@Ken Andrus

Vice president/COO, Pearson Safety Services

Age: 26

Education: Bachelor of science, criminal justice - Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Murray State University.

Some of Jackson's professional accomplishments include:

n Corporate development manager.

n Director of Hickman County Emergency Management.

n Implemented annual internship program within Pearson Safety Services to ensure students gain experience and knowledge before graduation.

A few of the organizations he has been involved in:

n Young Professionals of Murray-Calloway County.

n Rotary Club of Murray.

n American Society of Safety Engineers.

What is the biggest challenge for a young leader in today's workplace?

In my current role as vice president and chief operating officer of Pearson Safety Services, the biggest challenge I face would be proving to seasoned professionals that I have the same drive and passion that they have for our field of study. It is important that I show them the skill sets that I have and highlight the skill sets that they have to work together, so we can come up with a solution to the reason why they called our firm to assist in the first place. A lot of times I show up to give a presentation on one of our services or meet to discuss a plan of action and get remarks asking how old I am and other stuff of that nature. As I have taken previous constructive criticism as a way to better myself professionally, I know I have to put in the extra work and preparation to prove to those people that age is just a number and not a contributing factor of our services or talent of the rest of the team.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

One characteristic that every leader should possess is that of being a good listener. If you want to have an effective and growing team, no matter what industry, then you have to be able to listen. As a leader of my organization, I often find myself doing management level tasks whether it be reviewing budgets, account documents, or taking care of larger issues, which means our team is working together to make our organization run smoothly conducting the services our firm offers. As they are in the field and dealing with our clients daily, I find it crucial to just sent down and listen to our team to find our trends, client issues, or any ideas they may have. The best ideas and how things should be implemented come from our other team members. Just by asking questions and listening to everyone on our team, I can take those ideas to implement changes or develop new ideas for our operations and our clients. When a leaders listen to learn this only benefits the whole team and makes the team members invested in the success of the company because they were allowed to be a contributing factor in a proactive culture. One of my favorite success quotes about listening is, "Most of the successful people I've known are the ones who do more listening than talking." - Bernard Baruch.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

To ensure that I continue to grow and develop as a leader, I want to practice these traits daily. First, I want to set goals and have a clear vision for my personal goals, career goals, and goals for our team that are obtainable with hard work. I want to continue to be passionate about our organization, services, and field of study by learning and developing communication skills. I want to be involved in leadership and groups outside of work in addition to those during work hours. Be willing to admit and learn from weaknesses and failures and be positive to motivate others as a role model. Finally, I want to continue to practice listening to learn and not listen to reply, which will help continuing to gain knowledge and grow as a young leader.

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