What led you to work in the construction field?
My interest in construction was influenced by my father who worked in the construction industry as a general contractor. Throughout my childhood, he would buy, renovate and sell property. Seeing a house change to a home fascinated me. I worked as a construction labourer for a framing contractor and eventually decided to enter Building Technology at BCIT. Upon graduation, I worked for a general contractor that constructed industrial and commercial buildings. In 1992, I joined Cape as an estimator and project coordinator, eventually honing my skills as a project manager and now overseeing the construction team as the Director of Construction.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day varies widely from day to day. Much of my time is spent communicating to the different stakeholders related to construction from clients, consultants and the construction team. I create and negotiate contracts with potential clients. I provide pre-construction advice to the developers, architects and engineers to improve constructability, optimize the product, improve the project schedule and reduce costs. I prepare and present budgets. I plan, organize, schedule, direct the construction team and oversee our projects. I review construction schedules, sub contracts and review and assess construction costs and project schedules. I work with the project management team to resolve sub trade and supplier issues. In addition, there are day to day administrative responsibilities from hiring new employees, ensuring our compliance with safety, improving our administrative processes to implementing change in our organization.
Construction costs are higher than they have ever been. How does this effect how you plan and manage projects?
Anticipating cost increases are always going to be a challenge especially in a growing economy and a booming construction industry. However, the requirements for establishing and controlling costs remain the same.
The construction process of establishing an order of magnitude budget, a budget and finally a construction estimate are very important tools to help the client establish their overall proformas. Consideration for anticipated rising costs as a result of time, inflation and shortages of resources must be considered at each stage of the project development. As construction managers, it is important to monitor the overall project timing, confirm trade pricing with completed drawings, create informed budgets and estimates at each step of the project life cycle. Finally, as construction managers, as we approach construction, we need to review trade scope, negotiate, award and issue sub contracts to mitigate owner risk.
Any tips for those who would like to manage construction projects in the future?
Every construction project is unique with their own set of challenges. It is a challenging field not for the faint of heart.
To manage a construction project, you need the appropriate stakeholders who understand and uphold their responsibilities to create a competent team. This starts with the client or developer and continues down the organization to construction manager, project management team, consultants, sub contractors and suppliers.
I recommend that if you are going to manage a construction project, have the appropriate construction education and the relevant construction experience, be well organized, have tremendous focus, be an able communicator, hone your people skills and finally, have a positive attitude.
As a manager of construction, you have to be prepared for challenges because there will be problems and you and your team have to be the problem solvers. Your preparation, experience and positive attitude will make you a great manager of construction.
And for something a little different, what’s the coolest animal you’ve seen in the wild?
I was lucky enough to travel to Africa in 2018 and although I saw many impressive animals in the wild, by far my favourite was the lion.