From Combat Boots to Construction Boots

When Albert Valenzuela left the United States Marine Corps in 2005, he wasn’t sure what civilian life had to offer, but he was excited by the possibilities. After seven years of active-duty service, including a tour in Iraq, Sergeant Valenzuela decided to trade in his combat boots for construction boots and joined the ranks of PCL Construction. As he started on this new leg of his journey, he hoped to build on the skills and success that he had gained during his military career.

Today, Albert is the regional health, safety, and environment (HSE) manager supporting PCL’s western offices, emphasizing PCL’s zero-incident safety culture. “I was looking for a career that offered training, a company that held the same values I’d become accustomed to in the Marine Corps, and the opportunity not only to be mentored but to use my knowledge to become a successful mentor,” said Albert. “The transition from active duty to the workforce was made easier because I found a company that values my previous experience.”


Albert, like many veterans who now call PCL home, was ready to hit the ground running and start making meaningful contributions when he joined his new employer. He started with the PCL family as an HSE coordinator in Phoenix and quickly rose to the rank of HSE manager overseeing multiple projects and offices. Albert’s commitment to safety is apparent in the training he gives, his mentorship of colleagues, and the innovative thinking he applies to promoting safe practices by all employees. “I’ve been able to enhance my leadership abilities and skills here at PCL, and for that I’m grateful.”

“We recognize the unique talent and breadth of experience veterans bring to our workforce at PCL,” said director of diversity and inclusion Kelli Kelly. “Our goal is to promote unity and inclusion in our culture, business practices, and community endeavors.” It’s this philosophy that led Kelly to develop the Veteran Engagement Taskforce (VET) with a focus on recruitment, engagement, and community support of veterans, service members, and their families. “We’ve found that service members complement and significantly contribute to PCL’s culture because they possess many qualities that align with PCL’s core values and guiding principles such as respect and teamwork.”


Moving from one’s military family to civilian life can be daunting, but Albert says his transition to PCL was “easy.” “I’ve been lucky enough to find an employer that’s supportive of me, flexible with my needs, and allows me to care for my family. I am proud to be a Marine and today, I am proud to be a PCLer.”

Read about two other sergeants, Brent and Kristine, who also joined PCL as part of their transition to civilian life, and about PCL in your community. ​