Q: What is your job title and what are your typical responsibilities?
A: My job title is Vice President-Finance / Chief Financial Officer. I’m responsible for the financial oversight of the company, including risk management, human resources, and IT.
Q: What are some of the common challenges you face in your job?
A: My role is challenging from a number of different perspectives. Ensuring that we’re not being asked to take on more risk than we should, ensuring that we’re covered on every contract we sign, making sure we’re protected from risks in the IT realm, ensuring that our financial statements are of good quality and accurately represent the company, forecasting where we’re going to be in the future — those are some of the bigger, meatier issues I encounter.
Q: What were you up to in your career before joining Sargent?
A: I’m a CPA and before joining Sargent I was a partner at a local accounting firm. I’m also a CCIFP, which is a Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional. I was the outside CPA for Sargent, starting back in 1993 when Herb had just started Sargent & Sargent. As the company grew and eventually acquired HE Sargent, my own knowledge of the industry grew as well. George Thomas, the former CFO of Sargent, was a mentor to me. Construction became my niche in public accounting, so working directly for a construction firm was a logical step for my career. Herb asked me to lunch in September 2017 and asked me to join the company – an opportunity I was excited to accept because I already had a love for the company.
Q: What do you enjoy about your job?
A: I enjoy the challenge of doing things more efficiently and staying ahead of schedule. I enjoy investing in our people and tackling challenges that we know are going to benefit our employee-owners, especially in the field. I don’t personally know how to go out and grade a jobsite, but I do know how to position our company for the benefit of our employee-owners – the people who make it happen every day – and that’s always enjoyable for me.
Q: What sets Sargent apart from other construction companies?
A: Definitely our creativity and our ability to take on large projects. We’re skilled at marshaling resources and putting together the right crews and equipment for any job. Our people have a “CAN DO” attitude. We also have the ability to tackle a wider variety of projects than many companies — everything from airports to pipe jobs to wind farm site work to landfills to highways.
We can handle really big projects that other contractors don’t have the resources or financial strength to handle. We have thousands of years of experience throughout our ranks, and it shows.
Q: Do you have any ideas for how the construction industry could better attract young talent?
A: One thing that’s helped us attract the younger generation is that we have an individual whose job is workforce advancement [Kevin Gordon]. He will work one-on-one with our newer employees to teach them how to do everything from the basics of construction to technical aspects of improving execution, how to ask the right questions, and how to uphold our safety standards.
Kevin brings the individuals in during the winter to work on hard skill and soft skill training. We will teach our people everything from what they need to know on jobsites to life skills, such as how to build their 401(k) and the importance of investing their money over time. Having Kevin helping our new hires learn those skills has been a big advantage for us.
Still, what this industry really needs, in my opinion, is making known the “cool factor” that appeals to your typical young person who maybe has the mindset that construction is nothing but hard, dirty work. They might not realize the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment you get from finishing a project or understand the value of creating infrastructure that will last for decades. We, as an industry, need to showcase the equipment and technology more than we do as well. If we can show younger people how fulfilling and fun it is to work in construction, that would definitely help.
Q: Is there anyone in your life that you model yourself after?
A: I’m a Christian, so my faith defines me and I hope to model my life after Jesus. I try to follow the principles that are laid out in the Bible. Also, I was raised by a single mom who worked hard to provide for my brother and me. She demonstrated an amazing work ethic and she was friendly to everyone – I hope to be the same.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: My husband Bill and I have two kids in their twenties, so we spend as much time together as a family as we can. We have a Jeep that I love to tool around Maine in the summertime. We also enjoy getting to our hunting camp in Bowerbank. We just enjoy living in Maine.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: Yes – I am the Treasurer of Arise Addiction Recovery in Machias, Maine. Arise is a faith-based, residential addiction recovery program for men struggling with life-controlling addictions. The program has graduated over 50 men since started in 2016. It’s especially fulfilling to play a small role in helping men be freed from the chains of addiction. I am always willing to help connect those who are struggling, or who have family & friends who are struggling, to the resources to provide help.