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Construction management combines two of the most important industries in Philadelphia – building and business. According to Pennsylvania and U.S. government statistics, Construction Managers are one of the most in-demand and fastest-growing careers.

Construction managers oversee the overall construction project. They act as an interface between the owners or architects and the construction workers. They take responsibility for the day-to-day work and report back on progress, costs, and issues. So if you’re a problem-solver able to prioritize and delegate tasks while effectively communicating with your team – you may have what it takes!

Our Construction Management Certificate (CMC) is an intensive 9-month program designed for existing and aspiring independent contractors who want to succeed in this $1 trillion industry. You get the tools you need to meet tighter project delivery times while learning to navigate the complex environment of regulatory and economic challenges. Temple University Small Business Development Center (TU SBDC) teaches you the specialized project management techniques you need to manage the planning, design, and construction of a project, from beginning (pre-design) to end (closeout). After completing the program you’ll be able to control a project’s time, cost, safety record, and quality – for all types of projects.

If you’re ready to learn more about the CMC, please join us on Saturday July 28th at 10am for coffee and conversation with our expert instructors.

You can register here for this free information session.

An added bonus – just for fun!

Here are the Eight Traits of a Great Construction Manager:

Although construction projects are always a team effort, construction managers take the lead. As such, the difference between weak and strong leadership can play a huge role in the final results of a whole group’s efforts.

1. Enthusiasm

Sometimes, people are so hard at work that they forget the purpose of what they’re doing; they begin to see the individual steps as the whole job, rather than considering what the finished product will be.

An awareness of what a construction project is ultimately meant to be—the why this thing is being built? factor—is key to what makes a great manager. Their enthusiasm to see the project through to its ultimate purpose will motivate the entire team to respect the significance of what they do, and work harder to do it the best they can.

2. Organization/Priorities

Construction projects almost always go through changes, whether it’s shifting deadlines, a bump (up or down) in budget, or a change in the availability of resources.

That means, as a construction manager, you will absolutely need to write and rewrite the plan, likely several times over. Being able to prioritize what needs to be done soonest, and always staying on top of what you have at your disposal (in terms of minutes, money, and materials) are pivotal to success.

3. Knowing Your Workers’ Skills

As a construction manager, you’ll be looking after a (fairly sizable) team. You should be aware of who excels at what, and give the right job to the right person.

Everyone in your team will have skills and experience, and of course the hope is that they’ll be able to adapt these skills to various problems, but that doesn’t negate the fact that individual workers will shine brightest in certain areas, and therefore be best utilized in certain tasks.

4. Team Player

Construction managers are responsible for bringing everyone together and keeping morale high. Directly related to these characteristics, a construction manager should be friendly and approachable.

Why?

Because when workers are happy with their management, it fosters better work habits, and it also opens communication for feedback, which lets the manager improve even further (and make sure everybody is on the same page)!

5. Communication Skills

Communication skills are central to good management of any kind. There’s simply not much as important as a construction manager’s ability to delegate tasks; furthermore, good communication might mean being able to look at the total scope of the construction project, and break it down realistically into small, doable tasks given to each member of your team.

On a simpler level, making sure no detail gets ignored or forgotten about and that everybody has gotten the memos that apply to them are essential parts of managing a team.

6. Optimism

Being down is no good. When you’re leading a team, you need to be optimistic and confident that the project will be successful, believe that every one’s role is important and every worker is valuable, and that level-headed problem-solving will always get you through the day (more on this in #8). 

7. Calmness under Pressure

Related to #6, calmness under pressure means understanding that a construction project will force you to face particular challenges, and there is always a way to figure out a solution if cool heads are put together and everybody stays on course. Panicking simply doesn’t do any good for anyone.

8. Problem Solving

Problem solving of every kind—whether technical, monetary, or social (i.e. addressing complaints about a particular project)—is a must in the world of construction management.

You don’t know ahead of time what obstacles a construction project will face, and as such, you need to think quickly, pragmatically, realistically, and diplomatically, sometimes figuring out solutions within a month, and other times within an hour.

Ready for more? Register for the July 28th information session here

 

Ram Mudambi

Innovation in the United States is not lacking. It’s just that patents are being registered in less-likely locales, according to researchers from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

The findings are part of an ongoing research initiative spearheaded by Dr. Ram Mudambi, the Frank M. Speakman Professor of Strategic Management.

The umbrella project is dubbed iBEGIN, or International Business, Economic Geography and Innovation. A segment of the project explores innovation hubs in the United States, undertaking detailed analyses of more than 900 metropolitan areas in the U.S. In one of the first published outcomes of this research effort, Mudambi and his team examined the evolution of Detroit, a mainstay of the global automotive industry for over a century. While Detroit, a downtrodden city, continues to experience manufacturing decline, it is doing well as an innovation center, he said.

“The beauty of innovation is that it never stops,” Mudambi said. “In 1960, the U.S. was the richest country in the world, and Detroit was its richest city. And while the city has been in a continuous state of decline, we found that Detroit’s innovation numbers are very healthy.”

iBEGIN researchers define innovation through patent output, and they say Detroit’s patent output since 1975 has grown at a rate of almost twice the U.S. average. Detroit’s innovative resilience, Mudambi said, is due to its continuing centrality in global innovation networks in the automotive industry. It has maintained this centrality through connectedness to other worldwide centers of excellence in this industry, such as Germany and Japan. Its innovative links to Germany have been rising steadily over the last three decades, while its association with Japan began more recently, but also shows a steep upward trajectory.

Their research also unearthed a clearer picture of the shifting lines of American innovation. Today, Mudambi said, the Sun Belt features the country’s leading innovation hubs like San Francisco; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Austin, Texas. Though the more traditional centers of innovation excellence in the Rust Belt cities have generally maintained healthy rates of innovation output, they have seen their shares of national innovative output decline. These include cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Chicago.

“In the 19th century and for most of the 20th century, the innovation hotspots were co-located with centers of manufacturing mass production,” Mudambi said. “These were concentrated in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest. That’s not the case anymore. We’re seeing the lion’s share of patents being registered in regions dominated by high-knowledge industries. These industries create mainly white-collar positions for people with a bachelor’s degree, at minimum.

“However, what Detroit’s innovative success says about economies everywhere is that the roots of innovation are very deep. Policymakers spend a lot of time worrying about manufacturing. But manufacturing can be very ephemeral and firms often relocate manufacturing plants with very little notice. Innovation is more deeply rooted and, once an innovation center roots itself in an area, it’s much more likely to stick.”

Mudambi said the ongoing iBEGIN research initiative is a collaborative effort, with professionals in centers around the world, including: Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, Italy’s Politecnico di Milano and University of Venice Ca Foscari, the Indian School of Business, and many others.

In addition to studying innovation in American cities, iBEGIN has ongoing research exploring other contexts. These include country contexts like China, India, Brazil, Portugal, Greece and Korea as well as specialized industry contexts like automobiles, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals.

Having survived asbestos, the insurance industry understands the importance of integrating environmental, social and governance factors into insurance policy. The industry is working to identify the environmental, social and governance (factors or issues) that are core to insurance processes and is developing a strategy that includes education, training, tools and information to employees to develop the appropriate skill sets for the industry.

This spring, students in the Fox School’s Enterprise Management Consulting (EMC) Practice traveled to Rome to observe and participate in the planned expansion of an Oxfam America and United Nations World Food Programme initiative that seeks to relieve poverty and enhance food security through risk reduction.

The Fox School’s EMC program provides MBA students with a professional consulting project for a paying client under the guidance of academic instruction and an executive mentor. This year, five EMC students advised Oxfam America (OA) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on the expansion of their R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, which aims to address rural resilience against climate-related risks. The R4 Initiative seeks to provide risk-reduction tools to the world’s most vulnerable populations – those who depend on agriculture and live on less than $1 per day.

The EMC students studied OA’s pilot program, launched in Ethiopia, and the R4 Initiative’s expansion into Senegal and two additional developing countries. The team developed a five-year strategic business plan for the partners, OA and WFP, to implement and share with potential funders, as well as several other deliverables, including a research presentation, research report and R4 budget workbook.

“A large part of this was research, getting to understand micro insurance, Senegal, Africa and poverty,” said Natalie Barndt, the independent consultant who served as the EMC project manager. “There was a huge learning curve because this is not a traditional business case.”

The students presented key research findings on Senegal and the vulnerability of the country’s rural poor, and they proposed solutions and preliminary implementation considerations. Their research delved into issues including environmental factors on levels of food insecurity, poverty reduction efforts in place and current approaches for micro risk management.

After the research phases, the team put together a compelling, 388-page R4 Initiative strategic and operation plan, which provides a technical and strategic foundation for the R4 five-year plan and which will aid in the funding of the R4 Initiative. In addition, the EMC team developed a comprehensive R4 Budget Workbook.

After the team produced this extensive research and strategic plan, the partners invited Barndt and two EMC students to Rome to participate in a gathering of world leaders working to develop a detailed R4 Initiative business plan.

For the students, Barndt said, the consulting engagement, R4 strategic plan development and international exposure is invaluable.

“They get real-life experience at a very complex project with a very, very sophisticated client,” she said. “They really learn to develop the consulting story. They learn about the program, and they learn to format it in a way that tells a story that is compelling and has data and facts to back it up.”

The risk and insurance industry fills a unique role in the world’s economy as a private market mechanism for the sharing of risk, with the global pooling of what would be risks otherwise borne solely by the individual and/or entity estimated at US $100 trillion.   As this risk pooling is instrumental for creating the resilience that underpins the efficient functioning of economies and societies, the insurance industry is clearly a legitimate object of public policy.  As the risk pooling afforded is only possible with investors’ willingness to put capital at risk, value creation is a necessary condition for its continued existence.

The convergence of public and private interests in the industry are nowhere more keenly apparent than in the risks and opportunities presented by “sustainability,” the issues and factors illustrated with a “Taxonomy of Sustainability” developed at the Fox School of Business.  An EMC faculty member and MBA team conducted a global survey of sustainability and the insurance industry on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (“UNEP FI”).  This survey had two lines of inquiry.

First, what is current “state of play” as respects the integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) factors in insurance underwriting?  Secondly, what is needed for the development of a more purposeful dialogue on the role of the insurance industry in response to ESG factors?  From the survey results, five broad themes emerged, each of which is discussed in depth in the publication that resulted from the survey: The Global State of Sustainable Insurance.

Dialoguing on Sustainability & Risk

  1. ESG factors influence underwriting.
  2. Proper management of ESG factors potentially enhances insurance industry earnings via avoided loss and new product offerings.  This in turn could afford greater protection for the insureds’ they serve.
  3. Given their assessment of ESG risks, insurance underwriters judge societal response for many ESG factors as under-developed.
  4. There are significant differences in the assessment of ESG factors dependent on whether an underwriter is operating in the “developed” or “developing” world.
  5. Promotion of ESG risk management and financing requires:
  • Working with a fragmented insurance industry structure to achieve integration
  • Enhanced forums for dialogue between stakeholders
  • Distinct, and sometimes new, skill sets
  • A recognition and respect for interests divergence

Understanding sustainability allows insurance companies to better understand the risks they are assuming, and in so doing, make more money – all while doing the “right” thing as well.

James W. Hutchin
Willis Research Network 

ESG Factors at work