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Spotlight on Pat Burns and Nick Dunn 

April 2024

Northstar is proud to spotlight two of its key project managers, Pat Burns and Nick Dunn.

Pat has over 35 years of experience in the industry, bringing with him a unique perspective that has been honed through decades of work in the utility sector. His journey reflects a commitment to excellence and innovation.

Meanwhile, Nick represents the next generation of talent with four years of experience. He is driven by the pursuit of knowledge and collaboration, a core value of Northstar. Together, Pat and Nick embody the culture of Northstar and the Northstar Way, where every project is driven by talented owner’s project managers with an unwavering dedication.

Pat Burns 

What recent project, transaction, or accomplishment are you most proud of? 

Believe it or not, this is a difficult question. I’m not going to limit it to one thing I am most proud of. I’ve been fortunate enough to work in many different organizations and be a part of and lead successful teams. I’ve been told I could be difficult but always fair. During my tenure at Northstar, I’ve had the pleasure of working on some challenging projects with tight schedules, budgets, and great clients with high expectations. Being requested by clients for future projects and becoming a trusted advisor to clients are recent items I’m proud of. 

The other and more meaningful is seeing younger team members, whom, at times, you spend more time with than your families, grow, succeed, and continue to develop their skills and confidence. There are two in particular that I’m very proud of and am extremely confident will continue to grow not only as very successful project managers but also as great people and leaders of people with limitless potential. 

What led you to your current profession?

Early in my career, I was fortunate enough to work with some very talented, seasoned individuals who took me under their wing and shared their experiences. I worked with them on various hydroelectric projects on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers, eventually running my own projects. I quickly learned the value of critical path scheduling. There were tight timelines for the work, and it had to be coordinated closely with river flows, power generation, and environmental compliance.

The experience and project management skills I learned over 30 years with National Grid and its predecessor companies in various roles in different organizations gave me a great base on which to transition to my role at Northstar. I bring a different perspective to the team having led large regional real estate teams responsible for capital improvement and facility operation of over 8 million square feet of facilities and their associated properties. In this role, I have a unique understanding of how some of the inner workings of real estate organizations in large companies. I was a Northstar client (difficult but fair) on the owner’s side and having been in similar roles as the clients I work with, I can see project challenges from the project manager’s perspective and from theirs, enabling more collaborative decision-making.

Pat is a seasoned professional with over 35 years of industry experience. He brings a unique owners’ perspective having spent 30 years in the utility industry, which included facility-related operations, maintenance, and project management, with oversight of a diverse property portfolio of 8M SF. Pat was the recipient of the Corporate Real Estate Network of New England’s Regional Real Estate Executive of the Year Award in 2008. He is knowledgeable on all facets of project management including, civil engineering, real estate economics, and skilled in budgeting and actual cost analyses. An innovative and creative problem solver, Pat has the ability to deliver results.

Nick Dunn

What recent project, transaction, or accomplishment are you most proud of? 

I’m currently working on a project with American Campus Communities for a Cambridge-based university on the ground-up development of two new graduate dormitory buildings that will be delivering 675 beds and amenity space over 328,000 SF this summer. This is the first project I started working on since joining the Northstar team in 2021 when I relocated to the Boston area. There have been plenty of learning opportunities for me in a new construction and real estate market throughout the entire lifecycle of the project. Becoming more familiar with building in the City of Cambridge and understanding the proper channels of communication have really helped me to make strong relationships with the people I’ve been working with. It is extremely rewarding to be a part of a problem-solving oriented team and helping to facilitate bringing our client’s visions to life. 

What led you to your current profession?

I went to school for Civil Engineering with an original desire to go into the design field until I realized that it might not be the path for me. I’ve always enjoyed working with teams on projects, talking through problems, and creating solutions. When I started applying for internships, I always looked for project management roles and really enjoyed learning about different collaboration techniques from different PMs I have worked under. The more people you work with, the more you start to understand how to work with different personalities and perspectives, which is really important to the success of a team and a project in the long run. There are always opportunities to continue learning, and I think that is really what drew me to project management in the sense that no two projects are the same. Being able to surround myself with experts in many different areas has created countless learning opportunities for me.

Nick has four years of experience in the construction management industry. He has assisted project teams throughout different phases of the project life cycle including planning, construction administration, closeout, and program management. Prior to joining Northstar, Nick worked as an Assistant Project Manager with U.W. Marx Construction in Troy, NY and a Design & Construction Program Assistant with Delaware North in Buffalo, NY.