Cymone King, ’15, Makes Safety First at Clayco

By Eva Richards

cymone-king-photo-2Cymone King, '15, credits NIU with hands-on experience that helped open doors to her career. "Being a Huskie, I learned to be creative and to deliver quality service," she said.

When Cymone King, ’15, was on campus, earning her industrial management and technology degree, she seized the day, taking advantage of opportunities in her area of study wherever she could. Making contacts and learning industry best practices allowed King to eventually land her current role, as senior safety engineer for Clayco, Inc., a construction engineering company headquartered in Chicago.

“Earning my degree as a Huskie meant getting hands-on learning from one of the best environmental health and safety programs in the country,” she said. “Being at NIU was one of the best experiences of my life, which made it possible to have a successful career today. Being a Huskie, I learned to be creative and to deliver quality service.”

During her senior year, she served as president of the NIU Student Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals. As president, her main goal was to cultivate fruitful resources for other students to gain mentorship from safety professionals and job opportunities. She also worked as a community advisor, in the Honors Program at NIU and for the Technology department. 

“Professors in CEET’s technology department made sure to give us the hands-on experience we could use on our journeys to become professionals,” King said. “For example, in one class we were assigned to create a health and safety program for an actual organization. For my project, I created a hearing conservation program with another student at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. I later became a safety specialist at this hospital where I also revised their “lockout/tagout” and “ergonomics” programs.”

Initially, when King came to NIU, she was in the mechanical engineering program. After receiving the lineup of courses, she decided the program was not the best fit for her.

“I explained to my advisor that I wanted to help people and mainly stay inside the hospital,” King remembered. “I’ve always wanted to be on a team of people that works to create programs for the health and safety of patients and people visiting hospitals. My advisor then educated me on the environmental health and safety emphasis in industrial engineering and that is where it began. I’ve gone from working inside of hospitals to assisting construction contractors with infection control.”

King’s role at Clayco means she is the voice of and liaison for workers in the field in order to ensure their optimum safety. It means having only one goal—making sure every person on my job sites get back to their families at the end of the day, safe and sound. 

“My favorite part about my job is the ‘stretch and flex’ we have with the entire site in the morning before the work shift starts,” King said. “During that time, I am able to speak to every team member about safety and get them excited about work.”

King (front and center) enjoys meeting with team members each morning and getting them excited to work safely.  (This photo was taken in December before masks were required on Clayco's work sites.)

In this unprecedented time of COVID-19, safety is even more at the forefront for King’s workers. 

“I don’t feel my role has become more complicated during the pandemic because the goal has not changed, which is always keeping people safe,” she said. “We have had to redefine how we take care of workers while they are onsite by making it more of a community effort. My daily work now simply includes monitoring for social distancing and extreme cleanliness on my job sites.”

Now, more than ever, King is ready to help her coworkers.

“I remind team members to take care of each other because that is how we can remain injury-free,” she said. “I’ve always taken on the approach of making everything personal and, at Clayco, I am able to see that approach through with each team member and the group as a whole.”