The Future of Construction

Avree Bujaczek is no fortune-teller, but she can sense that the construction industry is changing.

Avree Bujaczek at the SAIT Alumni Awards on
October 5, 2017.

Avree Bujaczek accepts her SAIT Outstanding
Young Alumni Award.

It’s not just a focus on technology, innovation, and sustainability that is pushing the construction industry into the future. As the baby boomer generation approaches retirement, leaders under 35 years of age are beginning to be mentored for management and leadership roles within organizations, including PCL.

As vice chair of the Calgary Construction Association’s Young Construction Leaders Committee (YCLC), Avree and her counterparts are committed to understanding the differences in work styles between under-35s and baby boomers, and paving the way for under-35 leaders to excel in an industry that some might say has been slow to change.

When she’s not volunteering her time on the YCLC or sitting on the BuildForce advisory panel on promoting diversity in the industry, Avree is in her hard hat and steel toed boots on a PCL jobsite in Calgary, Alberta. As a field coordinator for PCL Construction Management, Avree contributes to the overall performance of our projects by coordinating with trade contractors and clients and building relationships. On October 5, 2017, she hung up the hard hat long enough to accept the 2018 Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

What does the future of the construction industry look like with millennial leaders? With PCLers like Avree Bujaczek, all signs point to very bright.  

PCL: When did you realize you wanted to work in construction? What inspired you?
Avree: I started out working for a geotechnical consulting company, which exposed me to many different types of construction projects, and I was hooked. What inspired me to keep learning about the industry and the Geotech side of things at the time was my manager. He saw potential in me and pushed me to do things I wouldn’t have done on my own.

As employees of the largest general contracting company in Canada, PCLers have the unique opportunity of watching our hard work being build right before our eyes. What is your proudest accomplishment at PCL?
I will never forget the feeling I had the day we paved the new runway in Calgary over top of the Airport Trail Tunnel, which I had helped construct the summer before. I felt so lucky to be a part of two major civil projects and was amazed at how they were incorporated into one another.

As the vice chair of the Calgary Construction Association’s Young Construction Leaders Committee (YCLC), how do you inspire other young people to become leaders in the industry?
Collaboration is a huge part of what we do with the YCLC. Every time we get a group of people together to have a conversation, everyone leaves feeling inspired. Encouraging engagement from people who don’t often attend networking events or might not feel confident in sharing their opinions within their organizations helps them realize they are capable of being leaders and making changes, however small those might be, towards a better industry.

What’s the most exciting thing about seeing more construction industry leaders under the age of 35?
The industry will benefit greatly from having a balanced group of leaders. It’s comforting knowing the future of the construction industry is in good hands as people with decades of invaluable experience and knowledge begin to retire. I often touch on how our generation can’t possibly obtain the same amount of experience as the baby boomers. It’s critical young leaders keep those contacts engaged and use them as mentors going forward. 

Working style, communication, and access to technology sometimes set the under 35s (U35s) apart from their predecessors. How are these differences shaping the future of the construction industry?
There are some solid positives and negatives regarding the ways the U35s have been raised to operate in general. The YCLC has been discussing how we can manage things like the never-ending inbox, work-life balance (largely due to the higher percentage of dual-income households with children), and the speed at which technology is always changing. We aren’t sure if these are positive or negative, but they are changing the way we work so we are pushing to find the best way to incorporate them into the industry. 

How can young people use their unique skills to make an impact on the industry?
It’s about being a leader in your own shoes, where you are right now, today. You don’t need to be a manager to do this. Find your passion and pursue it and you will be impactful. 

Communication is so very critical. If everyone took a few extra minutes every day to focus on being a better communicator, it would be an improvement. Focus on your strengths and communicate them to your team. This will enable you to work with people who can complement your weaknesses. 

What is your vision for the future of the construction industry?
My vision is an industry where owners aren’t quite so averse to spending a few extra dollars to ensure projects are constructed in a sustainable way that allows for inclusion and accessibility for all. It’s sounding like after sustainability, accessibility will be the next big push in the industry. 

How does your SAIT Outstanding Young Alumni Award motivate you to keep inspiring young leaders?
We get so caught up in the “busy” that we go too long without taking a step back to see what we have accomplished. Being selected as the first woman from SAIT’s School of Construction and the most recent graduate to receive an Outstanding Young Alumni Award was an incredible honor. Trying to balance three projects, along with my work with YCLC, BuildForce, and SAIT, can be trying at times, but being recognized in such a huge way added another tank of fuel to the fire that keeps me going! Joining the Distinguished Alumni Circle and getting to meet past winners, hear their stories, and see where they are today has been an inspirational experience, and I am excited to keep digging to uncover my full potential and the potential of those around me! My efforts to date have been my way of paying that forward, and I’m not done yet.