• BWiC Profile Featuring Kelly Gillen, LEED Green Associate, Cost Engineer, Turner Construction

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    Kelly first became interested in the Construction industry through an uncle who, as a Civil Engineer, shared his stories about working on the New Bay Bridge in San Francisco. With a passion for math and working with people, she wasn’t quite confident there was a field that would satisfy both until she attended a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference. There she met inspirational women working at Turner Construction who shared their stories of commitment and success for the industry. While attending a career fair at UMass in March of her senior year, she was hired by Turner as a Field Engineer and hasn’t looked back since.

    Her first project at Turner was for a financial services firm for a major lobby renovation where her responsibilities included: keeping daily construction reports, maintaining updated drawing sets, engineering closeout, maintaining punch-lists, filing material deliveries and transfers, sending RFIs and submittals to architect, running safety orientations, taking updated photographs of the job site and ordering office supplies.

    Kelly believes this was a great start to building her resume of work, as a one year interior project it gave her an opportunity to experience a wide range of tasks, as well as interacting with sub-contractors, architects and owners, all which helped to build her confidence.

    From there she moved on to her next project and role as an Assistant Superintendent for Fan Pier Parcel C, a high rise luxury condo building along Boston’s burgeoning Seaport district.  Her responsibilities included:  Managing BIM360 Field system for punch list/checklists/material tracking, setting line and grade control for building layout, performing pre and post camber surveys of structural steel and slab surveys of concrete decks, assisting various subcontractors with layout including concrete curbs, bent plate locations, surveying surrounding job site for settlement records, preparing project as builts for review and record, keeping daily construction reports of activities and man-counts on site and maintaining the concrete pour log.

    With just under two years’ experience and the only female in the field, Kelly found it challenging but not impossible to earn trust and respect with her colleagues. She continually asked questions when appropriate, demonstrating her desire to learn, which in turn allowed her to eventually share her ideas on efficiency and organization. And although she admits that “a woman’s presence in the field can change the vibe” she is discovering that there are a growing number of men that offer encouragement and support for success.

    As of this past October, Kelly was encouraged to take on a new role as Cost Engineer for two years, a position that is unique to Turner. It can be stressful at times, (working on as many as five projects at a time) but will give her a broad range of experience and exposure she would other-wise not encounter.

    As for keeping focused in following a successful career path, Kelly looks to various Turner mentors  including Meaghan Hooper-Berdik, VP and GM, Special Projects Division and  Maureen Kirkpatrick, VP,  Operations Manager. Kelly is inspired by Meaghan and Maureen as they hold two of the top four positions at Turner, something that is rarely seen in the built environment.  She also makes it a point to join various industry committees for “grabbing knowledge and trusted advice”. She currently works with the CMAA, SWE, ACE, AGC CLC and is the Vice Chair for BWiC. Kelly believes every position, role and/or gender can benefit from the value of long-term industry relationships.

    As for giving her own advice to young women considering entering the industry, Kelly shares it’s not all hammer and nails, (although that’s fine, too) and that there are lots of other options. Diversity is growing in all aspects of the industry and there is a large support system to tap into.

    What really gets her excited though is the impact that she is making. There is great satisfaction and pride to be able to drive through your home city and say “I built this”!

    Thanks Kelly for sharing your experiences and contributing to our mission of Building Women in Construction!
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