We recently talked to Haven Hardage about why he supports the Gibbs College of Architecture (GCA). Hardage graduated with a Bachelor’s of Architecture and Minor in Construction Science. Currently, he is working with a new company, Factory Blue, which specializes in Modular Pre-Fabrication Construction.

What inspired your gift to the GCA?

I was a part of many student organizations that made a difference on campus and in our local community. These efforts would not have been possible without the outside support we received. I hope my gift can inspire great change on campus and in Norman.

What do you hope to support with your gift?

I would hope that it could support Design-Build competitions which would drive integration between the different programs at GCA or help support GCA student organizations

What other causes are you passionate about?

I believe the best way that I can personally give back to my community is through helping educate our youth. I was part of a team at my company that created Design-Build competitions for local high school students. The top three teams received scholarships to help further their education after high school. My company is also a part of a partnership with Dallas Independent School District where we meet with faculty to review their curriculum, and we meet students to teach them about the construction industry and educate them about trade positions.

What legacy would you like to leave?

The legacy I would like to leave is being involved on campus, communicating with students, and letting their voices be heard through the different positions I’ve held, like College of Architecture (CoA) Student Body President and AIAS Vice President. I also helped start many student groups on campus, like Freedom by Design, and a fraternity that won the President Cup two out of the three years I was on campus. My main focus is on community involvement, academic achievement, and involvement on campus.

We also asked Haven to share a bit about his time at OU and where he is now.

Which programs did you graduate from?

I received a Bachelor of Architecture degree with a Minor in Construction Science.

What are you most proud of from your time at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and beyond?

As a student at OU, I was very diligent in my school work, super involved on campus, and worked at the CoA Model Shop [now called the Creating_Making Lab]. Although I put in long hard hours, I still made time to be a typical college student, and I am very proud of that. I will be the first to tell you to grind away at the long hard hours it requires to become successful, but I will also tell you it’s okay to skip that Friday class that gets out a 5:20 pm from time to time, because no other student at OU has class that late on a Friday. You will not connect with coworkers and clients discussing what you did in a class at 5 pm on a Friday. You will connect with them if you are able to share a story of the time you skipped class and went on an epic camping trip with your friends. I think, at times, we focus too much on the technical skills that are required to be successful, and neglect the soft skills that are also required to get your foot in the door.

What role are you in now? How did you arrive at your current role?

A year ago, The Beck Group started a new company called Factory Blue which specializes in Modular Pre-Fabrication Construction. I was honored to be a part of the management team to help startup Factory Blue. I’m still here today, and we just completed our first pre-lab elevator and have installed close to 100 Bathroom Pods for two different hospitals. I can truly say that how I got where I am today is through hard work and dedication. This is easy to say but hard to grasp. Looking back, I can see that I received promotions by volunteering to do the jobs that no one else wanted to do and then doing them to the very best of my ability with a smile on my face. Remind yourself that no one might want to do it, but you can.

What was it like transitioning out of university and into work-life? What advice would you give to current students as they advance into their careers?

Showing up to class and completing your work is the minimum requirement to graduate, and that is what the average student does. Stand out to future employers by competing in competitions and being involved on campus.

A good GPA and my selection of work from my classes at OU got me interviews with the top employers, but once we sat down, we did not discuss class work. We talked about the extracurricular competitions I competed in, and my involvement on campus and throughout the community. I am not saying that your class work is not important, but if you show up to an interview with the same things that every other graduate has, it will be hard to stand out.

Same goes in the professional world. Showing up and putting in your 40 hours is what every employee does across the nation. Get involved in different professional groups, support your community, and find freelance work to help you stand out from the crowd. If you want to get promoted quickly in your career, find ways to add true value to your employer.

Featured image: Interns from all over the country visited the Factory Blue facility in DFW. In building a high top table, they learned the process of milling down lumber and how to weld. Haven is in the center of the photograph.