It is no surprise that Laura Williams, whose parents were both involved in the construction industry, found herself following in their footsteps. However, with her wide range of interests and talents, a career path was not always evident.
Williams began her career with PCL Toronto as a project administrative assistant in 2011. Always wanting to learn more about ongoing projects, she took every opportunity to ask questions and participate in site and safety walks. Enthusiastic about taking on new responsibilities, Williams transitioned into an administrative role at PCL’s prefabrication and modular construction facility, which was brand new at the time. Three years later, she was presented with an opportunity to make the switch to operations and join the team as a quality coordinator.
Now a project coordinator working on a large-scale heritage revitalization project, Williams says she learned some of the most important on-the-job skills, such as document organization and relationship building, in her early administration days. She emphasizes that it is the people at PCL who have instrumentally contributed to her learning and career growth.
“For me, PCL is a place where people look for potential, nurture it, push it along and celebrate the success,” Williams says. “My PCL is all about the people who make the dream a reality.”
Over her 11 years at PCL, Williams has worked on a wide variety of projects in different sectors including education, transportation, revitalization, solar and health care. She highlights her time supporting components for the Oakville Public Library’s Sixteen Mile Branch and Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital as some of her favourite projects, as both involved coordinating the off-site construction of modular components built in-house by PCL.
“Laura’s unwavering determination to construct her own career path is a testament to her courage and can-do attitude,” says Marc Pascoli, senior vice president and district manager. “Her strong work ethic, and her ability to bridge gaps and inspire teamwork, set her apart and make her a valuable asset to any project team.”
Williams regularly refers to the core values she was asked to define when she began PCL’s internal leadership program designed to challenge employee’s leadership approaches and leverage feedback to inform personal and professional development.
“Modeling the way is the value that sticks out to me the most. It is crucial to lead by example and to go see the work being done so you can understand what the project team needs,” she explains.
Willing to share her expertise, Williams has taught courses in quality control and lean construction to other PCL employees. With three college certificates under her belt and one Bachelor of Business Administration degree in progress, she truly embraces lifelong learning.
“I never want to be too comfortable,” she says. “I’m always looking for what’s next.”
For seven years, Williams has mentored students placed on her project sites through PCL’s student program, during which time she has prioritized playing to their strengths. She was recently awarded a Women in Engineering Career Launch Experience (WIE-CLE) Mentor Award from Concordia University’s Institute for Co-Operative Education. Nominated by a former PCL student, Williams was recognized for her exceptional guidance through Concordia’s WIE-CLE program.
“Laura is truly deserving of this award as her dedication to the student program ensures that these future leaders are set up for success,” says Brendan O’Neil, HR/PD manager with PCL.
Describing the importance of mentorship, Williams says, “It is key to understand people’s strengths, identify areas they can improve in and then create opportunities where they can develop their skills. Building leaders is all about identifying what people need and making it happen.”
Williams encourages students to branch out from their defined roles and connect with people across the company during their time at PCL. She emphasizes the importance of having an expansive network to contribute to continuous learning and building meaningful, lifelong connections.
“It's the people, not the project, who are going to make you want to get out of bed and come to work every day.”
PCL strives to provide students with valuable experiences and real-world responsibilities to unleash their true potential. Discover current PCL career opportunities across all departments, including full-time and student positions.