Employee Spotlight: Guam Area Manager—Experiences and Working with Weeks Marine
In a Weeks Marine employee spotlight Q&A, Cristian “Cris” Wise, Guam Area Manager for Healy Tibbitts, shared how he ended up 8,000 miles from his hometown and the evolution of his role throughout his tenure on the island of Guam, among other topics.
When did you start working for Weeks Marine and in what role? How did you end up in Guam?
I was hired by Healy Tibbitts, a company in the Weeks Marine family, straight out of graduate school in 2010 to be a Project Engineer on a large wharf improvement project in Guam for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command. More specifically, I was the Project Engineer for the stone column installation portion of the project. For many, a job in such a remote location might not be ideal, but when I was in college I really wanted to travel. Guam seemed like a real adventure. At the time, there wasn’t much information online about Guam and I had committed to be here for two years. It is 8,000 miles from my hometown in Jacksonville, FL, and back then I didn’t have any friends or family here. Getting on the plane to fly out here at first felt like jumping off a cliff, but I pushed aside any feelings of doubt and dove in head-first.
How has your role changed since you started?
Thirteen years later, I am the Guam Area Manager for Healy Tibbitts. The volume of work here fluctuates, so my role changes according to the workload and project needs. Often, I am the only salaried Healy Tibbitts employee on the island, so I have gotten to do a little bit of everything. Throughout my time in Guam, I have been a Project Manager, Superintendent, Project Engineer, Collateral Duty Safety Officer, and Estimator, while also fulfilling the roles of Human Resources, Administration, and Marketing. Sometimes these roles overlapped; other times I had a single focus. It’s only possible for me to cover such a wide variety of roles with support from my Healy Tibbitts colleagues based in Hawaii and the Weeks Marine teams at headquarters in New Jersey.
What is your favorite part about working for Weeks Marine?
There are two things that immediately come to mind. The first is the people that work at Healy Tibbitts and Weeks Marine. I get to work with a diverse group of people from all over the U.S. and the Pacific—all with unique stories, backgrounds, and areas of expertise. Spending time with my colleagues both on-the-job and in social settings has expanded my worldview and has been an enriching experience.
The second is the challenges we take on daily due to the technical aspect of our work. There is a lot of planning and engineering that go into each stage of our projects and I am very grateful I get to think critically every single day and work on finding solutions to challenges to get the job done right, safely, and on time. A lot of other contractors fear the work we do, but I take a lot of pride in our ability to execute our projects safely and efficiently.
What are you most proud of in your career with Weeks Marine so far?
Again, there are two things. One is being the Project Manager on a recent Outfall Diffuser installation at Tanguisson Beach. We installed a 400 ft high-density polyethylene diffuser with articulated concrete block mats off a DP2 vessel. Its purpose is to disperse treated sewage over a large area, so it mixes more efficiently with the salt water, which prevents damage to the coral reef in the vicinity. The project site was in 140 ft of water off the west coast of Guam. This job took about a year of planning for just two weeks of work. The crew executed flawlessly—easily the smoothest job we have completed out here. We even finished 1 day early. The job was such a success that we were honored with the 2022 AGC Build America Awards Merit Award in the Best Environmental Enhancement Project category, a major industry achievement.
The other thing I’m most proud of is being able to serve as a mentor to others. Recently, one of our employees who started out as a laborer became a licensed crane operator. My colleagues and I helped with practical training on Saturdays and after hours and helped review study materials. We really try out here to provide career guidance and training for our employees, and when we see people achieve their goals it is really gratifying. Not only does it benefit the company, but it is rewarding to help someone provide a better future for themselves and their family.
What do you want prospective employees to know about working at Weeks Marine? Why should someone consider a career with us?
Working for Weeks is both challenging and rewarding. If you aren’t afraid of hard work and pushing yourself, with the support of Weeks Marine’s teams it’s possible to accomplish things you wouldn’t have known you were capable of. Speaking for myself, work that is easy and familiar isn’t as appealing as challenging and different work—after all, I took a job in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I never want to feel unfulfilled or like the work I do is mundane. Working here ensures I never feel that way.
Weeks Marine is one of the largest, most-respected marine construction, dredging and tunneling contractors. Over the years, many designers, clients, and construction managers have expressed how glad they were that we were on the project. We’ve earned this reputation because of the intelligent, genuine, and hardworking people at Weeks Marine and its family companies.