When he is not working, Whearley enjoys traveling, exercising, and hanging out with his family. “Being a firstgeneration college graduate, I value being the best role model I can possibly be for my family,” he says. He also prides himself on being a mentor in various scholarship/school programs. In addition to his work on the Cook County Hospital project, Whearley leads the project’s Pre-Apprentice program, which allows participants to shadow jobs in various trades, and gives them hands-on construction industry experience. B/ACE spoke with Whearley about how he got his start in construction, and how he is introducing a new generation to opportunities in the industry. B/ACE: Tell us about yourself and the Apprenticeship program Whearley: I am an Assistant Project Manager with Walsh Construction currently working on the renovation of the Old Cook County Hospital. My role on the project includes the management of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection systems, terrazzo and tile flooring. I am also the lead on the project’s PreApprentice program. The Pre-Apprentice program is a community-minded exposure program designed to assist individuals interested in the construction industry. The program’s main focus is exposing participants to the various construction trades at the job site level, to develop propitious knowledge of each
trade, and ultimately decide the career path that best suits them. B/ACE: How long have you been working with Walsh Construction? Whearley: It’s been 14 years this month. Dan Walsh always jokes that I was Walsh’s longest intern ever. I have worked with Walsh throughout high school, undergrad, and part of my graduate program. I was hired full-time while acquiring my master’s degree in 2014. B/ACE: How did you decide on a career in construction? Whearley: During my sophomore year of college, I was able to visit a variety of job sites with Walsh and get the full experience of building infrastructure. This piqued my interest in the industry, and ultimately lead to me switching my major to Construction Engineering Management. B/ACE: What advice were you given early in your career that sticks with you today? Whearley: I spent five years at Michigan State University because I changed my major. There was a point in time during my fourth year when I felt ashamed because of it. I remember attending the Walsh cookout with a few friends, and [the extra year] came up in a conversation with Dan Walsh. He said, “Always remember, college is like a marathon, not a race. It’s not about who finishes first, it’s about who finishes.” After that day, I embraced that extra year and called it my “victory lap.”
B/ACE: What advice would you give someone looking to do what you do? Whearley: Network, network, network. As cliché as it sounds, who you know goes a long way in the construction industry. When opportunities arise, be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as you can. Keep the connections you make and ask questions. Once you are in the industry, one of the key components to staying is having a positive attitude. The construction industry can be intense so having a positive attitude will go a long way to a successful career. B/ACE: What have you always wanted to try? Whearley: I have always wanted to try taking a year off from work to travel around the world. It’s possible but very difficult to do in this industry. B/ACE: What Is the weirdest thing you ever believed? Whearley: That I would one day win the lottery. B/ACE: What is the first thing you would buy if you won a million dollars? Whearley: First I would pay off my student loans, and with the $200 leftover, I would treat my family to a nice dinner. All jokes aside, the first thing I would buy is a new home for my parents. I feel like they have sacrificed so much for me throughout the years that they should be the first to benefit from me winning a million dollars.