Kim Schultz, Estimator, has been with C.W. Driver Companies for over four years and has been part of the Driver Launch program. The program allows employees new to the construction industry to gain exposure to all three key aspects of construction with hands-on training and experience through a career path rotation within Estimating, Field Management, and Project Management.

What inspired you to participate in the Driver Launch program here at C.W. Driver Companies?

I started with C.W. Driver as an Estimating intern, while I was finishing up my master’s program. While I have always been a numbers person, I was intrigued by the complex challenges that other facets of construction can offer. When my manager presented me with the opportunity to join Driver Launch, I knew I had to accept.

Getting the opportunity to work on the same project from the bid proposal to close out is invaluable. After the bid, and once construction starts, I rotate from an Estimator into a Project Engineer position to learn in the field. This experience has allowed me to expand my understanding of what goes on at every step of the project process. Even before I joined the Launch program, I felt that C.W. Driver did a great job at marrying the estimating and project management departments. The communication and integration of the two departments early in the construction process has grown tremendously in the last couple of years. Everything is a team effort and collaborative here at C.W. Driver.

What benefits has the program brought to your professional career?

Construction is not a simple industry. The project procedure from start to finish is complex and interesting. Learning from different industry experts at every step of the way has been vital to have so early on in my career. I am thankful that C.W. Driver has given me the opportunity to learn more outside of my current department. I am not put into a box by only focusing on one specialty. I can learn and grown within various markets. My experience in every part of the field has enhanced my estimating career.

A majority of your work has been in the education market. What interests you about working on education projects?

I feel strongly about making a difference and giving back to the community though my career in construction. Working within the education market gives a purpose to my work. I know the long nights and hard work I put into a project will benefit the next generation of students. C.W. Driver does a great deal in giving back to the community. The energy and passion that goes into every one of our education projects is unmatched. We truly build better communities and lives together.

Are there challenges or rewards on these types of projects that other markets don’t provide?

Education projects provide unique challenges that other sectors do not have. Schedules within this market are crucial and have little flexibility. School calendar dates, such as the first day of school and winter beaks, cannot change for construction. It is extremely important to plan accordingly for school functions to keep the students safe and the schedule on track. On the Irvine USD – Cadence Park School project that is currently under construction, a 10-month construction schedule was required for this new K-8 school. The last K-8 education project of this size by the district was completed within 18 months. We had to plan and incorporate a six-day work week into the pricing to make this a reality. C.W. Driver is proud to be completing this project on time this fall before the first day of school.

What advice would you give a recent graduate just coming into the Construction industry?

Learn as much as you can. There is no such thing as asking too many questions. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Failure is the only way you will grow in your career and as an individual. Even if you know you want to work in a particular area in the industry, still allow yourself to learn about every trade. I used to only understand plans in 2D working within estimating. Seeing a project get completed before your eyes gives you a new perspective. Plans do not tell the whole story. No matter where you end up going in your construction career, this diverse knowledge will only help you in the end.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

My biggest passion outside of the construction industry is staying active. When I was young, I danced competitively and had been on ESPN and in Disneyland parades! Now I enjoy kickboxing and boot camp style workout classes. I also enjoy anything outdoors like hiking and camping. Relaxing has never been a pass time of mine.

Closing thoughts?

Whether you are new to the industry or recently graduated, remember to always push yourself. The industry will keep moving forward and evolving. Utilize the knowledge of those around you. In the end, make sure you love who you work for, what you are doing, and make a difference in the world. I continue to learn so much from my career at C.W. Driver, and I cannot wait to see where this journey will continue to take me.