We recently had a chance to catch up with one of the newest members of the J2H Partners team, Managing Director, Jessica Buchta. We got to know a bit more about what drew Jessica to the industry and what she’s looking forward to most as she leads J2H’s new Richmond office.
How did you get your start in construction management? Walk me through your career and how you’ve arrived at J2H?
My dad worked in building construction and construction management his whole life. As a kid, I’d join him at different job sites and work for him on weekends. When I was accepted into Penn State’s Architectural Engineering Construction Management program, it felt like a perfect fit.
After graduating, I worked for a general contractor for five years, before switching gears and working as an owner’s rep. Then, when my husband’s job took us to Richmond, I began working for Dominion Energy, where I helped manage the construction of the new corporate office as well as other signature capital projects. I kept in touch with the J2H team over the years and we had been talking recently about the incredible growth in the RIchmond market. The J2H team had a number of projects in the Richmond area and recognized its potential for growth. Given my construction background and experience in the region, we concluded that I’d lead the way for J2H’s Richmond office. We’re just getting started but I’m really looking forward to what we have planned.
The real estate market has experienced some major shifts in recent years. What changes have you seen within the Richmond market?
We’re seeing a wide variety of companies that are coming to this area, from manufacturing and entertainment to retail and multifamily. There’s also an increase in adaptive reuse such as converting office buildings to condos and apartments. I think we have an opportunity to attract a diverse base of companies to this area. As Governor Youngkin said, “Virginia is open for business”!
There’s a transformative energy in the air and a thread of growth that you can see in so many different areas where people live, play, and work. This is a really great fit for J2H Partners.
What’s one of your favorite areas of real estate and construction? Do you have a niche that you’re particularly interested in?
When I was at Penn State, one of my favorite classes in the master's program was International Construction Law. The coursework was beneficial in helping me understand the law behind construction – change orders, claims and deciphering the language behind complex contracts. Starting out with a baseline understanding of those legal underpinnings has helped me navigate all sides of the construction business.
What do you enjoy about being a project manager in this industry?
I enjoy the collaboration among all parties involved in a project. It’s very fulfilling to work closely with the contractor, the design team and the owner, to ensure everyone comes together as a team. As an owner’s rep it’s important to have a complete picture of the whole project, to help an owner maneuver from early planning to pre-construction through project completion, ensuring that the owner’s end goals will be met. Project closeout is also an important phase to make sure that the building functions as it was designed and the owner has everything they need to successfully operate their space. I love shepherding that entire complex process and all the collaboration and problem solving that goes with it.
What do you do in your free time?
My family is the most important part of my life. We love to travel and had the incredible opportunity to take the kids to Ireland last summer for their first trip overseas. We also spend a week at the beach with my extended family every summer. It’s been a family tradition since I was a kid and now we continue it with our kids, too. When I’m not cheering for my kids on the sidelines of the soccer field, I love to read, play tennis and run.
Being newer to J2H, first impressions are probably still pretty fresh. What do you like most about working here?
It’s exciting to work with a smaller firm, especially in the role I’m in, spearheading operations in a new location. Being in a firm of this size allows us to build relationships, identify opportunities and projects, deliver best-in-class service and be involved in every aspect of a project. We’re a team of highly qualified people who are passionate about delivering the best possible results and client experience. The organization and our leadership give us the structure, tools, and autonomy to make it happen. It’s a great place to be and I can’t wait to help bring everything our team has to offer into the Richmond market!