• BWiC Profile Featuring Olivia Gardner, Virtual Design Manager, BOND

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    More and more Owners, Architects, Engineers and GC’s are realizing the benefits of virtual design in the construction process. Virtual Design not only includes all aspects of the building or infrastructure but incorporates the organization and the processes the organization team will follow. Because the model is fully integrated all teams can access shared data and updates in real time.

    As a young girl growing up in Westford, MA, Olivia most likely never would have imagined her career would be focused on this particular technology. In fact she was positive art and graphic design was where she was headed. She applied to Mass College of Art but her older sister, an interior designer at CBT at the time, intervened and opened her eyes to a path that would provide a broader range of opportunities. Through research and much consideration, she realized the Facilities Planning and Management Program at Wentworth offered educational programs related to spatial design and efficiency that could present a more secure career path.

    Her two co-ops were at BOND, and it was there that she was introduced to Virtual Design. Over her 5 year tenure at BOND her expertise and passion has since evolved. As the Manager of Virtual Design and Construction she acts as the liaison between the Design Team, Owner and Subcontractors. The role requires excellent communication skills, a deep understanding of engineering systems and the ability for creative input. Olivia shares one of the biggest benefits to VDC is that conditions get vetted out prior to production, saving significant time and dollars over the life time of the project. 

    BOND has allowed her talents to flourish through a dynamic, evolving culture that promotes a casual yet highly collaborative environment to attain excellence. Their new office in Medford, which Olivia took part in developing, encourages communication through open work space, and supports concentration with deliberate design of white noise and minimal visual distractions. Strategic break out rooms provide quiet individual or conference space when needed.

    Her biggest challenge to date has been earning respect as a new female tech but says “taking that extra step by being prepared to back up her contributions and learning by listening” has gone a long way in building mutual trust among her peers. BOND Mentors Chris Fogg, Director of  VDC and Barbara Connolly, Estimating Manager each provide valued career guidance and examples of keeping focused while maintaining a healthy work/life balance. She has also tapped into WELL, a women’s mentoring group that provides an outside source of advice and direction from experienced and respected female professionals in the AEC industry. She says joining AGC’s BWiC committee provided another much needed resource for herself and the industry in connecting really strong women that can share work experiences and mutual support.

    What she is most proud of is the respect she has earned at BOND in promoting her Virtual Design capabilities and a recent project for UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST), a nationally and internationally recognized research institution located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. BOND provided preconstruction and construction management services for the project, working in conjunction with architect, Ellenzweig, and project manager, Hill International. Virtual Design took the coordination process for this endeavor to a new level. Olivia says it was “a great team that delivered great results.”

    She says someday she could see herself transitioning to an owner/ facilities management role as her experience from the design side would give her valuable leverage, but for now she is quite happy where she is.

    When asked what advice she would impart, specifically as a woman in the industry she says to “Take that extra step, work harder than you have to understand the nitty gritty. Once you do, the knowledge and confidence that comes behind it will be the ultimate reward.” She also believes that if you are entry level and getting over-looked it’s because you’re not asking enough or the right questions. Seek out that person that has the information you need and ask-you’ll get the respect from them and learn something new in the process.

    It is evident Olivia has been asking all the right questions and taking full advantage of the experience of those around her to develop a full balance of valuable skills that will no doubt lead to a successful and rewarding career in construction.

    Thank you Olivia for sharing your experiences and contributing to our mission of Building Women in Construction!
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