Donny Tennyson is 31-year-old Senior Project Manager at JE Dunn Construction, a company founded by John Ernest Dunn (Ernie) in Kansas City, Missouri in 1924. What began as a small, family-run residential contractor would eventually grow into one of the top general building contractors in the country with approximate annual revenues of $2.7 billion and 20 office locations coast-to-coast. In 2015, JE Dunn Construction was ranked the tenth largest general building contractor in the United States. Today, JE Dunn Construction is a leading provider of construction management services, design-build, and integrated project delivery. Its time-honored tradition of delivering construction in a manner exceeding the expectation of clients holds true.

Five Questions with Donny Tennyson

Title aside, what would you say it is that you do in your current position?

I work within a specialized group of JE Dunn Construction that focuses on design-build medical/dental facilities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In my current role, I manage people, budgets, contracts, schedules, documentation, etc. for these projects, along with our office and site teams. Currently, my primary responsibility is to give oversight to our primary Project Manager(s) on each project and to work on enhancing the relationships with our government clients on each project.

How do you see your experience in Next Leader Now making you a better boss going forward?

My main takeaway from the Next Leader Now program, thus far, is being able to recognize the different characteristics that people possess based on the DiSC assessment. By learning about the components of this assessment, I find myself trying to identify where my colleagues, clients, etc. fit within the DiSC descriptors in order to enhance my ability to communicate in a way that will be understood and impactful.

Given that your organization is making this investment in you, would you say that you’re more likely to pursue career growth within the organization rather than looking elsewhere?

Absolutely. My company, JE Dunn, emphasizes training and development at all levels from day one. Giving me the opportunity to participate in Next Leader Now is just another example of that philosophy. Knowing that my company is making this investment has proved to be a huge motivator professionally.

What would you say is the secret sauce of Next Leader Now and why?

I would say the secret sauce of the Next Leader Now program is the consistency, or regularity, of the program. The structured classes, ongoing one-on-one coaching, and follow-up make this 15-month program very worthwhile. One and two-day training seminars, which are typical for this type of learning, do not provide the same impact. It is human nature to fall back in to old habits. This can happen easily when you aren’t receiving consistent coaching. The regularity of this program helps turn lessons into muscle memory habits.

Do you think your peers would be more likely to pursue career opportunities with an organization that is offering Next Leader Now? Why?

I do. The Next Leader Now program, while certainly a confidence booster, is a way for a company to not only make an investment in an individual’s future, but also show that they trust and value them as an employee. It makes you want to stick around for a while. Give young people this opportunity and they’ll want to return the favor.