Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"How's the new job, John?"

I have started work, but I am really in a learning phase right now. So not much to report about work getting done.  I am reading a book called Why Buildings Stand Up just to learn some basics about structural engineering.   The next book on the list is Why Buildings Fall Down.   Funny, because I would have thought one book could cover both topics….   

I have been making a weekly visit to three project sites a couple hours away in the town of Jinja.   There we inspect the work getting accomplished by another CM (Construction Manager) on our team and his crews on those sites.   I am learning a lot about local methods and meeting the guys on site little by little.   I do kinda feel weird like I am the “big westerner” coming to inspect who never does any work (manual labor).   Kind of an awkward interaction, but I am hoping that will change soon especially once I am working more closely alongside them.   Yet I am not only learning about how to do things, but each week get a course in poor construction methods and what not to do also as we find mistakes and shortcuts.   Confronting such issues is interesting to watch happen between two different cultures.   It is another reminder of one of the many reasons why it is important to really get to know these guys and build a good relationship with them.

Started full time in the office last week but most of that is filled with getting oriented to processes and how things work in the office along with some meetings as well.   Good news is that they have a really easy project that needs done in April or May--and they would like to have me manage it.   Easy as it is, it will be my first opportunity to make a contribution through management.   It includes some finish carpentry which is within my experience, some masonry, but also finishing some grading and putting in a soccer pitch.   This is for a Christian boarding school that you may have heard of; they produce the African Children’s Choir tours around the US and Europe.   So in spite of the lack of technical aspects to this, I am excited about the ministry we’re working with and getting to manage my first project which includes a soccer field--kinda cool!

I am also finding that my HR background is already allowing me to make some good contributions both on the worksite projects, but also in the office as we discuss issues being encountered in both settings.   That has been fun to contribute a little when I otherwise feel like I am consuming more than I am giving for a while.  

I travel this Wednesday through Friday to the western Uganda border to inspect a theological training center that needs some remodel and a new building built.   I am looking forward to seeing firsthand the process for interviewing the ministry, and deciding on how to select projects to work on.  

What one guy and a hand planer can do
Then next week, we are traveling to eastern Uganda for for days to the site of a college that we will be breaking ground on this Spring.   We need to do some trouble shooting on the site prep and find some local resources in preparation to ramp up for this project.   So Janel will be home while I get a lay of the land, literally.   Feels good to be getting out so quickly on projects.

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