Essay on managers leads to Hawaii trip

Senior Branden Burke’s essay on leadership qualities earned him a free trip to Hawaii for the annual Associated General Contractors of America  (AGC) national convention. Burke and Professor James Jenkins, advisor to the Purdue student AGC group, will attend the convention in March. The contest also included a cash award for Burke and Jenkins. The topic for the 2012 James L. Allhands Student Essay Competition was “Critical Components of Being a Great Project Manager.” Burke’s 12-page essay focused on five important traits based on his experiences and the book “Good to Great,” which he had just finished reading for a class. The five traits he identified were ethics and professionalism, leadership, communication, organization, and building practical knowledge. “Even though I wrote this for a construction management essay, the information can apply to any industry,” Burke said. He said he was able to bring in lessons he has learned from his classes, discussions with his professors, study abroad experiences and internships. “The difficult thing was making sure it was relevant to my audience, which was the AGC Foundation,” Burke said. “I added an interesting part about the generational differences between current workers and the millennial generation, which will soon be the majority of the workforce.” A believer in the power of networking, Burke is looking forward to meeting leaders in the construction industry just two months before he graduates from Purdue. He includes his professors as part of his networking circle, including Jenkins and Brad Benhart, both of whom helped guide his work on the essay. AGC will publish the essay on its web site after the convention. It is available now on the College of Technology site (PDF). Burke is the second BCM student in as many years to win the contest. Andrew Talarek ’11 was the 2011 winner. His essay was titled “Initiating a Culture of Lean Construction Within the Firm.” Download Talarek's essay (PDF). (Photo by Sam Lawson)