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The Men of Northstar: Charting Their Course Over the Next One to Three Years

April 2024

After the inspiring words by Northstar’s women during the annual Women in Construction Week celebration, we turned our attention to acknowledging the equally significant contributions of the men within our company. We asked them to share their goals and aspirations for the next one to three years to celebrate their vision for personal and professional growth.

From advancing their knowledge about sustainability to building relationships to mentoring our younger members of the team, their dedication to personal and professional excellence shines through. With an unwavering commitment to embodying the values of the Northstar Way, our team is ready to continue shaping the future of being an owner’s project manager with their expertise and unwavering determination.

Join us as we explore the professional aspirations of Northstar’s men for the upcoming one to three years and learn their strategies for accomplishing their goals. 

Peter Arsenault: My professional goals are to get more involved with industry groups and to continue building my client base to generate business for the company. I plan to attend one monthly event and continue talking to contacts (architects, engineers, vendors, subcontractors, CM, and clients) I have created over the last 16 years in the construction industry to generate some leads. 

Jason Atwood: My professional goals are centered on delivering predictable outcomes and exceptional service for my client as we develop 275 units of much-needed housing for Harvard affiliates in Allston. To achieve this goal, I strive to prioritize clear communication, collaborative problem-solving, and listening and learning from a broad team of industry professionals. In addition, I am deeply committed to the growth and success of Northstar by fostering an equitable and inclusive company culture and recruiting individuals who possess strong technical skills and demonstrate a commitment to our company’s values and vision.

Bryce Avila: I aim to advance my knowledge and proficiency in administrative aspects of project management, including cost bookkeeping, schedule development, and project/portfolio development. Coming from a residential construction background, many major differences in skills and knowledge are required. As I get involved with more and different types of projects, I want to expand on and strengthen my toolset to handle the challenges the project team faces throughout. A big goal of mine is to progress to a point where I can work within a project team as a full Project Manager.  

Jerry Bosch: To continue to provide excellent service as an OPM and support our Harvard University Housing team with my field expertise. Additionally, I will continue mentoring the younger generation and, more importantly, enjoy learning from their insights.

Lee Burneson: My goals involve transitioning to a reduced work schedule, allowing me to have some balance between my work as a project manager and my personal aspirations. I plan to explore new interests and hobbies that contribute to my personal growth and overall satisfaction. I will remain committed to my work with the Northstar team and our amazing clients.

Pat Burns: As a seasoned professional, I have two goals, to improve and share. I strive for continuous improvement daily, although it isn’t always easily achieved. I slowly converted to a country music fan over the last ten years, and I find some of the lyrics meaningful. Toby Keith recently passed, and his song “Don’t Let the Old Man In” is part of what I strive to improve. As we get more seasoned, we tend to get set in our ways and become old men and women. Staying current with industry trends, learning how my younger colleagues think and act, and incorporating that into my work allows me to evolve/ improve. Being seasoned also means that I have made many mistakes throughout my career. Sharing any lessons learned and insights that I may have gained throughout my career with my colleagues is something I strive for daily.

Dominic Caporale: My professional goals are to continue increasing my knowledge of the construction industry and implement any new knowledge in my projects to make them successful. I would also like to improve my project management skills over this time. I am working to achieve these by staying curious, asking questions, and focusing on my current projects.

Justin Caron: With the current sustainability goals of many clients and code-driven requirements, having an OPM that is well-versed in sustainability, specifically Passive House certification, is a key goal for the next couple of years. Helping clients navigate through their sustainability goals who may not have gone through the process yet, is something that Northstar can be a reliable resource for. I am targeting a Certified Passive House Builder certification within the next year to help solidify my presence in the sustainability industry.

Matt Cichon: To continue to build relationships and expand my professional network in the industry through Northstar projects and industry organizations. I want to become more involved with specific industry organizations and eventually take on a leadership role. In addition, I’d like to continue working as a leader of project teams to continue to be a trusted client advisor and become more of a mentor at Northstar by growing and leveraging the extensive experience and knowledge of our internal Northstar team.

Chase Connell: As someone newer to the Boston Construction and Real Estate market, I’d like to continue to bolster my local network in the next few years. I typically make lasting connections when working with other consultants, subcontractors, and vendors on projects, but I want to join industry organizations, such as ISPE, to push myself to network in new ways across a more diversified group of industry professionals in Boston. 

Nick Dunn: I want to grow into more of a leader, both on the project delivery side and within the firm. I am working hard to not only think of the immediate tasks that I have at hand but the deliverables that are 2-3 weeks out, even 2-3 months out, to stay on top of deadlines. As I gain more experience managing projects and working with different clients, I hope to be in a position where younger employees come to me for guidance or advice, and they can see me as a leader and a trusted resource. By continuing to attend networking events and grow my connections, I hope to bring in business for the firm and prove that I can contribute to the success of those around me at a higher level than I am now.

Tom Fanning: To provide leadership and guidance to the management team as succession continues and continue to provide exceptional service to our clients on ongoing and future projects.

John Fodera: My professional goals encompass enhancing networking and sales skills alongside deepening my understanding of zoning and permitting. To achieve this, I’ll actively engage in industry events, seek guidance from seasoned professionals, and refine my communication techniques through workshops. Additionally, I plan to collaborate closely with my mentor and connect with experts in urban planning and legal aspects of zoning and permitting while staying informed about regulatory changes.

David Girard: To continue winning business and delivering excellent client service. I am actively looking to broaden the firm’s client base within new and existing institutional clients.

Dan Govoni: My goals are to improve my business development skills by bringing in and closing more opportunities and growing into a better leader, teacher, and mentor, all while continuing to provide excellent service with a client-first ethos.  

Tom Grady: I am looking to improve my marketing skills to help build our brand. Maintaining strong relationships with our current clients, meeting new potential clients, vendors, contractors, consultants, etc., and selling what we do to bring business is important to sustained success in our careers. I look forward to attending more networking events and meeting new people to learn about different projects around the Boston area.

Chris Guilmet: I have two main professional goals I am trying to focus on: improved communication and mentoring skills. To improve my communication skills, I have recently tried taken a step back on issues that arise and shift my view from my personal perception to the perspective of those involved. This shift in thinking has allowed me to articulate solutions or answers to questions more effectively while keeping others’ interests in mind. Improving my communication skills is universally beneficial across all facets of the industry, from project/company level to client interface and social events. During my brief ten years in the industry, I have worked with several people who positively impacted my professional growth and development. Reflecting on this, I hope to apply some of the lessons I learned and share my knowledge and experience with young professionals within the company. I am working to achieve this by setting clear goals and objectives, being patient and supportive in understanding that there may be setbacks along the way, encouraging independent/critical thinking, actively listening, staying committed, and being flexible in my approach.

Jim Hogan: My goals are to complete the construction of the ground-up development I am currently working on for a developer client and to start construction on the large-scale development I am currently working, which is in preconstruction.

Allen Marquis: I aim to hold our contractors and subcontractors to a higher level of responsibility, accountability, and cost control and constantly strive to improve project quality and value. I will focus more on the smaller details of a project. My plan to achieve my goals involves enlisting contractors and subcontractors who understand the nuances of working in and around Harvard University, pushing contractors and subcontractors early in the process to produce pricing and documentation, and asking for pricing in lieu of doing work T&M. Finally, I will avoid multitasking as much as possible allowing greater attention to the smaller details.

Andrew Pace: I aspire to attain the position of Senior Project Manager at Northstar. I aim to reach this milestone by collaborating closely with Northstar parents and senior leadership, enhancing my expertise in effectively managing projects from inception to completion. Furthermore, I aspire to take on a mentorship role for junior staff, imparting the knowledge and insights gleaned from my past experiences. By doing so, I envision nurturing well-rounded project managers who can contribute significantly to our collective professional growth and help them realize their future aspirations.

Chris Packard: I plan to continue leading the firm’s recruitment team and process. We will maintain our heavy investment in our recruitment efforts to ensure that we meet and hire the best candidates in the market, supporting the firm’s growth and our reputation of delivering best-in-class client service.

Gary Pelletier:  I aim to further develop my project management expertise by actively engaging with other project managers, researching unfamiliar topics through various resources, and prioritizing clear communication to ensure project goals and changes are well-documented. Additionally, I seek to stay informed about current industry technology and code changes by attending relevant conferences and staying updated on new methods and technical papers related to, for example, HVAC systems and electrification challenges.

Robert Pitaro: My goals are to continue pursuing and leading challenging projects, growing my industry network, maintaining meaningful connections, and leveraging my experience to be a collaborative resource and mentor for my colleagues. I am focused on achieving this by proactively seeking out opportunities to contribute internally, at Northstar, and in the greater construction industry through which I can expand my leadership capabilities and develop new skills. 

Christian Reigle: My current professional goal is to earn my PMP within the next year. I am currently taking classes on project management and different styles during my time at home to prepare. I am also going through the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).

Kevin Ruse: My short-term goals include deepening my knowledge of sustainable building practices, including a Passive House certification, and integrating a sustainability lens into project management. To achieve this, I plan to attend workshops, research emerging trends, advocate for sustainable solutions within Northstar, and join relevant professional chapters like Built Environment Plus and the Urban Land Institute. In the mid-term, I aim to become a recognized collaborator in sustainable construction, integrate sustainability into project management frameworks, and expand my impact through leadership positions in volunteer organizations. My overall strategy involves continuous learning, networking, and effective communication to promote the benefits of sustainable construction to stakeholders.

John Schena: As a firm and individually, we continue to remain very focused on our clients and their continued growth. Our client’s success is our success. I look forward to continuing to work together, providing well-thought-out, collaborative, and transparent solutions to Sanofi and the other clients I have the good fortune of serving. We are dedicated to understanding and aligning with our client’s business goals and objectives, allowing us to build very effective project delivery strategies as a team and individually. Our clients depend on the trusted partner relationship with Northstar, and it is very satisfying to deliver solutions that allow us all to share in continued mutual success.

Kamal Sheik: Reflecting on the past couple of years, I have observed significant personal and professional growth in my capacity as an Assistant Project Manager. This period allowed me to enhance my efficiency in executing responsibilities, deepen my understanding of the construction/real estate industry, and hone my leadership skills. Looking ahead to the next 1-3 years, I am committed to sustaining this positive momentum and striving for further advancement. I aspire to transition into a more proactive leadership role, where I can take ownership of projects and lead teams with confidence and efficacy. I am eager to embrace new challenges and growth opportunities while remaining dedicated to continuous improvement and development.

Steven Smith: Foremost, I plan to continue improving upon what I love to do: strategically collaborating with exceptional clients and teams to deliver successful projects. Additionally, I’m eager to further develop as a mentor, internally and through CREST. My third goal is to explore opportunities within Northstar that will enable me to transition more from production into managerial roles with greater oversight of teams and resources. To achieve this, I’m actively seeking avenues to bolster my management and emotional intelligence acumen through pertinent educational and industry programs, including potential participation in initiatives like CoreNet New England’s Leadership 2.0 series.

Andy Touchette: My near-term professional goals are to develop my leadership skills, internally at Northstar and, more broadly, within the industry. I am assessing ways to get leadership training that will benefit my career and get involved in organizations that enhance my industry connections.

John Townsend: My professional goals for the next three years include further expanding and developing specific market sectors that are underrepresented in Northstar’s portfolio. We, the Business Development Committee, are working closely with marketing to develop targeted materials for this effort and continuing to network with key contacts within the specific market sectors.

Anthony Warren: To continue to provide high-quality service to our clients and support and train our project managers to be the next generation of exceptional OPMs and company leaders.