In honor of Women in Construction Week, this month's employee spotlight is focused on Laura Gormley, Program Manager for J2H Partners. Laura tells her story of how she went from being a graduate of the University of Virginia working in the banking industry to where she is now managing multiple projects as an owner’s rep for J2H’s clients. Here's what she had to say:
Can you tell us a little about how you started your career in the industry?
I graduated from the UVA with Bachelor of Arts degree and went to work in the banking industry – which I didn’t particularly care for at the time. Luckily, I had a friend at SAIC who told me about a position available in their finance department. I made the transition to SAIC, then not long after, took another internal position available in finance for our corporate real estate department. Long story short – I’ve been in corporate real estate ever since.
What has your career in corporate real estate been like?
I’ve worn many hats and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed my career in corporate real estate so much. At SAIC, I always took on new and different roles. Early in my career I worked as the finance administrator for the entire corporate real estate department across the country. I learned a lot about CapEx, OpEx and all the financial details in between of how to really manage a corporate real estate portfolio on a large scale. After that, I was promoted to Deputy Director of the National Capital Region’s division of operations. I started doing more project management and human resources and became much more involved with the company’s operations – from occupancy planning, space management, budgeting, culture management, and a variety of other things. From there, I went on to eventually merge the operations with financials to help with the company’s merger – not only figuring out dispositions and acquisitions, but also move management and how to keep our employees happy and productive during the transitions.
Why did you join J2H?
After SAIC, I went to work for JLL as an occupancy planner for a while, which gave me a good perspective of what it’s like to be on the consultant side. John Sadlik and Henry White, have always been good colleagues and friends of mine, and the right opportunity came up where they needed help on a specific project that matched my background and experience. I joined the team in January of 2019 and have really enjoyed working with everyone and seeing the company grow.
What do you enjoy most about program management?
I enjoy seeing a project all come together – from start to end – and working with the different project teams to build relationships that live long after the project is complete.
How has being on the owner’s side of corporate real estate enabled you to more skillfully do your job now as the owner’s rep?
I think just knowing the full picture of what happens after construction is complete and occupancy moves past the initial checklist that goes a long way. Having the perspective that it’s not just about good construction, but ultimately, it’s about the people – the employees, and how you create an environment where they can do their best work, while being economically responsible with the client’s financials.
What career advice would you give young professionals joining the workforce?
Surround yourself with people you think can make you successful and continuously work on your people skills. You may be the smartest person in the room, but you can always learn something from others, and you get further along when you work hard to bring others along with you. Reach out, network, make connections and don’t burn bridges. Also, a smile goes a long way.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to cook, read, go to the gym, and spend time with my family. I’m a big sports fan – UVA for football and men’s basketball, Giants, The Washington Football Team, Capital, and Nationals – I enjoy watching and cheering them all on!
I also like volunteering. Before Covid, I volunteered at a soup kitchen where I really enjoyed getting to know the people there and helping in any way I could. I’m on the board for St. Mary’s Hospice and on the committee for Festival of Trees (a fundraiser for Hospice.)
Have you done anything new to stay entertained during Covid?
We got a new puppy, Hershey, who is a Portuguese Water Dog. It has been a lot of fun playing with him, taking him on long walks with and training him. He’s a great puppy minus the occasional early morning wake-up calls.
What’s one technology or innovation you couldn’t imagine living without?
Honestly, Google. I like to cook, but particularly since the Pandemic, I’ve found myself searching for inspiration and trying to be more creative. There’s no app that can replace browsing different sources and coming up with something unique based on the other recipes that inspired you.
Who inspires you?
I really would have to say my husband. He works hard, he’s great with people, supportive, wonderful to our family, and is just an all-around amazing person. He keeps us on our toes, and he’s pretty handy around the house too.
I've known and worked with Laura since our days together at SAIC in the mid-1990's. What sets her apart from others is her thoughtfulness and attention to every detail. She doesn't just ask a question – she investigates it and tries to understand the context of the client's answer to ensure they're getting exactly what they need. Her experience at SAIC, navigating the corporate real estate challenges from the owner's side, has been invaluable to our clients, and she's a tremendous asset to our team. - Henry White, Principal, J2H Partners