportunity for members of the executive leadership team (ELT) to share their collective expertise and enthusiasm with Pitt students as part of the firm’s 75th anniversary 75 x 5K Service Campaign.

“Our breakfast briefing allowed members of the ELT to serve this important group in a meaningful way,’” says Beth Foley, chief communications officer and the ELT member who led the panel discussion. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their immediate willingness to support and contribute to this outreach opportunity and make it such a success.”

In addition to Foley, participating ELT members included: Kurt Bergman, Jeff Hill, Nicholas Gross, Brian Lutes, Jim McKnight, and Joe Bongiovi. Together, they shared information on:

  • the state of the engineering/professional services industry;
  • specific areas of growth or contraction;
  • the employment effects of mergers and acquisitions and other financial considerations;
  • the importance of project management skills; laws and legal influences;
  • global opportunities for engineers and others; and
  • the potential for Michael Baker to hire many new employees in the next year.

All contributed to the lively panel discussion, which lasted, not surprisingly, for 75 minutes, sandwiched in between breakfast and vigorous networking with ambitious career-seekers – many with resumes in hand and lots of questions.

“They nearly wore me out, and the program hadn’t even started yet,” Jeff Hill, COO of Michael Baker’s Engineering Division, joked at the time regarding the high-energy pre-program networking with students over coffee and bagels. “I really enjoyed it.”

A majority of the students came from Pitt Engineering, which, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2016 Guidebook, ranks 24th among public universities and is tied for 43rd overall. At least one-fourth of the students, though, came from GSPIA and attended specifically to learn about non-engineering career opportunities here and overseas with Michael Baker’s Global Services Division.

“Active engagement with the students in our industry creates incredible opportunities for us to understand the concerns, new ideas – and passions – of the next generation of our industry and what they have to offer,” says Kurt Bergman, president and CEO, of the student breakfast briefing. “Anytime we can engage and partner with universities such as Pitt – in our own backyard – creates energy, excitement in, and great exposure for, Michael Baker International. It’s a tremendous way for us to make a difference.”

Of course, as Michael Baker’s chief human resources officer, Joe Bongiovi drew a small crowd of job seekers at the end of the program seeking additional insights and exposure. Bongiovi couldn’t have been happier with the response.

“Our university relations program is a cornerstone of our talent strategy as a firm,” Bongiovi says. “Having the executive leadership team present our organization and opportunities to 60 outstanding graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh is a great example of Michael Baker International’s commitment to that strategy.”

So, can we expect such events into the future?

“It was a great event and an example of the kind of relationships we are building with our key universities,” Bongiovi adds. “We are excited about developing this initiative throughout the balance of the year and beyond.”