As the talent wars continue throughout the New England construction market, holding onto good people is harder and more crucial than ever for firms aiming to reach the highest levels of success.
Highlighting the best and brightest in the region, ENR New England’s Top Young Professionals competition is once again proof that good talent is hard to find. These nine young leaders are not just making their mark in the region—which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont—but on jobsites across the nation and the world.
Eric Nelson is a perfect example of a local professional who has honed his skills across the globe. After working in the Middle East for Tishman Construction, an AECOM Company, the Springfield, Mass., native has returned home for the first time in 20 years to build the MGM Springfield. He’s also helping MGM exceed its rigorous diversity goals. Greg Skalaski was a member of Shawmut Design and Construction’s first training program class 18 years ago. Today he is vice president of the firm’s $265-million retail group. As a senior associate at Thornton Tomasetti, Evan Lapointe worked with an innovative material to build a new park at the World Trade Center. Chris Fogg built BOND’s virtual design and construction department from the ground up. Jennifer Wrynn, Harvard Business School project manager, took a leadership role on a major project despite being only 27. Gilbane’s Karrie Kratz has not only made a name for herself in the education sector, she has also organized award-winning construction education programs at the schools she builds. Dewberry’s Benjamin Revette has completed some of the largest telecommunication projects in the nation right here in New England. Arguing in front of the Connecticut Supreme Court recently, Todd Regan of Robinson & Cole LLP helped set important legal precedents for the industry. And Eric Schatz of Arcadis U.S. Inc. has been a leader in the sustainable building movement for years.
Keep reading to learn more about these exceptional young leaders.
Builds VDC Group from scratch
35, Director of Virtual Design & Construction Services
Hired in 2009 to launch BOND’s five-person virtual design and construction department, Fogg developed company-wide processes for building information modeling and Autodesk BIM360. The Westford, Mass., native is on the leading edge of technology. Fogg was behind BOND’s purchase three years ago of a 3D laser scanner. Fogg says his firm was one of the first in New England to own the technology. It will be used on about 50 projects this year. “By bringing it in-house, we were able to take that data from the field to the office to the project and deliver it to the client under our umbrella with a seamless workflow,” Fogg says. An estimator by trade, Fogg has had so much success with 3D coordination because he isn’t encumbered by preexisting experiences with traditional 2D coordination. “I was able to really just come up with what I saw as the most efficient manner to do coordination and VDC to provide value,” he says.
Kratz excels in Connecticut’s education sector
36, Operations Manager
Gilbane Building Co.
Starting her career as an accounts payables clerk about 16 years ago at Gilbane, Kratz quickly rose through the ranks by proving her merit in the K-12 and higher-education markets. Kratz was promoted to operations manager for the Connecticut business unit two years ago and now manages a portfolio of more than $220 million in construction. As a senior project manager on a $92-million fully occupied replacement high school project in 2013, she won the Associated General Contractors of Connecticut 2013 Project Manager of the Year. Kratz says she enjoys public school projects because it involves bringing various competing interests and players together to accomplish one goal. But she also loves building “world-class facilities” for students who previously studied in “subpar” buildings. “Just seeing their faces on the first day the buses pull up … is really gratifying,” she says. Kratz also oversees several programs to educate students about construction, including the Maloney/Platt Builds Program, which won the 2014 Connecticut Construction Industry Association Community Award. Students in the program engage, explore and learn about careers in the industry through a six-part series of classroom lectures, construction site tours and one-on-one mentorship. Kratz has since run similar programs in other towns. She also sits on the Mentor Committee for Professional Women in Construction.
Lapointe pioneered innovative material for World Trade Center park
34, Senior Associate,
West Hartford, Conn.
Working from Thornton Tomasetti’s West Hartford offices, Lapointe often provides engineering services for overseas projects. However, he has had a more tactile experience with the landscaped structural elements for the $50-million Liberty Park at the World Trade Center in New York. The elements included an innovative cementitious material cast in thin forms at Coreslab in Thomaston, Conn. “I could drive 45 minutes and go to the plant and see how they cast this stuff,” he says. “It was good to be a part of something that was so new and that we figured out for the first time.” Lapointe’s team had to create the design methodology from scratch for the reinforced concrete-like material that was designed into curved shapes. Promoted to senior associate in 2014, Lapointe also works with middle school engineering programs in the Bronx and Hartford. He has made several trips to West Virginia and the Gulf Coast to lead teams of high school students in the rehabilitation of homes.
Nelson returns home to build MGM Springfield
37, Vice President, Project Management
Tishman Construction, an AECOM Company,
A U.S. Army veteran who served as a medic in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Nelson built high-rises in New York City, Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi over the past 12 years. The vice president at Tishman Construction, an AECOM Company, recently returned home for the first time in 20 years to build MGM Springfield, which includes a 15-acre casino on three city blocks in the city’s South End. “It’s a cool job,” Nelson says. “It’s very meaningful to Springfield.” Nelson is leading preconstruction and the enabling phase efforts for the $950-million project that includes complicated sequencing involving paving and utility work. Nelson took the lead in exceeding MGM’s stringent diversity goals in both workforce and contracting. More than 40% of the labor hours on the project are logged by women, minorities or veterans. The project has also beat state-mandated diversity hiring goals of having 10% of its contractors be women-owned businesses, 5% minority owned and 2% veteran owned. Before the MGM job, Nelson helped construct CityCenter, the $8-billion, 18-million-sq-ft development on the Las Vegas Strip. Nelson’s manager in Las Vegas, Jim Scarpace, says he was one of the smartest and humblest construction professionals he’s encountered. “He’s unscathed by tight deadlines, demanding clients and [is] always working to build collaborative teams on projects,” Scarpace says.
Todd R. Regan
Regan sets precedent at Connecticut Supreme Court
Robinson & Cole LLP
With 100% of his clients in the A/E/C industry, Regan has argued legal issues concerning construction before the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the Connecticut Supreme Court. In November, he won an appeal to the state Supreme Court that clarified how contractors file claims with Connecticut DOT. Regan said before the $13-million judgment in favor of the now defunct White Oak Corp., CTDOT required contractors to account for “every single nail and every single steel beam that they weren’t paid for,” along with stating “the actual legal theory for why they are owed additional money.” Now that he successfully argued that those requirements were too restrictive, contractors only have to provide CTDOT with the basic and general nature of their claim. “That was good precedent,” Regan says, “something I was proud of.” Regan also serves on several boards, including Connecticut Landmarks, which operates and maintains historic buildings. Regan helps children from Hartford’s underprivileged neighborhoods by serving as a pro bono attorney with Lawyers for Children America. He also volunteers with the United Way’s literacy program in the Hartford Public Schools.
Revette Grows Telecom Sector for Dewberry
39, Senior Associate
Since joining Dewberry in 2001, Revette has led telecommunications projects for large-scale transportation systems, professional sports venues and universities. Revette specializes in fiber optic Distributed Antenna System networks at challenging sites. Completing more than 1,000 telecommunications projects during his career, Revette has also overseen major installations at Boston’s Central Artery Tunnel, Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium as well as Harvard, Boston College, MIT and Yale. Assuming leadership of Dewberry’s burgeoning New England telecommunications engineering practice in 2014, Revette has grown his telecom team by 35%. Aside from directing his group of engineers and CAD technicians, he also performs on-site analyses of existing building/tower conditions and coordinates field surveys and structural analyses. He ensures that lease exhibits, zoning drawings and final construction drawings meet zoning/environmental regulations and building codes. Revette coaches his daughters’ soccer teams and enjoys mountain biking. He also renovates his home and makes wine. “Work-life balance is only achieved through the proper training and mentoring of staff who can then be trusted agents for delegation,” he says.
Schatz shows leadership in sustainable building efforts
35, Principal Claims Analyst & Director of Technical Knowledge and Innovation
Arcadis U.S. Inc.
In more than 13 years, Schatz has worked as a claims analyst, risk analyst, scheduler, estimator and surety consultant on a variety of projects with values up to $500 million. Schatz has provided risk management and dispute avoidance, mitigation and resolution on major projects for clients such as Connecticut DOT, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and Harvard. He has also completed work for Chevron and several large insurance companies. After becoming the first employee to obtain LEED accreditation at his previous firm, Grayhawk North America, Schatz set up training courses and study groups after hours to assist colleagues in preparation for their accreditation exams. He has also been active in several local and national U.S. Green Building Council efforts, serving on a steering committee for the development of a proposed LEED for Existing Schools rating system and he was a “sustainability advocate” who met with members of the U.S. Congress about green building legislation. Schatz was also the membership committee chair of the Connecticut Building Congress from 2012 to 2015.
Shawmut’s vice president for retail gives back
39, Vice President, Retail
Shawmut Design and Construction
Skalaski has come a long way from being a member of Shawmut’s first construction management skills training class 18 years ago. Recently named vice president of the firm’s $265-million retail division, Skalaski builds complex and luxurious retail projects that made Shawmut a player nationwide. His resume includes flagship locations for Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Apple. Despite routinely partnering with top designers such as Gensler, Peter Marino Architect, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Callison, Skalaski hasn’t forgotten his roots. He recently created a partnership between Shawmut and the Newton School District’s Mass 9 for the 9th. The program helps vocational tech students repair homes in New Orleans’ 9th Ward. Skalaski is also involved with the ACE Mentor project at The Hewitt School. The program exposes students at the all-girls school in New York City to architecture, engineering and construction. “I look at my career and I feel lucky that I fell into what I fell into,” Skalaski says. “I made a lot of good choices but I didn’t have a true mentor. There’s so many more people out there who could make a lot more of the right choices if they had a little guidance.”
Wrynn takes leadership role at Harvard Business School
27, Project Manager
Harvard Business School
Since becoming a project manager at Harvard Business School’s department of operations, capital projects and planning three years ago, Wrynn is routinely requested by name for some of the school’s most sensitive and high-profile projects. Most notably, she took the lead on the mixed-use 87,000-sq-ft Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center. Wrynn ensured the mechanical and electrical systems were coordinated within the Revit model for the facility, which includes two large classrooms, a 500-seat dining room, a coffee/wine bar and a large hub and gathering staircase. The building also has a loading dock and cab stand. Wrynn said she felt fortunate to be given so much responsibility on such an important project so early in her tenure at HBS. “An opportunity like that only comes along a few times in someone’s career,” she says. Wrynn also champions the business school’s Construction Mentor program, which places disadvantaged students on HBS construction projects for nine months. Several participants in the program have gone on to careers in design and construction. Outside of work, the Middleborough, Mass., native serves on her town’s high school building committee.