Training the Next Generation of Leaders: Q&A with Senior Project Manager Tim Sandberg
Sustainable success is one of the more difficult things to attain in the world of business. Success can be grabbed for a moment, but to hold onto that success, businesses must make conscience decisions that impact both the now and the future. One of those decisions is intentionally pouring into the next generation of leaders and preparing those people to step into new roles and responsibilities. We spoke with Tim Sandberg, senior project manager at Gray’s South Atlantic Office, about the joys of mentoring, being a part of the Gray family, and some of the best memories from his time at Gray.
Describe your normal workday–your “day in the life.”
“My “day in the life” changes drastically from day to day, and that is one of the things I enjoy the most. There’s no monotony in this industry or my role here with Gray. My goal is to relieve the stress from my teams and customers, by taking on whatever tasks seem most cumbersome, removing the obstacles, and allow them to focus on the main goals of the project. There are days where I am heavily design and process equipment focused, working on building layouts, process equipment general arrangements, process utility matrices, reviewing thermal details, etc. I meet with customers, our project management teams, design teams, and equipment manufacturers weekly to understand goals, streamline processes, and strategize solutions. But most important, I spend time mentoring and growing my team professionally and personally. The food & beverage industry is small, and there is not a large pool of experienced people to pull into an organization. If we are to grow, it must be through training and building the interest in the new team members. This is where I focus the majority of my time.”
What do you enjoy most about your work?
“I am constantly learning, adapting, solution finding, and growing. No two projects are the same. This is a consistently mentally challenging and thought-provoking industry. I can be working on a bakery one day, a meat processing plant the next, an AS/RS the next, and a bottling facility the next. It challenges you in ways beyond those normal to construction. We are on the cutting edge and have the ability to affect the lives and work environments for our customers, their workers, and ultimately, their customers, in extremely positive ways. I also enjoy that I can be reminded of the work I completed every time I go grocery shopping. I am proud to walk through the aisle of a grocery store and point at tubs of hummus, bags of sugar, packages of bacon, and jars of seasonings and say I had a part in putting that on the shelf.”
What do you like most about the South Atlantic Office and Gray?
“Without a doubt—the people. We are a young office, and there is an energy that goes along with that and a drive to make every project and person successful. Egos are checked at the door, and there is always someone willing to jump in and volunteer. No problem seems unsolvable when you have a team that does not accept impossibilities as an option.”
What has been the most memorable experience with Gray since you started?
“Ringing the bell for the first food & beverage customer I had a chance to work with is one of my most memorable experiences with Gray. My first day with Gray, I was handed a stack or preliminary drawings, told I had one hour to get caught up, and shuffled into a room to be introduced to the customer. I had never stepped foot into this type of facility, but luckily at that meeting, the customer gave us the direction to design and build something unlike anything out there in the industry. Secretly I was thinking ‘not a problem—I have no idea what the rest of the industry is doing.’
Over the next year, my team and I met with every vendor in that market sector. We spent many nights thinking through old problems to find new solutions, had weekend conversations with the customer about new ideas, and worked long sessions with our team to plan our build. Gray devoted every resource to make sure we had the right support and solutions.
A bell ringing typically signifies the start of a project, but this bell ringing signified a lot more to the customer and our team. All those years of dreaming and hard work were about to become a reality.”
If someone was visiting the Charlotte, NC, area, what would you recommend to them as a “must-do?”
“The whitewater center is extremely unique to the Charlotte area and worth the visit. Any time you can get outside with family & friends and enjoy a cold beverage, listen to some live music, and have a few good laughs, it’s a good day in my book.”
In one word or phrase, how would you describe Gray?
If you would like to learn more about joining the Gray family, please visit gray.com/careers.