Meet Our People: GAI Training & Development Professional Patty Racz

Patty Racz, MA, MS plays a special and vital role at GAI, facilitating and conducting a range of in-house learning and career-development programs for GAI’s staff. Her focus on employee education helps grow and hone the skills that GAI technical staff throughout the United States apply in their mission to help clients create better communities, transportation infrastructure, energy generation and delivery, and more. Today, we will find out a little about what makes Patty tick—the background, motivation, and methods that she brings to the table every day to benefit GAI’s staff and clients.

Slide Name: Patty Racz
GAI Office Location: Homestead, PA
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA 
Education: BA, Elementary Education and Psychology, Carlow University; MS, Education/Reading, Duquesne University; MA, Adult Education & Training, Argosy University Hobbies/pastimes: Yoga, hiking, cooking Patty Racz, MA, MS

Q: Please tell us a little bit about your area of specialization and what drew you to it.

Patty Racz: I have worked in education for over 30 years. I was inspired to study education because of my high school English teacher Mr. Holzer. He helped us prepare for the SATs by giving us weekly vocabulary words to study, and to this day, I still think of him whenever I hear a ‘Holzer’ word. This reinforces for me that educators can make significant positive impressions on their students that can continue to inform and benefit them throughout their lives.

Another thing that attracted me to this profession is the fact that training and development is applicable to so many industries—it’s allowed me to work in school districts, publishing, customer service, sales, IT, and higher education. I’ve trained people in a variety of topics including software, soft skills, leadership skills, and more—my assignments continually challenge me and push me to further develop my own skills, and this helps keep me engaged in my work.

Q: What role do you play at GAI, and what do you like most about your job?

Patty: I manage GAI University, our in-house educational and professional program that offers a wide array of free skill- and career-building presentations tailored to our industry and our staff’s needs. GAI University has offered staff 120 learning presentations and programs in 2023 alone.

In addition, I manage GAI’s MBA Program, which offers employees the opportunity to earn their MBA degree with GAI covering 50% of the tuition fees. It’s offered in partnership with Pittsburgh’s Point Park University, and I work with company leadership to determine who is accepted into the program, interview the applicants to be accepted, liaison between GAI and Point Park University, work with the university to help make sure transfer credits are applied, and more.

I truly love working with people who are life-long learners—I take education and development seriously, which makes my job very fulfilling. I am also honored to have the opportunity to work as part of GAI’s Human Resources team—they are a group of dedicated professionals who are eager to help people, provide staff with exceptional service, and make GAI a better place to work.

Q: What does your typical day look like?

Patty: In a nutshell, I spend my day communicating. That may involve educating our new employees, teaching classes, communicating training schedules, communicating with managers and directors to identify skill gaps to provide training recommendations, developing training materials and visual aids, and advertising and conducting our online ‘Lunch and Learn’ presentations and other training and teaching opportunities.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that people may not know or will be surprised to hear.

Patty: I did not learn English until I started Kindergarten. My family spoke mostly Slovak along with a few other languages depending on who my parents were speaking with. My mother could speak, read, and write in five languages. My father spoke even more languages, but I don’t know the number.

I can remember as a child struggling with the meaning of certain English words. When I started to read, I would read road signs. It took me a few years to understand the sign ‘Bridge Freezes Before Road’–I thought the word ‘before’ referred to a position on the road instead of a point in time. This showed me that we all deal with certain struggles or learning blocks at some point in our lives—and now when I am trying to teach someone something, remembering my own experience helps me to be patient with those who don’t ‘get it’ the first time around.

I certainly believe that empowering our staff produces positive results in terms of improved overall job performance and work experience to the benefit of our company, employees, and clients.

Q: Why do you feel that GAI is a good place to put your skills to work?

Patty: I conduct a weekly orientation meeting for GAI’s incoming staff. As part of this meeting, I introduce new hires to our company mission statement, We meet our clients’ challenges by empowering our staff and transforming ideas into reality. And if you take a moment to consider it, it’s truly an inspiring statement.

The second part of the mission statement, ‘empowering our staff,’ is powerful. In my case, I feel GAI leadership has empowered me to ‘own’ my program and take GAI University to the next level. This motivates me to work hard each day and continually strive to make it a better program for our employees. This freedom and degree of trust has helped make my career here inspiring, and I certainly believe that empowering our staff produces positive results in terms of improved overall job performance and work experience to the benefit of our company, employees, and clients.

Get in touch—message GAI and start the conversation about how our multidiscipline professionals can meet your unique project needs.

Patty Racz, MA, MSPatty Racz, MA, MS leads GAI’s training initiatives, including the award-winning GAI University program. With more than 30 years of experience in education, Patty has developed and conducted training and teaching on a range of subjects including leadership and development, sales and service, and software and technical training. She develops and facilitates classes and manages a wide range of training-related activities at GAI.

Learn More.