This recent interview was done on a Bright Young Lady in Minnesota, who is making her career work for her in the Construction Industry.
Please share your name, title, and a description of your job duties and responsibilities.
My name is Joanna Slominski. I’m a construction project manager with Mortenson Construction, a general contractor. We work early on with clients to help them coordinate, manage, and decide what it is that they want to do for their overall project. A lot of our services include construction management, estimating, and scheduling in support of the overall project.
As construction project manager, I manage subcontractors. Together, we coordinate details in the field, manage schedules, coordinate construction activities, procure materials, and get everything ready and organized so that we can install a project based on the overall schedule. Currently, I’m working on a project at the Minnesota Zoo called the Heart of the Zoo Entry Project. We’re building a new penguin exhibit, a new bird theater, and a new education space for the zoo.
What is a typical day like at your job?
Our day usually starts before 7 a.m. in the morning. We usually get together and discuss the plan for the day. We talk about our disruption avoidance plan, schedules, access, and logistics. A good part of my day is spent on the computer working on contracts, doing change order management, and ordering materials. I also spend quite a bit of time in the field coordinating issues, managing subcontractors, and problem solving. In terms of meetings, we have weekly meetings with our subcontractors, foremen, and the owners. Each day, we also often have five or six smaller meetings to plan, coordinate, and manage our activities.
How did you get started working in this field?
I grew up on a farm in Northern Minnesota in a very rural area. I decided at a very early age that I did not want to sit behind a desk but that I wanted to be doing something unique and fun and hands-on. I went to North Dakota State University and majored in construction engineering, and realized that I like to solve problems and figure things out. I started out with Mortenson right out of college. I’ve been with them for six years, and so far it’s been a great experience.
What sort of training or education do you have?
I have a Bachelor of Science in construction engineering from North Dakota State University. I actually started out in architecture, but decided that it was not so much the theoretical aspects that interested me, but the practical application of those theories. I really like the practical aspects of construction, like figuring out how we’re actually going to build the buildings.
I’m also a LEED-accredited professional, and my LEED focus was on sustainable aspects of building and construction design. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. To get accreditation, you take a three-hour test. To prepare for it, you learn all of the ins and outs of the LEED perspective. I also took the “fundamentals of engineering” exam, which moves me toward becoming a professional engineer. After four or five years in the industry, you can take the “professional engineer” (PE) exam, and I’m planning to do that because it is part of my career aspirations. Having the PE designation demonstrates that you’re well-rounded and know the details of engineering.
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