A case study in strengthening supplier diversity through a successful mentor-protégé program
Healthcare construction is a niche industry that’s tough to break into as a small business, especially if that business is minority- or woman-owned. Recognizing this, Jackson Health System (Jackson) of Miami-Dade County, Florida, developed a program aimed at elevating certified Small Business Enterprise–Construction (SBE-C) firms and the skillsets of their employees.
By providing supervised management-level experience and training, Jackson was able to support the growth of local small businesses and positively impact the careers of team members assigned to Jackson projects. Serving as Jackson’s program management consultant on the US$1.8 billion Miracle-Building Bond Program, AECOM and subconsultant partner firm Creativision MEDIA, Inc. worked alongside Jackson executive leadership staff to help develop and administer their mentor-protégé development program.
Created in 2015 at the start of the Miracle-Building Bond Program, the mentor-protégé program was the first of its kind in that there were no previous large healthcare capital improvement initiatives with a formal mentor-protégé program. The program’s goal was to stimulate growth for the small firms by providing them with the skills to effectively take on healthcare construction projects, ultimately creating a positive long-term ripple effect throughout the Miami-Dade community and beyond.
Seven protégé firms participated in the mentor-protégé program, all of which were minority-owned, women-owned or minority women-owned. The program paired large construction management at-risk firms with these local small businesses. AECOM and Charesse Chester of Creativision MEDIA helped Jackson execute the curriculum development and learning process, which included establishing expectations for participants. Each of the protégé participants were required to demonstrate their knowledge in 28 categories encompassed within three primary learning concepts:
1) pre-construction phase healthcare construction industry planning;
2) construction phase healthcare construction including management and delivery functions performed on capital development projects;
3) related business processes and protocols.
Based on the leadership team’s experience with oversight of the mentor-protégé program, the most important characteristic in a successful mentor for a program like this is that they have the heart and mind of a teacher and are committed to their role as a trusted guide throughout the process. In addition, they must be dedicated to establishing a solid relationship with their protégé. In turn, protégés must demonstrate a willingness to learn.
To ensure protégé firms were achieving learning milestones, they were asked to grade themselves throughout the program to communicate what and how effectively they were learning. This gave their mentors and the leadership team an idea of where learning deficiencies existed, and how to bridge those learning gaps.
Positive community impacts
The Jackson Health System’s mentor-protégé program represented a unique opportunity to stimulate significant growth in local SBE-C firms, in turn creating a positive impact in the Miami-Dade County community. Out of an average of about 750 certified SBE-C firms in Miami-Dade County in recent years, typically two per year graduate out of that certification. However, two of the seven protégé firms in this mentor-protégé program achieved such growth by the completion of the Miracle-Building Bond Program, which directly speaks to the mentor-protégé program’s effectiveness and lasting impact on the community.
Protégé firms that successfully completed the program have subsequently teamed with mentor firms to win additional work outside of the Bond Program, or even on their own as prime contractors. This is not only a win for the protégé firms, but also for the mentor firms — they now have a larger pool of local businesses they can partner with in seeking future work. Jackson Health greatly benefitted as well, since the pool of skilled healthcare construction contractors in South Florida increased, creating an increased workforce supply chain for projects that occurred during the Bond Program, and other future Jackson Health System projects.
There were individual victories as well — one protégé employee was gradually assigned more responsibilities throughout their company’s involvement in the Bond Program, and he was ultimately promoted to assistant superintendent.
The Jackson Health System/AECOM partnership to deliver the Miracle-Building Bond Program — and create the successful mentor-protégé program — fulfilled AECOM’s and our client’s goals of creating meaningful and long-lasting positive impacts in the communities we serve, while also supporting opportunities for SBEs to grow.