PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog

From building airports to building innovation: A project engineer’s journey into the tech world

Discover why Jessica Pollack left a promising career in the GC world and became PlanGrid’s Lead Field Trainer.

As a child, I loved going to my dad’s architecture firm and seeing what kinds of projects he was working on, but back then, I never thought I would study to become an architect. I wanted to be an event planner: I enjoyed working with people, organizing and laying out a space, and understanding what fits where. Years later, when I took my first architecture studio course at Smith College, I fell in love with design and knew I had to be part of the building industry.

While studying architecture at Smith, I discovered my passion for green building. In my senior year, I was selected to be on the committee that would choose an architect to design a Living Building for the campus.

Jessica in 2011, working on the Bechtel Environmental Classroom

I found myself helping the architects create daylighting models to test the building’s orientation and figure out how many windows it should have. The Bechtel Environmental Classroom became the world’s fifth Living Building, and it has been functioning as a net-zero facility since it opened in September 2012 — meaning that it generates more energy than it uses, and draws solely on a renewable water system.

It felt like I was really making a difference. I was hooked.

Between my junior and senior year, I was offered an internship with Turner Construction, working on Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport with the Special Projects Division. Later, working on another project with Turner, we were looking for something that would allow us to find drawings and post updates to our team quickly — and that’s how I first discovered PlanGrid.

As soon as I started using PlanGrid, I realized the value of what we’d found. Whenever we sent reports to the architect, they were always complimenting how organized we were. At the end of the project, closeout was a breeze. To this day, they still mention how impressed they were by how smoothly that project went, and how quickly we were able to get them the appropriate information.

When I moved on from Turner and started looking for a new job, I knew I wanted to bring my knowledge of PlanGrid with me, and I did: I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on a huge hotel and casino project in Macau, China. During negotiations, I told them:

Hire me to do document control, and I’ll need to manage everything in PlanGrid. There’s no way I’ll manage the project using any other software.

Jessica Pollack

They agreed, and I signed on. I went into the PlanGrid office to discuss rollout with Tracy Young, PlanGrid’s CEO — back then, the company was still lean, so she was my dedicated account manager for that project. I left the United States with a bag full of iPads, and ended up living and working in Poland with one of the project’s drawing teams, getting documents into PlanGrid so that the owner in China could see the most current set of drawings — as they were issued in real time. PlanGrid was saving the day.

When my time in China ended, I wanted to stop by the PlanGrid office to thank all the wonderful people who helped me succeed. By the time I visited, I was already interviewing with construction companies around the Bay Area, and PlanGrid asked me if I would be interested in working on their team instead. At first, I was hesitant to switch careers and leave the GC world, but it was clear that PlanGrid was a supportive company; it felt like the whole team was family.

I took the leap of faith, joined PlanGrid, and it ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made.

I love my job. I get to meet other construction professionals around the world and introduce them to the magic of PlanGrid. Not only do I teach them how to use it at a basic level, but I also show them how to get even more value by guiding them through specific workflows and best practices. My knowledge and expertise saves people (and projects) time, money, and paper. It’s a good feeling.

Jessica in action, training an electrical company in the Bay Area

Meanwhile, green building continues to inspire me, so I feel lucky to have a job where I am helping construction companies around the world to do their part for the environment by reducing paper consumption. When I worked at Turner, I got to have that big a-ha moment: discovering how much time, money, and paper PlanGrid could save the construction industry. Today, I’m helping others have that same amazing realization every single day.

Author: Jessica Pollack

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