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Keeley'n Spotlight: John Regan

By: Claire Sauer

What Got Us Here

KeeleyU, the Learning and Professional Development pillar at the Keeley Companies, is an integral part of our culture. John Regan, Vice President of Learning and Development and our resident Professor, has made it his mission to help Keeley’ns unleash their potential and elevate their careers to the next level. John’s passion for helping others began early in his career and his leadership has helped KeeleyU grow into the robust and influential program that it is today.

John began his career in the construction industry over 20 years ago as a Geological Engineer. While he loved the science, construction, and project management that went into his role, he found that his true passions lied with helping his team members reach their potential and motivating them to get their work done and get their work done well. When he was given the opportunity at Keeley Companies to move from project management to creating and implementing the KeeleyU program, he didn’t hesitate. Building people is what he loves to do.

John took over KeeleyU in 2017 when the program was still in its infancy. With this came many challenges, the biggest challenge being taking this blank canvas and his desire to help others and tailoring the program to meet the needs of the individual companies, business groups, and individuals that serve the Keeley Companies.

“As most entrepreneurs will tell you, it’s the wide-open field with all options that is the most exciting and the most anxiety creating.”

In order to overcome these challenges, John and his team ensured that they had a strategic plan in place. This plan was based on the needs of Keeley’ns that would be utilizing the program every single day, from the field craftspeople all the way to the executive leadership team. Implementing a rigorous needs analysis, refining the vision and strategy with CEO, Rusty Keeley, and presenting to the Board of Directors, Presidents, and other Executives were crucial to the success of KeeleyU. Continuous and intentional relationship building, vision casting, and proving a track record of results is an evolving and ongoing process that ensures the continued success of KeeleyU.

“Tying learning, strategic planning and coaching together in my role has been THE secret ingredient in the sauce that is a successful KeeleyU program. Hearing from the business group strategic planning meetings what their challenges, opportunities, and future vision are, as well as the ground truthing of personal ambitions in coaching, allows KeeleyU to provide learning opportunities that are just-in-time and relevant to our people and business goals.”

What Will Get Us There

Keeley Companies has experienced exponential growth which, in turn, allows KeeleyU to grow and evolve to the ever-changing needs of Keeley’ns. While John has had many proud moments throughout his career, he will tell you that his proudest accomplishment is the fact that KeeleyU has proven resilient and effective during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the first day of enforcing a Work From Home policy, John and his team pushed the program to take its remote learning and on-demand learner content to the next level. The tools were already in place and the KeeleyU

team was able to double down on great content for Keeley’ns to utilize, no matter where they are in the world, and accelerate these forms of learning to become KeeleyU’s full time delivery methods. This pandemic allowed John and his team to really think about where they wanted to take KeeleyU in the future. Creating specialized, technical schools focused on our industries, leveraging technology to further facilitate remote learning, implementation of AR/VR to create immersive environments, and incorporating more of both internal subject matter experts along with world class outside experts, are just a few of the things John wants to implement in order to take KeeleyU to the next level. However, one thing will remain consistent throughout KeeleyU’s future growth – the strong focus placed on leadership, management, culture, operations, and safety.

John’s journey with Keeley has been an exciting whirlwind, but his favorite thing about being a Keeley’n is the growth opportunities presented to everyone regardless of their position. He has experienced that career growth first-hand and has been given a unique opportunity to help Keeley’ns forge their own paths of success, both individually and organizationally, while being able to do the same with the KeeleyU program.

“In a true entrepreneurial organization, results on purpose is the path for success. This is a unique and powerful part of the Keeley Companies culture.”

In the past five years since KeeleyU began, it has been amazing for John and his team to watch the impact it has had on Keeley’ns across the country. John and his team have heard countless stories from team members about how KeeleyU has helped them get a promotion, assist with recruiting new team members, and learn more about their industry. As “Investors in People”, it is when Keeley’ns take what they’ve learned and share with their families that John knows he is doing what he loves. Investing in not only their careers and lives, but in the lives of others outside of the business.

When starting a new career, it can be intimidating to think about the future and where you want to go. John’s advice to someone wanting to take their career to the next level but doesn’t know where to start would be:

“Play the long game. It’s human nature to ‘want’ right away, but success comes from the thousands of lessons forged in failure, experience, and coaching that we learn along our journey.

Create a plan that includes a multi-year vision for your life, a definition of success that encompasses the important areas of your life, craft a strategy to put these into play, and then:

  • Take advantage of Learning & Development programs, like KeeleyU, to get your learning started

  • Be aware of opportunities to volunteer to put your skills to test on the job

  • Implement a personal form of after-action debriefing when things go well or go poorly so that you take away the crucial knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will move forward

  • Most importantly, keep putting in the hard work

If you do these things, you’ll be successful in not only your career, but also your life as a whole.”

John, thank you for your passion and leadership. KeeleyU has been a foundational part to Keeley Companies and it is going to be amazing to watch the future growth that is in store! Click here to learn more about KeeleyU.

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