The GRIT Awards acknowledge individuals who have gone above and beyond in embodying the ECS core values of collaborate, focus and lead in the workplace. John Bruce, Environmental Project Manager, is our 2023 GRIT Award winner.
Q: How did you come to ECS? What was your journey to the company?
A: I started with ECS at the end of 2013. ECS was not my first interview after graduating from Penn State but was the first offer that I chose to accept. It wasn’t until a family gathering that I learned that my brother-in-law had worked for ECS in its early days. He was the person who arguably had the greatest influence on my potential career path. In an interesting way, my journey to ECS started with someone who had a positive experience with our company at its start, who then passed his appreciation for that experience and the career field onto me.
Q: What motivates you to work hard?
A: I’ve always placed a value on maintaining what I consider a healthy “work-life balance.” In certain scenarios, ECS has cultivated an environment where an employee can choose between simply doing what’s expected of them and going beyond that. Personally, I’m much more accepting of demands that I put on myself and my time than I would be if those demands came from someone else. It’s really been ECS’ flexibility to allow me that choice that’s driven me to take on the long days, extended trips, or extra effort to get the job done.
Q: What was your first job? Did you like it?
A: I started with ECS as an Environmental Scientist and appreciated almost everything that comes from developing a working knowledge of our industry. Whether that was spending days in the office writing reports or putting in long days sampling soil and pumping wells. I had my first day at ECS on December 18, 2013, and by December 24, I was in a truck at 4am heading to Bentleyville, PA during a snowstorm to sample wells in single digit temperatures. I think a person would know at that point if a job were for them or not!
Q: What advice would you give someone just coming into the industry?
A: “Do your best.” This is the first time I’ve thought about it, but I can remember having very different and unique conversations with three individual staff members early on in their time with ECS, when they came to me with the concerns about their performance in various aspects of the job. It’s easy for us to forget how difficult it can be for a person new to the job to draft a report whose purpose they barely grasp. If we’re providing the right degree of support until our staff have their footing, to me, all that a new hire must do is try hard, whatever that means for them. It’s our responsibility as management to take it from there.
Q: Being tough is a necessary part of having GRIT. Who in your life helped you develop this quality?
A: My first supervisor at ECS, Jeff Humpton, had a tough run during his time at ECS. That’s understating it. From a shattered hip, to beating one round of cancer, to eventually struggling through a second round, he and his family faced more obstacles than I could ever fathom. All the while, he came to work as much as he could, taught me most of what I knew about this job at the time, and made the office a fun place to be. If ever there was a model for me for how to have fun while powering through tough times, it would be Jeff.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: This question breaks into two categories for me. As far as my own work goes, having success in developing and maintaining a series of clients that have grown our business in the solar energy sector with projects in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and recently into the Midwest markets has been a point of pride for me. As an engineer, marketing and business development are not usual focal points for me. Seeing success from pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, by arranging face-to-face meetings with a client and seeing that effort pay off with a modest expansion in business is something that I’m incredibly proud of. Beyond career accomplishments, something else that has been the biggest source of pride for me, is knowing that all the staff that I supervise WANT to be here, BELIEVE that they can grow with the company and are GLAD to put in the work to see it through. They have no fear coming to me for help and know it won’t be seen as a shortcoming on their part. I’m proud that I’ve been able to do my part to grow this group, proud of them for how far they’ve come and take pride knowing ECS trusts me with this role.
Q: What does winning the GRIT Award mean to you?
A: The GRIT Award is a recognition that our values at ECS are important to the company from our most senior leaders to our young professionals at the start of their careers. For me, winning the award is a kind of reassurance that we’re all on the same page.