A female touch to construction

The second article in a four-part series about women working in construction-related jobs at Dart focuses on six females with roles in project operations, the nucleus of the Development, Delivery & Infrastructure team.

At the heart of any successful construction project, there exists a central intelligence hub loaded with data that must be managed with precision and accuracy. This hub feeds valuable intel to entire crews of people throughout the life cycle of real estate development projects, from inception to completion and beyond. At Dart, this function — which the construction industry traditionally refers to as document control — is expertly managed by nine individuals, six of whom are women thriving in a male-dominated industry. Their efforts have helped redefine the department through innovation.

Dart Senior Vice President Design & Construction Gary Gibbs believes it is important that women take key roles in construction-related professions. He believes that gender inclusion not only challenges outdated stereotypes, but is also key to Dart's core value of innovation.

“At Dart, we’re continually striving to innovate,” says Gibbs. “Our female-led project operations team is breaking gender barriers and these women are also transforming project operations and improving processes throughout the department."

Senior Manager Project Operations Shauna Owens says her team provides services that ensure Dart meets project, departmental and enterprise goals.

“We collaborate with internal and external teams to develop and maintain solutions that enable the accurate and timely flow of information," she says. "Innovations in live site and real time reporting, the adoption of 'lean' principles such as value creation, and process-driven efficiency initiatives have transformed how the group operates. Whether it’s a member of our executive team who’s monitoring costs or a third-party contractor in need of a detailed electrical plan, we ensure that all can access project data quickly and with full confidence that what we provide is both useful and correct.”

Dart's project operations function has evolved over the years and is currently responsible for managing three key areas: systems administration, information management and process management.

Process management

Over the years, the team has spearheaded major process improvement initiatives for Dart, from implementation of workflows, automated lessons learned and planning applications administration, to the implementation of lean design and construction initiatives.

Owens says the concept of "lean design and construction" is a key strategy for Dart in pursuit of its sustainable development goals.

“This is a management philosophy that seeks to reduce waste and increase value through innovation, optimisation of processes and cultivating a culture of teamwork, respect and continuous improvement," she says.

Owens says these concepts play a critical part in her team’s daily work and process improvement initiatives.

“In the past, a project progress report may have been more than 150 pages long and understandably required considerable effort to prepare,” says Owens. “Today, that process has greatly improved through the use of lean tools and principles. Working with multiple teams during the design and construction process, we were able to develop a lean approach to progress reporting, which allows us to generate and relay only what’s necessary, so that stakeholders are able to quickly draw conclusions and provide feedback as they are consistently provided with contemporaneous, correct, useful and meaningful information."

Owen's says she's extremely proud of the work the team does. “And it’s particularly rewarding to work for a company that values gender inclusion and encourages women to participate in the construction industry.”

Information management

Project Information Coordinators Kimberley Scott and Rashien Petrie say their roles support a critical function within the department.

“It’s fascinating to witness how the intricacies of what I do play a role in the successful completion of any project, such as the renovations at the former Comfort Suites or the model room for the new Hotel Indigo," says Petrie.

Scott says she enjoys seeing the final outcome of each project.

“My favourite part of this job is taking a Sunday drive with my kids, showing them one of our projects and telling them, ‘Mommy played a big part in bringing that building to life.’”

Project Information Manager Setia Carlson, who has been in the construction industry for 18 years, says she loves the variety of managing multiple projects at once.

“We provide technical support, expedite and facilitate access to the most current information on all Dart construction projects,” says Carlson. “Not only is this essential, but it’s also very rewarding. I love knowing that I played a part in these diverse ventures.”

Systems administration

Last October, Daniela Davis joined Dart's construction team as a project systems specialist with multiple systems administration responsibilities, including technical support services for the various digital platforms used to automate processes during construction project delivery.

“Perhaps the most rewarding part of my job is helping people, which includes colleagues at Dart as well as external consultants and contractors, who rely on the many types of reports," she says.
The systems that have been implemented streamline the communication of valuable project information, including monthly and daily reports, submittals, drawings, specifications, requests for information and many other key items. A recent reporting innovation for the team is a new live dashboard designed specifically for Dart’s executive team that allows them to review vital stats on all company construction projects.

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This article appears in print in the August 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Andie Lumsden.

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