A year ago, Melva Pete was given the task of building a world-class human resource program for the 430 employees at one of the fastest-growing pipeline infrastructure companies in the country, SAK Construction. And she had to do it fast.
“We are in a tremendous growth mode, so that number of employees will increase rapidly over the next two to three years,” said Pete, vice president of human resources at SAK Construction. Joining the SAK team last year, Pete oversees all aspects human resources, and she serves as a member of the executive team. “Part of the reason I like being in HR is the ‘H,’ the human element,” Pete said. “I love working with people. My management style is to empower people and to give them the tools to be the best at what they do.”
On Friday, November 17, Pete will receive the Corporate Executive of the Year Award at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Business networking luncheon and awards reception. The event will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.
Because of the company’s rapid growth, SAK had outpaced its ability to put in place certain HR procedures, said Gerald Addington, general manager at SAK University. And that’s where Pete comes in. “Melva has a broad range of experience with more than one company at implementing those things,” Addington said. “She’s brought us that expertise that is contributing to us being even more successful.” Pete sees SAK as a “small company with big company resources.” “Every door is open every day to every employee,” she said. If an employee wants to meet with the CEO or president, all they have to do is knock on their doors, she said. No appointment is necessary. “SAK is very community-oriented and family-oriented,” Pete said. “The company was rooted in family, and we are very employee-centric. Every employee here is treated like family.”
Prior to joining SAK, Pete served in human resources executive and senior leadership roles at Bi-State Development Agency, Monsanto, Angelica Corporation, and Spectrum Brands. She attained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a master’s degree from Webster University, as well as senior level certifications with the Society of HR Management and the HR Certification Institute. Pete said she has a passion for helping others, which extends to the community, where her service includes Employment Connection’s Board of Directors and Employer Advisory Council at Concordance Academy. Pete is also a member of CHUMS, Inc., whose focus is enriching the lives of children and college-bound students through educational programs and scholarships. A firm believer in second chances, Pete’s volunteer commitments include conducting job-readiness workshops for ex-offenders to help them successfully transition back into the workforce. Some of her proudest professional achievements has been her mentoring and coaching to other professionals, she said. “Many of them have gone onto do great things,” Pete said. “I love what I do.”