Careers in Construction Month: Rob Previte preferred construction to carats, but his wife may have disagreed

When KCI Project Manager II Rob Previte attended ASU, he changed majors a few times and settled on housing & urban development, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in 2008. Like many who come out of college (especially during a recession), Rob wasn’t exactly sure where his degree would take him. He had worked in retail through college and continued down this road, first at Skechers, then at Kenneth Cole and finally at Capri Jewelers in Chandler Mall, where he was store manager for about four years.

“The transition from jewelry to construction was definitely harder for my wife, Emma, than for me,” he said.

Rob learned about a Kitchell project engineer position from longtime friends Mike Hancock and Aron Kirch (whose wife had gone to school with Emma). He figured he had the capabilities – organization, assisting with project schedule, document controls, meeting coordination – not to mention the people skills to convey nicely into a construction career. He interviewed with Scott Root, Brent Moszeter and others, and was offered a PE role in 2015.

His first project was the Banner Healthcare Corporate Office. From there he went to healthcare projects – a medical office building adjacent to the Banner University Medical Campus, then to multiple projects over the course of four years on the SJHMC campus, including the Barrow Neurological Institute Medical Office Building, and now he’s at the Valleywise Healthcare Medical Center.

“If you asked me when I was working on it, I would have said I hated it, but in retrospect, the Barrow project is probably the one I’m most proud of,” he said. “The functionality, what Barrow does for people with so many coming from out of state and out of the country to be treated – it was a complicated project, but very satisfying.”

In school, Rob was exposed to some aspects of construction when he was bouncing around between majors. But he feels his background in retail was most applicable to what he does today.

“There are a lot of abilities that transition nicely – people skills, communications skills and dealing with people with varying backgrounds – it’s all helped with what I do today. The ability to communicate effectively between design teams, owner’s reps and trade partners is extremely important. These skills translate from many different backgrounds, there is no reason to think you won’t be successful without a construction background.”

Rob Previte is a natural at the job. Who do you know who would be a good fit at Kitchell?

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?