THE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME?

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Randy Harber, a 36-year-old construction crew chief, is employed by one of the largest mechanical contractors in the country. His employer operates in 44 states and 14 foreign countries. Randy and his spouse, Eileen, have two children, seven-year-old Kelly and three-year-old Jason. Eileen is a registered nurse and works part time in a family-practice office. Randy began his career in the construction field by entering the apprenticeship program immediately upon completing high school. He served as an officer in the local union and became a crew chief three years ago. His technical skills rank among the best. During the past two years, he has taken evening courses at the local community college to enhance his supervisory skills and to improve his chances of becoming a field superintendent. However, the construction industry has experienced no real growth, and opportunities for advancement are slim. During the past winter, Randy and others suffered reduced work weeks and had their use of the company truck severely restricted.

Randy Harber had been called to meet with Kevin Cook, vice president of field operations, in Cook’s office. The following conversation took place:

KEVIN: Randy, you know that our revenues are down about 25 percent from
last year.

RANDY: Yes. (Thinking to himself, “Here it comes: I’m going to get laid off.”)

KEVIN: We’ve been trying to expand our base of operations and have bid on contracts all over the world. I think we have the opportunity of a lifetime, and you figure to be one of our key players. The United Methodist Church is collaborating in a joint venture in Liberia to build a
hospital on the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital city. They have a medical missionary program there, and this hospital is a $23 million project. The general contractor will be out of Milan, Italy, and we have received the mechanical portion of the contract.

RANDY: That’s great! We can use the work.

KEVIN: This project will give us a strategic advantage in the European-African corridor. Top management has talked it over, and we would like for you to be our field superintendent on this project. Not only is this a great opportunity for us, but it will give you invaluable experience.
In addition, your salary will almost double. All the people on this project will be our very best. You’ll be leaving in three weeks, and we’d expect you to be on-site for 14months. What do you think?

RANDY: Geez, that sounds fascinating. How soon do you need an answer?

KEVIN: Go home, think it over, talk to Eileen, and let’s get back together tomorrow afternoon at about 3:00.
ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS IN YOUR ESSAY

1. Evaluate the offer made to Randy Harber. Do you agree that this is the opportunity of a lifetime? Why or why not?

2. What factors should Harber consider, and how should Harber evaluate his career options?

3. If you were Randy Harber what would you do and why? (Before you answer these questions, you may want to check some Web sites to get information on Liberia’s history, economy, business and governmental practices, policies, culture, language, and living conditions.)

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