August 28, 2016
You may remember Andrew Peters as the defensive end for the West Virginia University Football Team that played from 1973-1975 under the second winningest coach in college football history, Bobby Bowden. Well, Peters is also a 1975 marketing graduate of the WVU College of Business and Economics.
With a title like Chief Safety Officer at AECOM and the Class of 2015 B&E Roll of Distinguished Alumni designation, it is easy to see the Pittsburgh native has gone on to lead a very successful career in safety management.
Peters now has a new title to add to the list – member of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Advisory Committee on Construction Safety & Health (ACCSH). He was recently appointed to the committee by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. Below is a Q&A about his path through WVU football, B&E and his boisterous career.
Why did you decide to go to WVU to pursue a degree in marketing?
I was a pretty good high school football player. I was recruited by a lot of different universities. I accepted a full scholarship to West Virginia University from my coach, Bobby Bowden. What also was great was when I went on the recruiting trip, the coaching staff made sure I had ample opportunity to talk with faculty, to walk the campus, to understand what was available from an academic standpoint. It wasn’t all just about football, and my father’s family was from Moundsville, so we had a very strong connection.
Discuss your role as Chief Safety Officer for AECOM.
I have a global responsibility for safety, health and environment for AECOM, which is the number one design engineering construction firm in the world. We’ve built and designed some of the most prestigious projects in the world. In the United States, we recently won the contract to build the Los Angeles Rams football stadium. We are building the Atlanta Falcons football stadium [and] the Detroit Redwings hockey arena. We managed the construction of the World Trade Center Tower One, and we are managing the construction of Tower Three now. We are just a fascinating company.
My role is to develop and implement strategy to mitigate risk globally for AECOM. So, we work for many prestigious clients and many government agencies throughout the world – oil and gas clients that are very safety sensitive and have very high demands for safety performance and local municipalities – building dams, bridges and so forth.
As a marketing major at WVU, why did you decide to go the safety management route?
It’s really interesting how everything ties in. When I left school, I actually went into the mining industry and worked for about 10 years for the U.S. Steel Mining Company. I started from the underground up. I started as a miner because I didn’t have a mining engineering degree, and then I proceeded through management and became a supervisor there. And then, I went back to school and got my master’s in personnel administration and labor relations from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. I then embarked on a career in construction. My first job was safety manager for the construction of the new Pittsburgh International Airport. One of the things that helped me about having my marketing degree was learning how to sell my product of safety because at first many people really don’t understand what the roles and responsibilities are for safety, why it’s important to an organization. My job was to sell it to our employees for them to buy into work safety and to convince executive senior leadership that it was a high return on investment.
Congratulations on your appointment to the OSHA ACCSH. What does this role entail?
Being on that committee, I am a representative for the construction industry on the management side. I can provide my feedback to them as to what should be included in the standard and how the standard could impact businesses – how should the standard be written to benefit all concerned. It’s an opportunity for me to share my experiences and to recommend to OSHA my opinion as to how to maximize the most of out of these standards to make a safer workplace.
How did B&E and WVU prepare you for the successful career you’ve enjoyed?
From playing football, I certainly learned a lot of discipline and a lot about time management. The coaches had a lot of demands, and you either performed or you didn’t. If you performed, you got an opportunity to play; if you didn’t perform, you sat on the bench, which would be no fun.
On the academic side, you learned about the different principles that were successful when you went into the business world with the importance of strategic planning: how to market not only yourself but products as well, and the whole finance and accounting aspect, which is really critical for any business globally. Particularly in the businesses I have worked on, there’s been such a focus on profit and loss that you really needed to understand the financial aspects of the company in order to provide the safety programs to support the strategy of the company.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in your professional life?
There have been several that have been significant for me. I am in the Fox Chapel High School Sports Hall of Fame. I think that was a very good accomplishment for me. For my college football career, I was voted Most Valuable Player versus the University of Pittsburgh in 1973. Staying at the collegiate level, the B&E Roll of Distinguished Alumni, that’s a fantastic accomplishment. One that exceeded my expectations. And then professionally, I won the CEO Award for Excellence in 2014 from AECOM, and that meant a lot to me to be recognized by my company at such a high level for my work.
What do you think it means to be a Mountaineer?
It’s a special feeling of pride that you represent a state that is just filled with wonderful people that are hardworking and loyal and have a pride of being from West Virginia. I took a lot of pride every time I ran on the field knowing I represented everybody from my state. And even though I wasn’t born and raised there, I feel like I’m very close to West Virginia. It feels like home to me every time I go back.