November 27, 2023 | Articles
Hill International’s program, project, and construction management teams work on transformative infrastructure and one-of-a-kind building projects for clients around the world. Supporting our management professionals are a variety of behind-the-scenes specialists, such as estimators, schedulers, and procurement managers, as well as back-office support staff, including business developers, accountants, and human resources personnel. All of these professionals are needed for Hill to deliver the infrastructure of change. One critical position at Hill in both the back office and the field office is the administrator. Hill’s administrative professionals support executives and regional leaders and provide a crucial day-to-day link between field teams and the back-office staff that support them.
Adrienne Couasnon is one of Hill’s outstanding administrative professionals. She works as an office administrator in Hill’s Columbus, OH, office, elevating Hill’s Midwest region with her administrative expertise and attention to detail. A look at Adrienne’s experience reveals the administrative opportunities available at Hill.
A Brief Background: Gaining Skills and Finding the Industry
Adrienne has more than 10 years of administrative experience. One of her first jobs was an administrative role at a metal stamping company, where Adrienne worked while taking classes at The Ohio State University. “I’ve always enjoyed administrative work due to the variety of tasks,” says Adrienne. “My first job as an administrator introduced the functions and importance of administrative roles.”
Adrienne honed her experience at TACInsight, a small software company in Knoxville, TN. A few months later, Adrienne had the opportunity to work at Phillips & Jordan, a heavy civil construction company and one of TACInsight’s partners. At Philips & Jordan, Adrienne provided administrative support for IT and billing. She also made valuable connections and found a passion for the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. “Working there really spiked my interest in AEC,” she says. “I was captivated by the industry and its relevance in our daily lives. Being able to observe how innovative construction methods shape our community is very motivating. It’s an industry where I can push myself and continuously learn from its changes.”
Diverse Workdays: Adrienne’s Experience at Hill
As office administrator, Adrienne has a dynamic role that responds to the needs of Hill’s Midwestern region. She often works in the office, handling everyday activities such as correspondence, accommodating visitors, organizing meetings and appointments, taking notes and meeting minutes, coordinating with regional leaders and field teams, and whatever else the team needs. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though,” Adrienne adds.
As is characteristic for many administrative positions at Hill, Adriene’s work is very diverse. She prefers this and, in fact, requested it. “While I love supporting our staff with their basic administrative needs and helping maintain an operable office, I also want to challenge myself and become more involved in the projects,” she explains. “The project managers and executive staff allow and encourage me to support Hill in many different ways and grow as an employee.”
Because of the all-encompassing nature of her work, it can be hard to paint an accurate picture of Adrienne’s day-to-day experience at Hill. “Some days I am working with Office Manager Debbie Burns on billing procedures, coordinating office activities, promoting efficiency and compliance with company policy, managing travel arrangements, submitting reports, and maintaining/ordering supplies for all the offices in our Columbus region,” she says. “Other days, I might support (Vice President, Eastern Region Sales Manager) Mark Welling with some business development tasks and handle document control or billing tasks for our project managers in the field. I have been collaborating with the Marketing Department more frequently, helping plan events, social media posts, articles, or white pages. In my rare down time, I’ll do data management. It can be a lot, but it’s so stimulating. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Occasionally, Adrienne has had the opportunity to support projects meaningful to her personally. For example, she provided admin support to the Hill team that helped the Ohio Department of Natural Resources deliver the new Hocking Hills Lodge in Hocking Hills State Park. “Hocking Hills was my old stomping grounds,” Adrienne explains. “We used to camp, hike, and explore the area all the time. I can’t tell you how many miles I ran there during my high-school cross country and track years. Needless to say, I’m very familiar with this spot, and being able to get my boots dirty and observe the construction of the Hocking Hills Lodge gave me a sense of pride.”
Adrienne’s time at Hill has not been without challenges, however. A year after Adrienne joined the Hill team, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. COVID-19 lockdowns impacted the entire AEC industry, and, in many cases, additional burdens fell to administrators. In addition to helping leadership monitor the guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, administrators had to communicate the ever-changing recommendations and keep the office stocked with antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, masks, and gloves. Even after project sites reopened, many clients required remote management support. This increased the need for coordination support from admins. Adrienne and other administrators had to help coordinate between Hill’s field teams and regional leadership and learn to execute many of their more routine tasks without the benefit of face-to-face interaction.
Meanwhile, Adrienne was studying to complete her Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Franklin University in Columbus and singlehandedly raising her two young children. “A sense of balance helped,” Adrienne says. “I only took a few courses at a time to avoid compromising my responsibilities as an employee and a mother. Finishing school took longer, but I was able to really focus on the courses and do well enough to graduate magna cum laude. In addition, I had to keep my mind and personal life healthy—laughter and sitcoms helped me get through the pressure and overload. I’m also very fortunate to work with an exceptional team that understands my day-to-day demands.”
The Right Administrator for the Job
By all accounts, Adrienne is thriving in this fast-paced and demanding environment. She successfully graduated with her marketing degree in early 2023, and her work wins praise from all of her colleagues. According to First Vice President, Deputy Regional Manager Todd Cooper: “Adrienne is an invaluable member of our Midwestern organization. She shows up every day with a great attitude and approaches all of her work with dedication. We wouldn’t be able to help our Midwestern clients deliver projects to support the region’s growth without the help of exceptional administrators like Adrienne.”
While Adrienne has already grown a great deal at Hill, she hopes to continue learning, taking on new responsibilities, and enhancing and expanding her skills. Specifically, Adrienne wants to get even more involved on site and provide coordination support within Hill’s communications groups.
“It’s a really exciting time to be working in AEC and at Hill, especially in the Midwest,” concludes Adrienne. “There are so many transformative projects going on in our region, and they’re going to have a direct impact on our communities. While this can be intimidating, being a part of it makes me and the rest of the Hill team very proud.”
To learn more about being an administrator at Hill, please visit our careers page at: https://www.hillintl.com/careers/
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