Two-way mentorship makes on-the-job learning mutually beneficial

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Jeff Riley has worked in construction for 45 years, but he says he's still learning.

"Things are changing so fast you have to have a willingness to learn," says the 64-year-old general superintendent for Suffolk, the national construction company building the new Manor Riverwalk Apartments in downtown Tampa.

Riley is learning about technology from 29-year-old assistant project manager, Samira Kraziem. In return, she's learning the finer points of construction from him. 

"He's taught me so much more than I could have learned on my own or in a book," says Kraziem, one of a growing number of women moving up in the construction industry.

Some call it reverse mentoring; younger workers who grew up with technology help older workers with iPads and computers - while older workers impart knowledge and techniques learned through decades of experience.

"I've always been a paper person. I would be carrying around a set of drawings and she has an iPad and she makes life simple for me," Riley laughed.

On the other end, Kraziem joins Jeff for early-morning concrete pours.

"I've learned everything that goes into a pour, from blockouts to rebar and galvanized rebar and different types of rebar," she says. 

Last year Suffolk introduced its Smart Lab in Tampa where clients and architects can use touchscreen monitors and other technology to model new development and virtually go inside projects that are still in the planning stages.

On this construction site, they bring technology that Kraziem and Riley can use together. They both say they enjoy their mutually-beneficial partnership.