Chief Executive National Strategies, Pomerleau
Project Coordinator, Pomerleau
It may seem odd to see love on a construction company’s list of values. But Pomerleau ranks love — the love of its people and the love of finding solutions to benefit communities — as perhaps its most important value.
“It relates to how we treat our employees,” says Francis Pomerleau, the company’s Chief Executive National Strategies. “We say, ‘If you build up your people, they will build your business’. So we invest in training and give them the opportunity to grow within the company. To be a leader, you need to have the best people and the best tools, and a good culture to bring it all together.”
Contributing to that positive culture, is an emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion, which also helps the company to excel at another one of its core values — innovation. “No matter where you’re from, if you’re a man or a woman, we want to make sure that everybody who we hire has an equal opportunity and feels that if they work hard, they can make it to the top. And that also helps the company to be a leader in innovation,” says Pomerleau.
Developing and testing new technologies
Pomerleau specializes in the building, infrastructure, and civil works sectors. One of the ways the company is fostering innovation is through its dedicated research and development team. Pomerleau’s Foundation for Operational eXcellence is a program that operationalizes change management, accelerating the implementation of all the company’s initiatives, including new technologies and management practices. The company also has a centre, PX3, to provide training to its 4,000 employees across the country.
Gizem Celik, a project coordinator at Pomerleau, says her leaders have given her every opportunity to learn and grow. “No matter what your background or gender, there’s no differentiation, as long as you have the skills and excitement,” she says. “So, if you can bring it to the table, you can sit at the table.”
As a child, Celik would ask her teachers how certain items were created. They often didn’t have the answers, so she decided to become an engineer so she could find out for herself. She completed her bachelor of chemical engineering and a diploma in chemical engineering technology. This led to her job at Pomerleau, where she oversees and ensures the quality of work on projects, leads project team collaboration, and communicates with building inspectors and clients.
Raising awareness of engineering’s impact
Celik hopes that the encouragement and support she feels at Pomerleau becomes the norm in industries employing engineers. She says that attracting more women to engineering will require raising awareness regarding just what engineering is and its wide impact on society.
“You have an opportunity to create something or to solve a problem to help humanity in all areas of society,” she says.
Building to make a difference
Another exciting project at Pomerleau is a testament to its leadership in innovation and technology. Last year, the company was awarded public works contracts to quickly ramp up the development, design, and delivery of four standalone, pre-fabricated “wards” to handle the patient influx from COVID-19 in Quebec. At Complexe Modulaire Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont in Montreal, for example, 36 rooms are being used for COVID-19 and will later become an oncology centre. The spaces were designed, delivered, and operational within nine months, compared to about seven years with traditional construction.
Another innovative project for Pomerleau is on the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, where the company is building a nine-storey, 750 bedroom student residence and mixed-use space that will be built to Passive House standards. The main principle is to seal the building as much as possible to avoid heat loss and thermal bridges. With Passive House design, the building has the potential to consume up to 90 percent less heating and cooling energy when compared to conventional buildings. The residence is the first Passive House project for Pomerleau GTA and is one of the largest being constructed in North America.
Being an engineer, and being an engineer at Pomerleau, provides amazing opportunities.
“Being an engineer, and being an engineer at Pomerleau, provides amazing opportunities,” says Celik. “Every time I drive by a project, I say, ‘I did that with a team of people.’ It comes from my decision-making, and my problem-solving. It’s something solid I’m leaving behind. And that’s my legacy.”