Kelsey Simmons, 29
Project manager at MGAC
Managing the relocation of companies and the buildout of their new offices was no easy task over the past year because of the pandemic. And Kelsey Simmons of construction consultancy MGAC knows all about it.
“Ah, challenges,” Simmons said. “There’ve been so many.”
Items that she could buy off the store shelf pre-COVID were now taking weeks to arrive — to the chagrin of her clients. Take, for example, the project for the mortgage company Freddie Mac, which was relocating in the Dallas area to a 153,000-square-foot office and had hired MGAC in 2020 to manage the office’s full buildout. When construction was slated to begin, Simmons’ contractor couldn’t find metal studs, a basic necessity in the construction field. The solution to procuring studs was a road trip across the country to North Carolina.
Besides the supply chain constraints, leading a construction project during the work-from-home era is never ideal. Before COVID-19, Simmons would hold weekly meetings on site with the client, contractors and architects to assess the state of the project and work through any problems. But those meetings were pushed to calls since most architects and clients were working remotely, complicating decision-making.
“We could solve 10 problems [by being] on a site all looking at the problem,” Simmons said. “But now we were having to deal with someone holding up their phone trying to FaceTime.”
Despite all the roadblocks, the Freddie Mac project was completed in May — on schedule and under budget, Simmons says. “We’re problem solvers at the end of the day. [COVID] was a new problem that we’ve had to deal with.”
Now Simmons has moved on to her biggest project yet: overseeing the buildout of Microsoft’s global sales, marketing and operations office in Arlington, Va., a project spanning 190,000 square feet.
Still, the most significant highlight this year for Simmons was something much more personal: her engagement. —J.E.