Stephanie McCay has had a vision for PCL communications since joining the company in 2006, one the company has helped turn into a reality on her journey from intern to director of U.S. Communications. McCay was recently named to the prestigious national Engineering News-Record 20 Under 40 list, which recognizes talented and passionate young professionals for their lasting contributions to the industry. In her current role, McCay directs all communications – including executive thought leadership, creative social strategies, external media outreach and crisis response. McCay is known as a mentor and helping each person who joins her team hone their craft and achieve new levels of success.
McCay will be honored at the ENR Top Young Professionals Conference, February 23-25 in Phoenix Arizona.
Below, the construction innovator shares her advice for young professionals navigating the industry and how PCL Construction helps her write the plan for her future.
When did you join PCL Construction?
I joined PCL Construction as an intern in the summer of 2005, did another internship over my winter break in 2005 and officially joined in the summer of 2006 after I graduated from Colorado State University with my degree is Speech Communications.
Tell me about your current role.
I lead PCL’s U.S. Communications department, overseeing everything from employee communications to public relations. I love it because no day is ever the same! One day I may be working with the Chief Operating Officer on a plan to share his vision for the company. The next day I’m on a jobsite interviewing an employee for a media opportunity. I am proud to have developed our crisis communications strategy – helping our company communicate with transparency and empathy during a crisis is one of my passions.
What drew you to the construction industry?
I come from a family of engineers: My dad worked at PCL for 43 years before he retired and my grandfather was a consultant for PCL back in the 1970’s. I love the industry because our work is tangible…you can literally point to something and say, “I was a part of building that.”
What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone just starting out in construction?
- Be an information sponge — you can learn from every single person you come across in your career.
- Advocate for yourself; if you don’t, who will?
- Don’t sweat the small stuff — sleep on it and see how you feel in the morning.
One of the pillars of the PCL culture is, “I built that.” What is something you’ve built at PCL that you’re especially proud of?
At PCL, we build the places where life happens - everything from office towers and amusement parks to bridges and water treatment plants. I am proud that I have built a communications department from the ground up that highlights and shares the projects that we build. I am proud that my team has contributed to building a culture that is consistently recognized as best in class and that we built a strong brand in our markets.
“Beyond the build” is another pillar. What organizations/causes are you involved with outside of PCL?
I have been active in Florence Crittenton Services, an organization that supports teen mothers and their children since 2007. This cause is incredibly important to me – as a wife and mother to three young children, I am passionate about providing children with the resources they need to thrive and have always gravitated towards supporting other working moms. I was a board member of Florence Crittenton for six years, including serving as the head of their development committee.
I am passionate that learning never ends and have been a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) since 2007 to continue to advance my knowledge in the ever-changing communications space. I am also a proud member of the Construction Industry Communications Group, where my peers at other leading construction companies meet monthly to share best practices and offer advice. We may work for competing companies but are always willing to support each other and learn from other professional’s experience.
Finally, PCL is always focused on “the path forward.” What trends are you following in the construction industry that you think professionals should pay attention to?
I have always been passionate that data should drive our decisions. When approaching a situation, we should start by saying, “the data suggests” rather than “I think…” We should be gathering and analyzing the data to help drive real business solutions.
We also need to continue to reflect on the impact of COVID-19 – the world changed in 2020 and the things that made us successful in the past may not be what works in the future.
To that point, I’m always evaluating our offerings to ensure we continue to retain and attract top professionals in the industry – even after 15 years with the company, I haven’t been able to find another place whose culture, benefits and professional development opportunities match what PCL offers me.