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Mark Tillotson, Harkins Builders

Mark Tilotson
It’s a top-notch college, I can have a real impact, and it’s a great recruiting opportunity.
Bringing real-world experience to the classroom.

Mark Tillotson, a commercial vice president at Harkins Builders, appreciates his undergraduate education but he does have one critique: none of his professors actually worked in the field. “My first job in construction management was a wake-up call; there was so much I had to learn on the job that I was not prepared for in school.”

When Tillotson was asked to guest lecture in the Construction Management Program at Howard Community College, he was encouraged to bring his real-world experiences to the classroom. After looking at the textbook lesson on the Critical Path Method (CMP is a scheduling technique used to plan and control a project), Tillotson went a step further: he brought in the actual CPM software so students could practice in his class. Students welcomed the hands-on experience—one of them, Jonius Robinson, was so engaged he secured an internship with Harkins Builders that semester.

Impressed by the quality and value of Howard Community College, Tillotson became more involved, supporting the Vino Scholastico event and joining the 5K Challenge Race committee.

Noting the need for skilled labor in his industry, which has lost specialized workers in the last decade, Tillotson is also a supporter of HCC’s new Construction Management Apprenticeship Program. The program includes construction management and work readiness courses, as well as 2,000 on-the-job training hours per year with employers like Harkins Builders.

Tillotson’s future may include teaching more classes at HCC. “It’s a top-notch college, I can have a real impact, and it’s a great recruiting opportunity,” says Tillotson, who is always on the lookout for strong hires.

He already has a good track record. Remember the student who started an internship after that class lecture on the Critical Path Method? Jonius Robinson was recently hired by Harkins Builders, where they were able to devise a schedule that wraps his classwork around his job. Robinson is forging his own critical path in construction management—with the support of mentors like Mark Tillotson.

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