The Hawaiian Electricians’ Pension Fund project stands out for several reasons: Its innovation, engineering – and leadership. With Casey Tollman serving as project manager and Emberly Valgardson as the superintendent, the project is a rare example of a construction job site with two women leading the daily operations.  

“This was a breath of fresh air,” says Valgardson. “Working with Casey on this job was nice and everything went really smoothly.”

According to Tollman, the duo had a great chemistry working on the project that has led to fantastic results – the project is currently ahead of schedule, there have been zero safety incidents to date, and the team has received only positive feedback from the client, design team and subcontractors working on the project.  

“Emberly’s focus on the field and my concentration on the budget has made for a great team dynamic,” Tollman said. “We found a really good balance.”

While women still only hold four percent of management positions in the construction industry, Tollman is optimistic about the trajectory of inclusion in construction and is excited about PCL’s commitment to helping all people thrive in their careers in construction.

“I’ve had champions in the past, construction or project managers, who have seen something and helped me move up and get the support I needed,” she says. “PCL puts effort into growing their people.”

One of the biggest success stories from the project is the 3,100 cubic yards of concrete for the build, all self-performed by PCL’s concrete team under Valgardson’s supervision.

“If you don’t have the right people managing it, you can really elevate your risk level with self-perform concrete,” says Valgardson. “But we have a solid crew with strong experience.”

“Emberly took charge of all our self-perform work and did an amazing job,” says Tollman. “Her leadership enabled us to reduce the overall schedule by five weeks.”

Tollman is also praised by Andrew Fernandez, Operations Manager for Nordic PCL, for her collaboration with the client.

“The client has full confidence in Casey’s leadership,” Fernandez says. “Throughout the project she’s worked with them to be transparent about the budget and also collaborated with the designer to ensure their vision is becoming a reality. In construction, relationship building is key and it’s something Casey excels at.”

Cathy Orquiola, PCL’s regional vice president for Hawaii, Seattle and California Buildings, says the construction industry is always stronger when people of a variety of backgrounds and experience join the team.

“We make a commitment to each of our clients to deliver excellence, and that’s why we hire and promote based on talent – and nothing else. The Hawaiian Electrician’s Pension Fund is a success because it has the best people for the job – Emberly and Casey – at it’s helm.”