A company doesn’t grow its business for nearly three decades without a solid base in leadership, but Patrick Christensen, president of Sturtevant-based Horizon Retail Construction, also knows that leadership needs to trickle down for a company to thrive.
“I can’t say enough about the value of mentorship and talent development in the growth of our company,” Christensen said. “We have vice presidents, project managers and assistant project managers who have been with us for 20+ years.”
Christensen is proud to be a part of the team that developed the processes and systems at Horizon. The best systems are created when individuals work together to come up with solutions. He says he has watched those processes grow and flourish because he’s been lucky to have “surrounded [himself] with smart people.”
The value of leadership
Christensen knows the value that training has in leadership. It is important for senior managers to work together to develop training programs that have leadership in mind. That has ended up paying dividends.
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“We have built an environment where our mentors can effectively train individuals while also allowing these new leaders to have autonomy,” he said.
In that environment, Christensen has watched employees succeed and advance to new roles as project managers become senior project managers. All of Horizon's vice presidents have been promoted internally. Being a self-starter and being passionate are essential traits that lead to success. Christensen is proud and grateful for the dedication of his vice presidents and senior managers.
Horizon also has a summer internship program that finds talent through colleges and universities. The internship program creates future leaders in the construction industry both within and outside the company.
The internship experience is all about gaining responsible, hands-on experience, said Christensen.
“Our goal is to give them full exposure to who we are and national experience as a general contractor touching on all parts of a construction project,” Christensen said. “Because we have shorter construction timeframes, we are able to provide this opportunity to our interns.”
Getting to know people’s career goals and having one-on-one interactions allows them to grow as leaders and helps them succeed at Horizon, Christensen believes.
“When it comes to the development of young leaders, a strong mentee-mentor relationship is so valuable,” Christensen said.
He also believes that growth can occur from the mail room on up – as evident in the anecdote about project managers advancing to other positions within the company.
“I always share everything possible about our business with an employee no matter what role they are in, especially if they are asking questions,” Christensen said. “You can identify talent in all kinds of places and different roles can provide different prospectives when learning about all aspects of your business.”
When asked which key lessons he tries to pass on to future leaders he answers: “When making any sort of business decision, you have to know why and ask questions. I'd also say, be passionate about what you do, be the same person you are in the office as you are out of the office, and have fun.”