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How I Became an Owner’s Project Manager and What I Love About it

March 2023

Northstar is celebrating our talented female leaders during Women in Construction Week (WIC). This year’s theme is ‘Many Paths, One Mission,’ which celebrates the many paths women have taken to work in the construction industry.

We talked with three women at various stages of their career about how they arrived at being an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) and what they love about it.

Meet Janet Tse.  
Janet moved to United States as a high school cultural exchange student at the age of 16. She earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State University, and an MBA and M.S. in Finance from Boston College.

After volunteering to manage a water sourcing project at an orphanage in Zambia, Janet was motivated to shift from engineering to project management and to use her skills to bring a project from conception to completion.

Janet is currently working on a ground-up residential tower in Kendall Square for MITIMCo and a tenant improvement project in Cambridge Crossing for Sanofi. She previously worked on capital and operating projects for Harvard University.

Janet also serves on the Outreach and Scholarship committee of Professional Women in Construction (PWC), promoting diversity and supporting students pursuing a career in the AEC industry.

What does Janet love about being an OPM?
The versatility of the role which requires a diverse set of skills. From working on client presentations to managing budgets and schedules, reviewing design, and overseeing the progress of construction, every day is a new adventure. Plus, she enjoys collaborating with clients and project teams to solve problems and it is rewarding to see successful project completion.

Meet Katherine Kenney.  
Katherine has over seven years of professional commercial real estate experience working as an owner’s (OPM) in the life science and office sector for the entirety of her experience. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and Communications from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Science in Project Management of Construction from Northeastern University.

Katherine is an active member of CoreNet New England, where she just completed its Young Leaders Program and serves on the Programs Committee.

Today Katherine works exclusively as an owner’s project manager (OPM) in the life science and healthcare sectors. Most notably, she has spent the last four years working on Sanofi’s new North American headquarters at Cambridge Crossing in Cambridge. Katherine has assisted with the design of this 500,000 SF state-of-the-art research facility that includes tissue culture, robotics, chemistry, vivarium and BSL2+ areas.

What does Katherine love about being an OPM?
Katherine loves seeing a project from its inception to final turn over; working with clients to understand their real estate goals and then bringing those goals to life is the best part of the job.

Meet Denise Pied.  
Denise is a strategic leader with 26 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry. She worked as an owner’s project manager (OPM) for the past 22 years, focusing on tenant interiors and executing new construction, renovation, and relocation projects.

Denise is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with a Construction Management Certificate from Northeastern University and a Change Management Certificate from Cornell University. She is an active member of CoreNet’s New England Board of Directors and Co-Chair of its Leadership 2.0 Program.

Today, Denise still works as an OPM, but on the development side working with BioMed Realty on its Phase II project. BioMed’s Assembly Innovation Park, once complete, will be a world-class, urban life science destination. The campus includes three Class A lab and office buildings totaling 1.5 MSF, all surrounding a vibrant new one-acre public park in the heart of Assembly Square. The Phase I site is under construction and scheduled to deliver a 500,000 SF building in Q2 2024. The Phase II project is focusing on the schematic design and special permitting process for the remaining two buildings and park.

What does Denise love about being an OPM?
Denise loves the process of creating realistic and achievable project strategies for my clients, and then seeing those plans get constructed into reality!