Patterson & Dewar Engineers: A Career Conversation with Lori Weaver

What motivated you to join Patterson & Dewar Engineers?
When I came across Patterson & Dewar Engineers (P&D), I wanted to find a company where I could see myself working out the remainder of my career. Specifically, I was looking for a good company with a great culture. While considering different positions and researching different companies, I felt that the best fit for me was to join P&D as the employees seemed to be happy and felt valued by the company.

How does Patterson & Dewar Engineers convey to employees a sense of belonging?
Since P&D is an employee-owned company, I believe that our employees truly have a sense of belonging and ownership. We are all working towards a common goal of the company’s success because when the company does well, we, as employee owners, do well.

P&D also creates a sense of belonging by ensuring that new employees have mentors that can help them get acclimated to the company culture. We have a two-day immersive training that we call New Employee Bootcamp where new employees get to learn about our culture, history, and what it takes to be successful at our organization. We have received consistent feedback from new employees that these elements, along with our orientation process, have immediately made them feel welcome and excited to be part of the company.

Additionally, we are very intentional about ensuring ongoing company-wide communication to our employees in the form of newsletters, videos from the CEO, shareholders reports, department meetings, team meetings, and young professional group meetings. This has become especially important to build relationships and develop connections as we’ve continued to grow and expand throughout the country. Recently, we have also been encouraging employees to have team building activities outside of work in the form of dinners, community give-backs, etc. to further develop relationships and build a sense of belonging.

In what ways has Patterson & Dewar Engineers supported your professional development and growth?
P&D has implemented a formal employee development program called the Employee Journey where we encourage personal and professional growth from the time a new employee joins our company all the way through to retirement. Annual evaluations and quarterly goal setting meetings are held where we encourage our employees to explore new learning opportunities while working with their supervisor and our employee development team to develop and track professional development goals.

Upon joining our firm, all employees receive a core competency book that provides a comprehensive list of all soft skills and hard skills needed to be proficient in their current role. This allows employees to take charge of their own learning and development opportunities. Additionally, our mentoring programs are in place to support the development of new employees as well as employees moving into a new leadership role.

Our employee development team has created ample training opportunities for all employees, including hands-on, in person, eLearning, and lunch and learns. They have also implemented self-assessment opportunities such as 360-degree surveys, DISC training, and professional leadership groups. Most of our employees also benefit from external training opportunities such as seminars and conferences that are specific to their particular role within the company, as well as on-the-job training and cross training opportunities in the field.

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
P&D offers flexibility with work schedules to allow employees the freedom to take care of non-work obligations. We also allow work from home opportunities.

One unique thing that P&D offers is that all employees are fully compensated for all hours worked. This means that all employees will either earn overtime for hours worked over 40 hours per week or have the ability to put time over 40 hours into their vacation/leave bank. Workplace culture also encourages employees to use their leave time.

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do?
For me, since I work in HR, I enjoy interacting with our employees and having opportunities to assist them with whatever they need.

As a company, we support electric utilities and data centers across the country, meaning we support the infrastructure that brings electricity to homes and businesses. The type of work that we do ensures that people stay connected and supports the safety of our communities.

What makes you proud to represent Patterson & Dewar Engineers?
I’m proud that our company has been in business for over 75 years, providing important services that are vital to our community. We have delighted our clients so much that they continue to come back to us, and we have clients that have been doing business with us for decades.

We also make sure we take care of our employees, and conduct employee opinion surveys annually to assess their satisfaction with the direction of the company as well as their satisfaction with their employment. We want to ensure that our employees are happy with their work.

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for Patterson & Dewar Engineers?
P&D supports my learning and development as I’ve continued to learn and grow through my professional career. I receive training needed to further develop in my field, attend professional development conferences, and have had the opportunity to receive specific leadership training.

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student?
When I was a student, I wish I had understood the importance of communication in the workplace. Often, we have to work in teams to get projects completed. It is important to speak up and give your opinion because you are a part of the team for a reason. Also, it is important to remember that it’s okay to not know everything. Ask questions and be open to every learning opportunity.  

Finally, be accountable for your actions. Everyone makes mistakes, but how you handle your mistakes speaks to your character.

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities?
I would say be open and flexible. Sometimes the path you think is for you might turn out not to be. Pay attention to the culture of the organizations that you are interviewing with since that is just as important as the job position.  

As an HR Manager, I would also advise you to look at the total compensation being offered, not just the base salary. Some companies offer amazing insurance, bonus opportunities, profit sharing, etc. in addition to a yearly salary. Speaking of insurance, it is really important and you should learn how to evaluate your opportunities.

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