– The Ontario Construction Report Special Feature
Amanda MacLellan found her path into construction by chance and with a push from an employer. Today, at the age of 31, she is a project manager with Reimar Construction.
After graduating from a police foundations program, MacLellan worked as both a security guard and site office administrator for a construction company. Her boss there, she says, recognized her gumption, willingness to learn, and encouraged her to do more. “I would take courses, watch videos to learn how things were done because I wanted to understand and be part of what was going on around me.”
When she was 24, she enrolled in night school at George Brown College to earn her estimating certificate and found work first as an estimator and then as a project co-ordinator. “I was very young then, and a woman, so I had to prove myself to the people I worked with and came across on site.”
She then studied for and became a project manager. Understanding she was both more seasoned and able to speak from experience, her age and gender became less an issue. “There was still some push back initially. I was 28 and trying to give direction to men who were much older than me and had been doing the job for decades.”
Part of the key to overcoming this she says, was her willingness to learn from and partner with the members of her team. “They could see I wanted to learn all I could from them, that I didn’t pretend to or think I knew everything and they were happy to share their knowledge and experience with me.”
While she learned from them, they also learned from her as she streamlined processes, helped establish procedures and brought documentation up to more modern levels.
MacLellan has worked on several key projects in the ICI and multi-residential fields including the Bella Towers, Hamilton; the George Brown Health Sciences Campus, Toronto; PanAm BMX Park, Mississauga; Bridgepoint Hospital, Toronto; Halton Regional Police Headquarters, Oakville; and Metrolinx James St. North Station, Hamilton. “There can be a lot of travel in my job and since every day is different, I never know exactly what to expect.”
MacLellan is currently working towards her Gold Seal certification and hopes to work towards becoming a senior project manager.
She says she has been fortunate to have a lot of seasoned professionals around who have mentored and advised her along the way. Without them, she says, she would not be where she is.
“That really is key for anyone who is in the field now. There are a lot of people getting ready to retire and young people have a lot to learn to get where they need to be to step into those roles. They need to learn from who is there now and take all of the guidance they can while they are still there.”
For those who are looking at future career options, whether they are just out of school or considering a new career, MacLellan is positive about a career in construction. “The world will always need trades. I love the work I do and the company I work for. If you like to be involved, to have challenges, whether you’re just out of school or older, construction is a solid choice.”