The benefits of being a mentor are well known. You can position your company, industry, etc. for a better tomorrow as you pass down your knowledge and information to future leaders. I hope that mentors don’t ever feel like it’s a thankless job helping the next generation. Sure, there might not be immediate payback, but being a mentor can be extremely rewarding when the mentor sees the protégé blossom into an industry leader.
I have been extremely blessed when it comes to mentors assisting with my professional development. After the Navy, I enrolled and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a dual degree in Journalism and History – not your typical degrees for the construction industry. However, some people saw something and cultivated me to succeed in this industry. There are too many to name, but today I’d like to focus on one individual – Dwight Kuhn.
Dwight saw something in me and always took the extra time to thoroughly explain construction topics to me. We were part of an industry group comprised of experienced leaders that met in the evenings to discuss construction best practices; I was the lone individual who was not an “experienced industry leader,” but I kept good notes and ran good meetings so I was involved. The next day, after our meetings, my head was spinning when I tried to comprehend all the topics we discussed the night before. More often than naught I found myself calling Dwight for an explanation. He always had time for those phone calls.
But the special thing about Dwight was, it wasn’t just me that he spent time with. He really cared about the next generation and getting them engaged. As I mentioned earlier we had a group of current industry leaders that focused on best practices, but to be honest – this book of recommendations was dated and archaic. A few members of this group decided that we needed a complete overhaul. But it was Dwight who made the breakthrough suggestion that we needed: let’s involve the industry’s future in this activity.
From Dwight’s idea we invited young, up-and-coming industry leaders to the table to serve on small task forces that included a few principles from architectural firms and executives from construction companies. I think the small group suggestion made it less intimidating and everyone was engaged. Sure we updated a few best practice recommendations, but more importantly his suggestion may have expedited the development of current leaders from Pittsburgh’s design and construction industry, people like; Sean Sheffler, Associate at LGA Partners; Anastasia (Herk) Dubnicay, Executive Director of ACE Mentor Program of Western PA; Gino Torriero, CEO of Nello Construction; Jen Landau, Project Manager at Landau Building Company; Kristin Merck, a promising architect who opted to launch a successful photography business; to name a few. Plus, that little scribe who used to hound Dwight for help the morning after meetings is now Executive Director of the Keystone Contractors Association.
Please note, that exercise that grouped young and experienced leaders happened around ten years ago so I’m pretty sure my memory is leaving people off that are really successful today. Sorry. But the one thing I am sure about is that Dwight touched many people in a positive way during his career. We can all show him thanks by participating in the Dwight Kuhn Replenishment Blood Drive, which is this Thursday, November 2, 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Master Builders’ Association. Even if Dwight did not touch you during your career, you can show your support of the mentorship process by giving blood. For more information on this blood drive or on Dwight, please contact Michael Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The reason for this blood drive is that during an annual routine physical in April of 2017, Dwight was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). AML is a blood and bone marrow cancer that can quickly spread to other parts of the body. To date, Dwight has undergone three treatments of intense chemotherapy and has needed 40 units of blood and 40 units of platelets. His AML is currently in remission, but he has myelodysplastic syndromes, a precursor to AML. He continues to need blood transfusions every two weeks to keep his strength. If you would like to help, visit www.centralbloodbank.org then click “Make an appointment” and search with group code: Z0021025.