Tell us about your responsibilities as Construction Project Manager.
I like to use the analogy that my job as a construction project manager is a lot like being a wedding planner. I handle construction projects from beginning to end, ensuring everything is on budget, on schedule, delivered on time, and that my bride (the customer) is happy! In my case our “bride” is the COO at the site. Every morning I check my email, handle any urgent matters that need immediate attention, schedule vendors and work, and fill requests around the projects. I visit my project sites personally if there are any issues that need my attention, and when there is a big-ticket item being tackled or an important delivery. There is also an administrative component to my job. I submit and pay invoices, do scheduling, create POs, confirm pricing, and make sure that everything stays within budget. I meet with my customer at least weekly to make sure my “brides” are kept happy and informed about the status of their projects.
What types of construction projects do you manage?
Our customer received a healthy budget in their current three-year plan for strategic work, so we are busier than usual. We have several expansion projects currently underway including an Emergency Department and a Sterile Processing Department. We always have smaller infrastructure projects as well, things like replacing air handlers and chillers and various building improvements. I manage multiple facilities in our customer’s region so there is always a lot going on.
What has your career path been like and how did you arrive in your current role?
I grew up loving art and wanted to study fine arts and become an artist or a designer. My father, who is an architect said to me “It’s pretty hard to sustain yourself in the fine arts unless you’re Van Gogh”, so he encouraged me to study architecture, and I followed that path. I’m an immigrant; I began college in the Philippines then came to the United States when I was 19 and I finished up my degree in architecture here at the University of Illinois, Chicago. After graduation I was waiting for the perfect job in architecture to come my way and while waiting, I saw a job at my local health system for an AutoCAD operator. I applied for it and that’s how I started at the health system I still serve today. Over the years I moved into a variety of positions including Construction Assistant and Project Engineer, and then I was eventually promoted to Project Manager. During this time I did leave for three years and worked as an architect at a firm in downtown Chicago. During those three years I continued to work part-time at the health system, coming in several times a month to check on things and update floor plans, so after three years when I decided sitting in a cubicle all day being an architect wasn’t for me, I rejoined the health system full-time. I missed the hospitals and the people there and having a job where I was on my feet, moving around and visiting a variety of places as opposed to sitting in a cubicle all day every day. That’s the best part of my job, the flexibility and the variety. I don’t just sit in one spot; I move around all the time which suits me since I have a lot of energy. I love visiting the project sites and meeting with people. When I need some down time, I take care of my administrative and clerical work.
Which of Medxcel’s Core Values is most important to you?
I’m an artist at heart so I’d definitely say Creativity. The nature of this job allows me to be creative. I’m known for my engaging presentations and floor plans; I like to add some pizazz to make them as visually engaging as possible. When it comes to the construction process, ordering furniture and designing the look of the space is my favorite part of the process, that’s when my creativity as an artist flourishes and great furnishings are the cherry on top of the job for me!
What is something that you have learned during your time in this role that you didn’t expect?
I learned an important lesson from Matt Keahey, our National Vice President, Operations. He taught me a lot about handling the emotional aspect of this job. Going back to my wedding planner analogy, in my business there is a lot of emotion and a lot of people involved in projects. Matt taught me to learn to put aside the emotions when there’s a heated issue and get back to basics. What are the facts of what’s happened? Remove the “he said, she said”, and the “I feel this, he feels that”, get to the bottom of the real issue, address it and solve it. After resolving the issue you can put the feelings back in and then work with everyone to make them happy. That process has really helped me as a manager. Matt reminds us that behind everything people say is a story, and what you initially see is probably not what’s making them upset. Just like a wedding planner, I spend a lot of time herding cats, managing vendors, diffusing emotional situations, and working to keep a lot of varied people with many opinions happy. Just like a wedding I have to stay on budget and keep everyone on schedule. Timing is critical in this business. Some of my team members make fun of my wedding planner analogy but I think it fits and I’m sticking to it!