College Dropout To Operations Director

“Just keep swimming.” – Dory

Sean struggled in high school, he dropped out of college and had little guidance from the authority figures in his life. His high school dream was to be a professional baseball player. How on earth did he make it to the title of Director of Construction Operations at Colorado Asphalt Services Incorporated? It was a long journey, and he has had a plethora of jobs in construction, the navy, estimation, power plants, and all through the ranks of operations. 

His Past

In his senior year of high school, his counselor told him “Hey your grades aren’t good enough for a scholarship, and your parents probably won’t help you pay for it because you clearly aren’t too interested in going to college. Try going into a trade of some sort”. So he started working for his dad’s construction company and took a few classes at community college but eventually stopped showing up. 

The Change

One day he realized he needed some direction in life, so he joined the Navy. After some time in the Navy, he returned to the private sector, this time working at a power plant. He also returned to college—and since he actually did the assignments, he found it a lot easier than the first time around!  

At thirty-two he got his bachelor’s degree and slowly worked his ways up the operations ranks. Sean informed me that as an entry-level, you are focused on performing one section and becoming proficient at it. He kept working and at one point in his career, he was the manager of a two employee team, in this position he did everything from cleaning the toilets, setting up computers, on top of all the other day to day activities of operations managers. 

His Present/Future

Now, Sean is at a bigger company, he is a manager which is an extremely competitive/rare position to get to. Having this status means he tends to have more specialized and focused responsibilities. His daily work includes controlling costs, managing everyday operations, increasing profitability, and looking at situations through different lenses. He is always searching for a more economical, rewarding, profitable and safer way of accomplishing tasks. 

Sean loves how operations can help people develop and that people get rewarded through those actions, whether it be pay raises, promotions, etc. Mentioning that you can bring the same mindset into your company and customers’ lives and how their satisfaction can be extremely rewarding. An example being: Sean is figuring out how to evolve the company’s pen and paper timesheets that each floor man has to fill out and bring into the office every day. He wants to turn this time-consuming method into an effective system that brings more value to the company and employees. 

His Advice

Following your dreams is a cliché, if I would’ve followed my dreams I’d be a failed professional baseball player. With those dreams, you have to be the top one percent of the one percent to succeed. Instead, get a good job that allows you to live your dreams, I still play baseball and basketball. In college don’t do something obscure that only three people on the planet have a job in. Be open to change and learn everything that you can.

It was an honor to have this interview with Sean, I am extremely grateful that he was willing to take the time out of his day to have it.

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