Emerging Leaders Profile: Kyley Flynn
To help facilitate inclusive, collaborative relationships between seasoned code professionals and emerging industry leaders, the International Code Council created its Board Shadow Program — part of its successful Safety 2.0 initiative — which provides an opportunity for emerging code professionals to “shadow” the Code Council Board of Directors at the ICC Annual Conference, to intercept and absorb information and experience real-time leadership as they observe their board mentors.
Now in its fourth year, the program provides an opportunity for the ICC board to connect to diverse emerging professionals from different socio-demographic backgrounds and enables senior leaders to really hear a different level of thinking to real-time issues facing young code professionals today. The board gets a much broader range of views on strategic, complex and critical issues, and a feedback loop of challenge, solution, development and learning is created. The program demonstrates the benefits of investing in future code development leaders and helps create a diverse pipeline of “ready-to-go” leaders who understand and are already contributing to the construction industry.
Continuing our Emerging Leaders series is an interview with Kyley Flynn.
Building a stronger industry with Kyley Flynn
By the time someone is 24 years of age they may have finished college, tied the knot with a loved one, started a family, decided to tour Europe, joined the armed forces, started graduate school, or a number of other things that mark their transition to adulthood. By the time Kyley Flynn reached the age of 24, she was married with a child and had become a building inspector and plans examiner with seven Code Council certifications under her belt. And she owns her own business: K&L Creative Expressions, LLC.
The drive to be in the building industry started at an early age for Flynn. Many of her family members were in construction — they were civil engineers and built bridges and roads — and she wanted to be a part of the family conversation. Marriage and a child side tracked Flynn’s career aspirations at first, but after a few years, her mother-in-law referred her for a position with the city of Northglen, Colo., as a permit technician. A third party was running the department and they needed someone to fill the position right away. While Flynn wasn’t sure if she’d like it and didn’t have the experience — just some knowledge from the family — the position turned out to be a train-as-you-go and she took the job and loved it.
On one of her job training sessions, she went on a site inspection with a building official. The inspection was to inform a family that they had several code violations that would result in the family being displaced. The building official took the time to walk through the steps the family would need to take in order to stay in their home. Flynn was so inspired by this act of kindness that she decided that was the direction she wanted to go in her career — to be a building official.
She worked on learning her trade through the various building codes and resources offered by the International Code Council. During her time with the city of Northglen, she had the wonderful opportunity to work with several different building officials as she had to cover 28 different jurisdictions.
In 2018, she interviewed for a position with the company that past Code Council Board President Jay Elbettar was working with. She ultimately decided not to take the position, but Elbettar was impressed with her and asked if she’d like to be a part of the Code Council’s Board Shadow Program during the Annual Conference in Richmond, Va. At the time, Elbettar was the board president and although he was very involved and extremely busy during the conference, he made Flynn feel welcome. While the experience was initially overwhelming and she felt intimidated at first, Elbettar introduced her to everyone and took the time to explain things. She walked away from the Board Shadow Program experience with a new level of confidence. From time to time, Elbettar will reach out to Flynn to see how things are going, and he is available when she has questions.
When asked what advice she would give a newcomer into the industry, she said, “There are ways of getting into this industry without going to college by getting certifications, which can help someone build their career.” Although many may think her age and gender may be an obstacle, Flynn says that shouldn’t matter if one is ‘motivated and confident.’
She is also an advocate for supporting others in the industry. “Without the support of others, it can be very difficult,” she explains. Being a young woman starting out in this industry, she was faced with challenges, but she also makes a point to say that being a woman in this business was a blessing — because of the challenges she faced it made her just that more determined to succeed. She also acknowledges that the only reason she’s in this industry is because of the supportive men who encouraged her along the way. Without having the support and experiences she has had, such as being in the Board Shadow Program with Elbettar as her mentor, she’s not sure she would have been as determined to move forward, or even choose this industry as a career.
The future is an open book for Flynn, where she has set her sights high. By the time she had turned 24 she had gained ICC certifications as a permit technician, residential plumbing inspector, residential electrical inspector, residential plans examiner, property maintenance housing inspector; earned ICC certifications in residential building inspection and residential mechanical inspection; and served on the Code Council’s International Property Maintenance Code Board (2018–2019). Presently, her goal is to earn all her commercial certifications and then move on to obtain the Code Council’s coveted and prestigious Master Code Professional (MCP) designation. She would like to gain her MCP by the time she’s 28, and her ultimate goal is to be the first female Code Council president. These are encouraging aspirations and she hopes an inspiration to other people in this industry.