Careers in Construction Month: Rick Hook still works on a campus – just in a different role

Rick with wife Deb, and children Harper (8) and Lincoln (4)

Kitchell Senior Project Manager Rick Hook grew up in Chicago and was exposed to the construction industry by working for a few trades throughout high school and college. Since he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his career, he majored in education. After getting his degree from Calvin College in Michigan, he worked for about eight years teaching subjects such as social studies, geography and history. When Rick’s wife, Deb, decided she was ready to start a family, she told Rick he needed a career with more moneymaking potential than teaching.

“We were both teachers, first in the UK and then in California, then in Seattle. And when you want to start a family – of which I was told in no uncertain terms we were going to do – I knew I had to do something else to pay the bills,” Rick said.

Rick attended night classes at the University of Washington, obtaining a certificate in Construction Management. In 2011, Rick’s brother, Kitchell Project Director Ryan, called to say there was an opportunity to work on a Banner Desert project in Arizona. Since coming on board that year as a Project Engineer, Rick has worked on a succession of award-winning Kitchell landmarks, including Chandler Regional Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and eventually the University of Arizona Health Sciences Innovation Building in Tucson. Put in a leadership role to manage that project, Rick realized how the skills he used in teaching transferred to a career in construction.

“When you’re a teacher, there are many different personalities,” he said. “How I talk to one student may not work for another, so I need to adjust. Working and talking in front of a group is second nature when you’re in the classroom. A lot of the soft skills – managing, mentoring, communicating – they all transition nicely.”

Now Rick is back on campus managing the University of Arizona’s Grand Challenges Research Building, with a Kitchell team of 12 and project workforce of about 175 people.

“I do love this job,” Rick said. “I love that it’s new, interesting and unique every single day. I love the challenging projects and feel completely blessed to have worked on them. They’re great and interesting, and it’s ever a dull moment. We have a great collection of people, super teams and coworkers who aren’t only that, but become part of your lives.”

Suffice to say, Rick was “hooked” on a career in construction. Who do you know who would be a good fit at Kitchell?

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