Giving back to the vibrant city he loves
Andrew Flowers has worked in research and development with PPG — global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, and specialty materials — for over three years. With a background in water treatment chemicals and experience in everything from field service to sales to business development to process engineering, PPG hired Andrew to bring his applications experience to the team. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he grew up in the South Hills and now lives in Shadyside.
How did you find your career path?
I went to the University of Pittsburgh and studied chemical engineering. I loved chemistry from an early age, but I also loved to take things apart. I was always trying to understand how things worked, and I wanted to find a way to bring my interests in chemistry and mechanics together. So I ended up in chemical engineering so I could work on really big equipment projects, and eventually found my way to manufacturing. I started in the steel industry, working with boilers and process water treatment. It really fascinated me. Water is the universal solvent, and every industry uses water in some way. Because the chemistry of it is so complex, people have issues with it everywhere. I thought it would be an interesting niche to get into to understand the issues surrounding water and to be able to specialize in something.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Being able to identify an issue that a customer has and work closely with them to come up with a solution. I love being able to solve critical issues and watch that solution come to life.
What are your hobbies?
I like to dabble in a lot of different things. I like to stay active, so I do a spinning and a yoga class a couple times a week. I also joined a summer rowing league on a corporate team, which I’ve never done before. That’s been a lot of fun. I’ve gotten into photography a little bit as well, plus I have an Italian greyhound named Enzo — he keeps me pretty busy.
What do you love about Pittsburgh?
I love that it feels like a community that’s small enough that you don’t get lost, but big enough that there are events going on every weekend, whether it’s getting active, volunteering, or hanging out with friends. There’s always a new brewery or pop-up bar to visit, or plantings or cleanups with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Wednesday of every week I always think I have nothing to do that weekend, but by Thursday or Friday, I’m in a group text with my friends and then all of a sudden the weekend is totally packed. It happens every week — I love it.
How did you get involved in United Way?
I got involved through PPG, through our yearly fundraising campaign and Day of Caring. I started learning about the mission, and the campaign itself was a lot of fun because I got to meet a lot of new people.
What do you like about United Way?
United Way’s PA 2-1-1 Southwest line. When I learned about that, it really got me excited because it differentiated United Way from other charity organizations. There are so many organizations that have help available but when a person is in crisis, they don’t always know how to contact them or how to find those available resources, so a lot of people suffer alone. I really appreciate that United Way has 2-1-1, because it helps people connect to the help they need. I also like that there are different ways to get involved. This past year, I started looking for more opportunities to get further involved with United Way. Now I’m on the host committees for the Peter Buffett Concert & Conversation event on October 2, and for the 5th annual Hoodies for the Holidays event on November 20. I’ve also had the opportunity to attend Bridges Society and LINC events. That has been a great way to meet new people and get more closely connected to other ways to be involved in the community.
Why is volunteering important to you?
I’m at the stage of my career where I’m stable enough and want to stop focusing so much on my career and myself and start being thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. No one has to go it alone — we live and work in this society with our family and friends — and I’ve benefited from that support. I want to take time to help someone else. Everyone has a crisis at some time in their life and they need someone to lend a hand. I want to be a part of that — I want to be that someone who lends a hand and helps others.