Her interest in construction was ignited through her life-long exposure to her fathers’ manufacturing business in Topsfield. She says contracts, scheduling, quality and budgets were all part of their daily life, working with him on weekends and vacations, so the transition made sense.
She began with an architectural engineering independent concentration from Boston University and went to work for R.F. Walsh while continuing to take additional BAC architecture courses at night. As an assistant project manager, she got the opportunity to work on a highly complex state agency project that encompassed a multi-phased interior fit-out and she was hooked. To be a part of a process that “physically changed the space” really excited her so she decided to drop her classes at BAC and pursue construction management. Without the traditional co-op experience she was now behind the eight ball. On the advice of mentor Tim Bonfatti (pictured above with Christy) and other trusted colleagues, she took all the courses she could at Northeastern, WIT and AGC YCPI to get fully immersed as quickly as possible.
The challenge of not having direct CM experience meant that she had to work that much harder. So, when R.F. Walsh made the move to becoming an O.P.M., she realized she did not have the experience or the credibility at 29 years old (and female) to stay on in that capacity. What she did realize was that she brought value through her experience and knowledge in management and crunching numbers so she accepted her next position at Walsh Brothers as a project manager. This was her first introduction to the health care space, an important sector to learn. This sector connected with her love of non-profit/mission-driven clients and projects. Although the recession had effected the entire industry, Healthcare stayed strong and for the next three years she continued to hone her skills.
Wanting to work closer to home, she accepted her next role with J.K. Scanlan Company, Inc. (Now Dellbrook | J.K. Scanlan) as senior project manager where she managed the pre-construction, estimating, scheduling and project management of the new federally-funded 22,000sf addition to the Community Health Center of Cape Cod's existing facility as well as many projects for Cape Cod Healthcare. She said it was an important move as it gave her experience in yet another sector that was both union and open shop.
The next three years she worked towards what would bring her full circle to her friend and mentor in a role she says she was meant for. She says working as an O.P.M. at Compass with Tim allows her to pull from her 17 years of construction experience to be helpful to all project team members by creating a plan that meets the project’s goals and fostering an environment of teamwork. She sees her role as eliminating obstacles so that everyone can do their best work. Her typical day entails meetings (lots of meetings), writing (because absolutely everything must be communicated in detail), strategizing, forecasting, reviewing estimates, scheduling, evaluations and more. She shares it’s critical to establish an early set of goals that sets the tone for the entire project team while acknowledging and respecting the individual goals of each team member.
She has regained her work/life balance, something she had recently lost focus of in the prior years. She is proud of the time she spent building her knowledge and proving her worth through extended hours of work but now recognizes it is important to manage your work and personal time with equal vigor. Networking and maintaining relationships are still important, but can be managed reasonably by evaluating the opportunities to attend events against your current personal and/or company goals. She notes there is a lot to love in this industry, but it is easy to lose the passion for the work if you burn out.
Just recently she received her procurement certification for School Project Designers & Owner's Project Managers from the Mass. Office of the Inspector General allowing her to work on State-funded school projects with the MSBA. She has been a member of the Plymouth Building Committee since 2008. She is also actively engaged in presenting to various schools on the career opportunities in the AEC industry, and sits on the executive committee of BWiC, an AGC MA support group for women in construction.
In retrospect, she wishes she had known more about all the AEC career options in construction as a High School student so she could have avoided “chasing” her goals, but also shares that her continued growth never ends and is all “part of the process”. She looks forward to seeing where technology will take the industry and plans on embracing it. As far her construction career, O.P.M. is the last stop, but that doesn’t mean the end. She envisions herself one day owning a small B&B and continuing her passion in creating great experiences and serving those around her.
What she is most proud to share is that she is a product of many mentors. For 18 years, Tim, Aurora, and Dom challenged, supported and pushed her to her greatest potential and are still her closest friends to this day and she couldn’t be more grateful. She says if you do the work, the right people will find you at the right place and right time.
Thank- you Christy for sharing your experiences and supporting our mission of building women in construction!