Although he’s a Jimmy Buffet fan, that doesn’t mean ISG Project Manager Kent Hays spends his working hours in Mankatoville looking for his lost shaker and salt—however, you might find him at the courthouse looking through 100-year-old historical records, or looking to pass the puck up the ice while playing with his hockey team. Outside of work and his hockey league, you can find Kent coaching at Mankato West, golfing, or reading. To learn more about Kent’s 14+ year career at ISG, his even longer career in hockey, or the challenges that come with working with surveying information from the mid-1800s, read on!

Why do you like Jimmy Buffet?

His outlook on life resonates with me. In this busy world, I think it’s important that we all take the time to have some fun, or relax with a beverage (or three).

So what do you do for fun or to relax?

Hockey, golfing, reading, spending time with family, and more hockey. I have played hockey since I was about four, and still do. I have also been a coach for the last 17 years or so at many different levels, and am currently an assistant coach for the Mankato West Girls’ team. I am lucky to have been able to coach my two daughters for most of their careers, but seeing as my youngest just finished up her senior year, it will be a change not having a kid on the team.

You’ve worked at ISG for 14 years. How did you get started?

I started in this career later than most with very little experience, but ISG gave me the opportunity to learn about the industry from the ground up. I began by working in the field, then became a Civil Technician, and now serve as a Project Manager for the Land Survey Department. This experience has given me a good understanding of the relationship between Civil and Survey, which helps me be an efficient manager.

Tell me about your work as a Project Manager. What do you do every day?

My favorite part of working at ISG, other than the people, is the variety of projects I get to work on. One day I might be in the courthouse digging through 100-year-old survey records, and the next I may be staking a new building or development. I am constantly intrigued by the history and challenge of working with information that dates back to the mid-1800s from the Public Land Survey System and the subsequent work by Land Surveyors that came after the original surveys. Another big part is helping schedule the eight field crews we have going out each day. With the weather, contractors, and other daily demands, there is a reason our schedule is on a wall covered with white board paint—it is constantly changing.

How has surveying evolved from 100 years ago to today?

Obviously, technology has been the biggest component of evolution. Because we’re not out pulling tape and taking angles anymore, we have a lot more time to survey large chunks of land quickly and accurately. Even in the last decade the technological advancement in survey work has been pretty monstrous—I remember we were one of the first firms to offer 3D scanning, and now it’s an industry standard.

What’s the next big thing in Survey?

The eyes in the sky—drones. As the technology continues to evolve, there will be more and more opportunities for drones to add to the work traditionally done by people. ISG is ahead of the game here as well, as we’re equipped with a certified drone pilot (my colleague, Garrett Burgess) who is constantly finding ways to enhance our work with drones.

How do you work to deliver solutions?

Coordination and communication. There is a lot of coordination needed before the survey department gets our hands on things to work with. We have to closely communicate with different departments so we can get new projects staked correctly, and are constantly coordinating with the contractors to make sure we are giving them the things they need in the field to build things correctly. By prioritizing clear and efficient coordination and communication, we expedite projects and avoid delays.

What’s the advantage of working with a firm that has an in-house Survey team?

We’ve recognized for a long time just how much an in-house survey department improves the ease of flow of work on projects. Instead of emailing an external firm and waiting for responses, we’re just a hallway or quick phone call away from any of our 300+ multi-disciplinary professionals, streamlining timelines and solutions to our clients and partners while avoiding costly communication hang-ups and errors.

What/Who inspires you? Why?

Good, honest, hardworking people. This firm is full of people who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the work that’s needed to get the job done. It is nice to be on a team that has that type of mentality, to use hockey terminology, every team needs some grinders to go along with the goal scorers. Even though I give the younger people around here a hard time about Snapchat sometimes, they are the future of the industry, and I think we’re in great hands with the people we have at ISG.

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Meet Sam Boeck

Sam leads talent engagement at ISG, focusing on providing innovative and strategic direction for talent engagement initiatives, including professional development, culture, and recruitment. Frankly put, Sam embodies ISG’s culture and...