Construction Project Manager | CAREERwise Education


What enjoy most about what I do is it’s very challenging, but it’s also very rewarding.   I spend a lot time talking about things and doing things and putting it down on paper, but when we actually put it in the field and there’s something tangible at the end of the day, that’s what I enjoy the most. The focus of what we’ve been working on lately at the Minnesota Zoo is their sustainable focus.   The zoo has a great vision for their sustainability. They have a great vision for what they want to be and how they want to impact the environment   in a much more positive way, than I think zoos have typically been seen in, and I think it’s great to be a part of that. I am Joanna Slominski and I am a project manager with Mortenson Construction at the Minnesota Zoo project.   We are building a new penguin exhibit, a new bird theatre, and a new education space for the Minnesota Zoo. Mortenson is a general contractor. We help early on with owners and helping them coordinate and manage, and decide what it is that they want to do for overall project.   So a lot of our services include construction management, estimating, and scheduling in support of the overall project.   Our typical day starts before 7:00. We regroup, we get our day ready and planned. 7:00 we stretch; the entire group stretches, so all subcontractors in Mortenson. It’s away to get everyone together on the same page. We spend a lot of time early on in the day out in the field coordinating issues and managing details.   Spend a lot of time in the afternoon at our computer. At the end of the day the guys in the field are usually done by 3:30 but our day can go a little further depending on what we have to do, what we have to get done, and prepared for the next day’s activities.   As part of my schooling I went to North Dakota State University and majored in construction engineering,   and I think that brought around the I like to figure things out, I like to problem solve. I started in architecture, and I decided it’s not as much theatrical as it is the practical. So I really liked the practical aspect of what we do in construction and actually trying to figure out how we are going to build the building.   As a part of my schooling I took the fundamentals of engineering exam and I did pass. A part of that is after 4 years or 5 years in the industry you can take the professional engineer exam, and that is part of what I like to do.   On any given day I spend a lot of time at the computer. So a lot of what we do is work around computer systems.   So Oracle is our main process expedition we use for some our management tools. Word is huge and we use that a lot as well as Microsoft Excel.   Being able to read drawings is a very big detail. A lot of what we do is try to figure out what’s on paper, and how to get it into the field. Part of our safety policy here at Mortenson is 100% hard hats, safety glass, and vets; we do use high visibility vests. All of that is required. Work boots are required on a daily basis.   I know our focus at Mortenson has been to have an impact and sustainable impact on the environment and part of that becoming a LEED accredited professional.   So LEED in our field has a few different aspects to it. One, is we help the owner strategize on what items they can do and what strategies they can do to be more sustainable and more green in their building.   I think most recently there has been a great focus on sustainability. About 5 or 6 years ago it was heard of… it was something that people thought about.. they thought it was more expensive to have in their buildings and now they realize it’s more affordable. It’s more of a practice. There’s a long term reward, and you can weigh the upfront cost verses the long term cost. And I think that owners are finding that a great opportunity. So as a part of what we do is realize those dreams for them, and those opportunities for them.   I think as a project manager there are not very many females in the industry. It’s always been a pretty male dominated field. A lot of soft skills are very important, and females tend to have those a little more often than males do,   and I think they handle difficult situations a little bit differently. And the industries different now than it was 10 years ago. I think it’s great that more females are becoming more prominent in the field.   My advice to someone perusing the field is education. So first and for most, education… bachelor of science in construction manager or construction engineering.   That’s the foundation on what we do and how we figure things out, and I think a lot of the math and science teaches you how to problem solve, and that’s a great tool that you need to become a project manager.   So there are opportunities out there, but its finding the right company and the right fit. So you kind of have to have a drive for construction. Something unique, something hands on and being able to have that focus.  

1 thought on “Construction Project Manager | CAREERwise Education”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *