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Handshake Honor Roll Winner: Webber’s Chelsea Littleton (Russo)

We’re thrilled to announce our Handshake Honor Roll 2023 winner: Chelsea Littleton (Russo), Director of Talent Acquisition and Development at Webber. 🎉

As the Director of Talent Acquisition and Development, Chelsea is leading the charge on recruitment, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, employee relations, and learning and development for Webber, a top nationwide infrastructure construction and maintenance company. When we asked about she helps leader her team to tackle all these incredibly important business areas, she said, “I'd like to quote a couple of lines from Webber’s cultural statement that I wholeheartedly believe in:

"We are always more interested in getting to the right answer than being right. We work as a team. We take risks. We don't crucify honest mistakes, and we don't tolerate people who won't learn from them. We know leadership is a privilege and an awesome responsibility that is earned every day. It is not an entitlement."

Chelsea’s commitment to these values shines through in her remarkable work. From an intentional commitment to DEI to building a brand that resonates with Gen Z, Chelsea’s strategic efforts fill Webber’s workforce pipeline with passionate talent ready to tackle today’s challenges and grow into tomorrow's Webber leaders.

1. Webber is committed to ensuring DEI efforts are authentic and intentional. What strategic insights would you offer other leaders?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives represent the overarching goal to ensure every employee feels like they have a seat at the table. That they feel comfortable, with all of their differences and uniqueness, to contribute, collaborate, engage, and feel a sense of belonging.

We must take intentional steps to ensure that DEI exists within an organization—or even an entire industry. In the construction industry, for example, we know that there is a large gender gap. Because of this, Webber's talent teams are making concerted efforts to:

1) Collaborate with the industry to encourage girls and women to join STEM and trades careers

2) Set internal goals and metrics for outreach and hiring practices

3) Develop internal employee resource groups such as WoW (Women of Webber) to continue the engagement and sense of belonging with our female-identifying population.

When it comes to achieving our DEI goals, Handshake has been a great resource for us, allowing us to reach such a wide and diverse audience. The messaging campaigns and virtual events, specifically, have been very helpful.

2. What advice would you offer leaders looking to improve their brand with in-demand talent?

To help answer this question, I consulted Tanner Glover, Webber’s "Handshake Champion," who herself is Gen Z and interacts with our early talent audience the most. Tanner advises those looking to improve their brand with early talent:

Make yourself adaptable. Early talent relies on technology to find full-time work, part-time work, an internship, and everything. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you digitally minded?
  • Is your Talent Acquisition team digitally minded?
  • Are you prepared to find talent using a different platform if it changes in 2-3 years?

Ensuring you remain adaptable to the ever-changing environment around you is how you will improve.

3. What other ways are you driving your team to be more successful?

The talent teams at Webber are highly focused on hiring the best and brightest talent, then nurturing and engaging that talent in continuous learning and development opportunities. This mindset starts at the top, and Webber's leadership team is very invested in these areas.

Handshake has played a significant role in our employer branding and online presence with students and graduates. Handshake has helped with staffing our largest group of over 70 Interns this year and filling full-time early talent needs. But we know that talent acquisition is just the start.

To foster engagement and a sense of belonging, companies must look at the ongoing employee experience. Webber has many initiatives to check the pulse of our workforce, regularly listen to the feedback provided, and address any areas in which we may need to improve. We believe in proactive and just-in-time training and in a culture that offers honest, ongoing feedback, so we are always learning and growing from our experiences.

4. What’s one of your favorite early talent hire success stories?

I have to take a moment to recognize Tanner Glover, Talent Acquisition Coordinator with Webber, who has played an essential role in our relationship with Handshake and is also an early talent hire.

With no prior experience in the tool, Tanner has become one of the topmost recognized users in the Handshake platform. Without Tanner’s ambition to both learn and use the tool to its fullest, we wouldn’t have reached the level of success within the platform that we have. With limited work experience, Tanner has made a “splash” within our Talent Acquisition team. She is a sponge who always responds with a smile, “Every day is a school day!” when she learns something new in the office.

My message to employers would be to invest in early talent. Take a chance on a hire who may not check every box on the job description.

And to students and those seeking employment, I’d encourage you to ask yourself what the company can offer you and what can you offer the company? An employment relationship is mutual. Employers and employees must both bring something beneficial to the table. Bring your A-Game, show up with passion and purpose, and you will do great things!

5. Given the economy, more executive leaders are interested in early talent hiring. As a leader who partners closely with your CHRO, can you share examples of how you collaborate for success?

Mitch Beckman, our Chief Human Resources Officer, empowers his team to make decisions. I value that trust. At the same time, one of the Webber values is Collaboration, and so we aim to meet daily to partner on all things related to talent acquisition and development strategies.

I value his input and believe in his practice of evaluating scenarios from a 360-degree view. Many of the HR programs we have in place today (Internship, Training, Benefits, etc.) were developed by Mitch years ago. Today, he has three Human Resources Directors, each specializing in different areas, and he empowers those Directors to lead their teams in each respective scope. Mitch has a saying that he leads by, which is, "The one perfect thing about excellence is that excellence doesn't demand one to be perfect." I witness this under his leadership every day!

6. Webber does remarkable work leading the construction industry in adopting technology to benefit clients and the community and how can early talent help?

We need fresh eyes and ears to look at scenarios from all angles and provide solutions to the many challenges our industry faces. As an HR professional, I'd encourage students to remain curious and engaged about technology needs in the workforce of today and the future, and employers to remain open-minded to new ways of doing things.

One of Webber's other values is innovation. Being a leader in the construction industry, we’re always evaluating what we can do to keep our business running faster, smarter, and safer. From interns to field engineers to accounting professionals, the early talent that Webber hires from universities across the U.S. ensures we are always questioning, evaluating, and learning.

The technologies of the past won't all serve us in the future, and both businesses and their employees should remain open and excited to explore the changing world we live in.

7. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities on the horizon for construction organizations who aren't investing in digital transformation?

Construction organizations, as with all industries, are limiting themselves if they are not prepared to invest in digital transformation. Not only are there missed opportunities for efficiencies, but we know that the early talent market demands it.

This generation is looking to join companies focused on ESG (Environmental, Social, & Governance) initiatives and those willing to invest in what is needed to remain competitive and sustainable. Webber's early talent internship program, as well as our ongoing training programs, keep these issues top of mind. We have the unique opportunity to both teach—and learn from—this generation, and what a great opportunity it is!

Please join us in congratulating Chelsea and her whole team at Webber!

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