2020 Class of Fellows Q&A with Lee Ann M. Slattery
The CSI College of Fellows has selected five new members to the 2020 class, including Lee Ann M. Slattery, CSI, CDT®, CCPR, LEED AP BD+C.
Lee Ann was nominated through a rigorous application process, then elected by the Jury of Fellows for membership. Fellowship is one of the top two honors given by the Institute.
Lee Ann will be inducted during the virtual Honors and Awards Ceremony taking place later this fall. Here, she shares what the honor means to her, and how she has contributed to—and benefited from—her membership in CSI.
What does being a member of the 2020 Class of Fellows honorees mean to you?
After being an active CSI member for the past 18 years, I am very honored and humbled to be selected as a Fellow. It’s very meaningful to me, to be recognized for all my efforts within this great association, which in turn has done so much for me in my AEC industry career.
Fellowship acknowledges contributions to the advancement of construction technology. Of all your contributions to CSI, which of them are most significant to you?
The most significant contribution I have made to CSI would have to be my five years of service as a member of the certification committee, and my advocacy of the CSI certifications. Whenever given the opportunity, I highly encourage anyone involved in the AEC industry, regardless of their role, to obtain the CDT. As well, I also endorse pursuing the CCPR for any product reps. I understand the CCPR is currently undergoing program research and exam review, and a revised exam will be available in the fall of 2021. I look forward to the return of the CCPR exam, and the product rep career knowledge that can be gained beyond the CDT fundamentals.
What was your first job in the construction industry?
My first job in this industry was as a receptionist for a wall panel manufacturer. We had just moved to the area, and needed to quickly find a job that provided health coverage for my family. Within a couple months, I was promoted to customer service manager, and over 14 years, moved up into the marketing manager and regional sales manager roles. So, I really just fell into this industry, without an AEC related background (although my father was a carpenter).
What has been your favorite aspect of making your career in this field?
I love the diverse roles that I have been able to hold over the past 28 years in this industry, and the variety of tasks with which I have been entrusted by my employers. I am fortunate that my employers see the value of industry association involvement, and how it can help their employees, as well as their business.
How has being a member of CSI informed your life and career?
Being a member of CSI has provided so much to me. In addition to gaining knowledge and guidance through a vast network of industry colleagues, it also provided me with leadership opportunities. I learned how to be a better team member when working as a group to achieve a goal, and I also learned to pass along my knowledge and guidance to others to advance their own careers in our industry. It’s gratifying when I see others who are newer to our industry embrace what CSI has to offer and witness them becoming involved and making positive changes to enable our association to grow and remain a leading AEC trusted resource.
Is there anyone you would like to recognize for supporting the work you do?
The first supporter of my involvement in CSI was Dan Brasch, who was the sales manager for United Panel (my first industry employer). There were no employees that were CSI members at the time that I asked if I could join the local chapter, and although he was not a member, he was aware of CSI and endorsed my membership and encouraged my involvement. My current employer, ATAS International, has been very supportive of my involvement with CSI, and of CSI in general. ATAS is a platinum level CSI corporate partner, and was the second company to become a corporate partner many years ago. I’d like to thank Jim Bush, vice president of sales and marketing, and Dick and Jim Bus, owners of ATAS, for their continued support, not only for me, but for all ATAS employees who wish to become involved with CSI. The support of all my CSI mentors and friends has meant so much to me…there are too many of you to mention, but you know who you are! I’d also like to thank Dave Rak, my life partner, who has been very supportive of the many evenings and weekends I’ve spent away from home at CSI meetings and events.
What advice would you give to newer CSI members just entering this industry, or that you wish a colleague had given you?
I would advise them to become involved in their local chapter. Even for product reps, who may travel quite a bit and cannot attend all the CSI events, they can easily help out with committees such as membership, hospitality, or programs, without physically being there. Just being a CSI member, without involvement, is like being two slices of bread. Alone, they aren’t that special, but add some roast beef, cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mayo, and together, they become awesome! You won’t reach “CSI awesomeness” until you add the other ingredients to be had by becoming involved. I would also advise them to get the CDT certification, at the very least, to obtain valuable construction process and documents knowledge.
What do you think the most significant changes, or opportunities, will be in the construction industry in the next 5 to 10 years?
Buildings are becoming more complex, and project delivery methods are becoming more diverse. We need to continue to incorporate technology and processes to advance the way buildings are designed and constructed. With the recent pandemic, that’s also going to have an impact on future buildings and how they will be used by their occupants. I believe modular construction is going to continue to grow.
It is concerning that many tradespeople are retiring and/or leaving the industry, and there aren’t enough new people to take their place. All of us need to be promoting the great careers to be had in our industry, and that can be done at the middle and high school levels, not only to the students (boys AND girls), but to their parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. By working together with other trade associations, great things can be accomplished to further the positive message of desirable construction careers, like the Greater Lehigh Valley’s Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls.
Any additional thoughts on how being a member of the CSI Community has helped weather the current pandemic and how you and your colleagues continue to support each other?
During the pandemic, it’s been great to have the continued support from other CSI members. Whether through discussions on CSI Connect, virtual meetings with chapters and the region, and even fun virtual events, such as a happy hour, trivia game, or scavenger hunt, we were able to stay connected. With the expansion of CSI’s learning library, we have more resources available to us to earn those continuing education credits that are needed by many for certification renewal. By engaging on CSI’s social media channels, we are also able to connect with the Institute and its members that way. Chapters need to find ways to stay in touch with their local members and provide valuable resources and support to them. This is a great time to invite members to join a committee, or invite them to a long range planning meeting (even held virtually), to ask them about ideas for programs and events, membership growth opportunities, and how the chapter can provide membership value.