Jan. 20, 2021

Strategic Leadership

Are you curious about how #projectmanagers influence and impact people and projects using strategic leadership? 
Tania Gharechedaghy shares with us how things change, including construction careers. She shares experiences from large to mega-sized project...


Are you curious about how #projectmanagers influence and impact people and projects using strategic leadership? 

Tania Gharechedaghy shares with us how things change, including construction careers. She shares experiences from large to mega-sized projects as well as why owners spend premium dollars on setting up Big Rooms (colocations) and some trends in design-build and progressive design-build across the Western United States.  Tania is a passionate learner and a positive role model. 

Tania Gharechedaghy is a successful Program and Project Management Professional with over 15 years of experience leading complex projects in the design and construction industry.  She has extensive experience in Aviation design and construction starting her career as a civil engineer and working up to the Owner’s Responsible-in-Charge Project Manager leading a $1B Design-Build San Francisco International Airport Terminal 3 West Modernization Project. Tania is now serving as the Vice President at the Lincoln Property Company where she enjoys using her strategic leadership and successful team-building skills in Real Estate Development.

Connect with Tania via 

LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/taniagharechedaghy/ 

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Sponsors: 

Today’s episode is sponsored by Construction Accelerator. It is an online learning system for teams and individuals that offers short, in-depth videos on numerous Lean topics for Builders and Designers to discuss and implement, just like on this podcast. This is tangible knowledge at your fingertips in the field, in the office, or at home. Support your Lean learning at your own pace. Learn more at http://trycanow.com/ 

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Today's episode is also sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI). This non-profit organization operates as a catalyst to transform the industry through Lean project delivery using an operating system centered on a common language, fundamental principles, and basic practices. Learn more at https://www.leanconstruction.org

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The EBFC Show Intro Music: California by MusicbyAden https://soundcloud.com/musicbyaden  

Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/al-california 

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Transcript

Felipe Engineer  0:00  
Welcome to the show, Tania Gharechedaghy
. Oh, yeah.

Tania Gharechedaghy  0:07  
That's really good. You know, I and I think I've told you this before I I sometimes I rely on the person who's introducing me to screw up my last name so I can make a joke about it, but it drops I won't. I won't make a joke.

Felipe Engineer  0:22  
You can pretend that I got it wrong. As I can I'll make a joke. How do you say your last name? Welcome to the EBFC show, the easier better for construction podcast. I'm your host Felipe Engineer-Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by construction accelerator that design and construction industries come up with and build great things. But we also build in waste in how we do those things, in our interactions in our contracts in our logistics. So what does this do for our bottom line, or our next project, the best firms maximize their value by removing that waste, and only doing what's essential to the work what makes them money. Construction accelerator will train you to see the waste and give your teams the lean tools and experience to remove it immediately. All online. Construction accelerator is made up of three to nine minute videos that can be watched again and again, in the field, at the office, and at home. All broken down by topic. need to learn pool planning, we have videos on the process, how to set up a room and how to kick off a team need to set up a target value delivery project, we discuss all the aspects of TVD especially cost. Or maybe you just need to brush up on five as well. We have videos on that as well. You can download and print reference materials to use on site to immediately translate watching into doing subscribe today at try ca now.com. Let's build an industry, not just a project.

Today's show is also sponsored by the lean construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone. Check the show notes for more information now to the show. wretched doggy, doggy was not exactly. Not exactly as good as you know. It's good. Good, good. Good. Yeah, don't don't let me get away with saying your name wrong. I wouldn't. I mean, my last name is engineer that gets messed up all the time. I think people see and they're like, what can't be. They'll say like, and good near. I'm like, Really? I was like, well, I've not heard that one before. Actually, I hear that one. Like once a month.

Tania Gharechedaghy  2:48  
I remember the day that I met you. I we met in downtown San Francisco. And I was signing in and I saw your name. And I was like, Did you think he was supposed to put what do you what do you do for a living?

Felipe Engineer  3:01  
For me, it's just a coincidence that it is what I do for a living? Yeah, me too. I'm more like a Tinker, Tinker, always. I always tell people, I'm closer to an engineer than a project manager any day of the week. Really, I tell everybody the opposite for me. That's how I said it. Because I was looking at your profile. And I was thinking, here we got a project management person all the way. It's all good. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  3:29  
We definitely need pios you're in demand and was looking for a job recently, because I'm making a transition here. So I got a ton of like, Oh, we need civil engineers, we need, you know, whatever. And I took PE off of my LinkedIn name because I was like, No, I do not want to use that for anything. But you know, like making recommendations for other people to go get therapy. But so I'm over it. I'm over.

Felipe Engineer  4:00  
Hearing no, I was the same way. I went to school for engineering. And then a friend of mine took me a construction project site and I fell in love and I said no way. Do I want to make these things that people are just going to replace every year two years. Yeah, at least it's gonna be hard to knock the building down every 25 to 50 years. Okay. That's true. A little harder. A little bit harder. Still not impossible.

Tania Gharechedaghy  4:25  
I built the project that got knocked down. Well, I feel like I was still closing the project out. So I've been there.

Felipe Engineer  4:36  
It was wasn't meant to be my worst nightmare. Tommy, that's my worst nightmare to be. You're there, you're there to produce the product. That's it. They were like just let it go. It's gonna be okay. Right, go with the flow. It's a new need right needs change and you got to change the buildings change to right So Tanya, the way that the show typically goes, I don't know if you've watched many of the shows probably haven't because you're not commuting. Have you watched them?

Tania Gharechedaghy  5:10  
A few? Yeah. Oh, a few. Well, I had to prepare for this too, you know.

Felipe Engineer  5:17  
I didn't prepare at all other than when you forced my hand to give you questions that I may or may not ask.

Tania Gharechedaghy  5:22  
Thank you. And I have a full page of notes on this side of my screen. Can you go like this? That's why.

Felipe Engineer  5:30  
Believe it or not, people love these types of conversations. I've get messages from people all over the world. Yeah. It's overwhelming. The people say like, I was having this exact issue. I heard your show and made a difference in my work today. Thank you for having your guests on. And did you hear the shows? I don't talk that much. You're gonna do all the talking. Right. So you are the main star. And that's why when I contacted you, I said, you made an impression on me. We met at the DBA talk in preparation for that. And then we got to share a stage together. And I thought, here's a person that has a they have it together. Right. You know, do you do? Yeah, your your impression. You're like so well prepared. I mean, just proof positive, you're over prepared today to shows? Well, my first impression was accurate. Here's a person who's very well prepared. And still is today. That was, what two years ago. And I think more pandemic time It feels like everything was a decade ago. Yeah, you landing, right? You took the IP or that off your LinkedIn and now you've landed.

Tania Gharechedaghy  6:43  
I'm going to Lincoln properties company. Right Thing from aviation real estate. We could talk more about that. Very cool.

Felipe Engineer  6:52  
It's a construction show. People know what's one.

Tania Gharechedaghy  6:54  
That's perfect. I'm really happy to be here. It's already been fun. Just the pre pre has been fun. I want to tell you everything about me, that would be weird. But professionally, you know, I've been in employee of San Francisco International Airport for 15 years, which is quite a long time for me, particularly because that's the entire extent of my career. I identify as an employee of SFO, or I have identified as a CFO for a really long time. So as we started to talk about a moment ago, I'm making a transition out of SFO out of San Francisco, or I was, you know, where I grew up and into LA. Now I'm living in LA, as evidenced by the palm tree behind me. But yeah, I mean, professionally, I am a design and construction professional. I've made my way through the ranks at SFO, which has been just really an incredible experience, and humbling as well as uplifting as well as challenging and all the other good stuff that comes with, you know, the lumberyard and organization. I love to lead teams, you know, it's construction a lot. And I bought, I particularly really love to lead teams. So that's why I'm in this.

Felipe Engineer  8:18  
That's why you're here. That's why I invited because I knew Okay, so Tanya, we met. And you're probably right, it was probably more than three years ago, for sure. My first impression of you is that you are well organized and prepared. And what I wanted to pull from you for the audience to hear, because we don't always get that voice of what do clients really look for in teams? Like, what is your expectation? I thought it would be great. If you share you've had such a long career at SFO, would you tell people that are listening? You know, what kind of air traffic does SFO guess and this is before COVID. Let's just use before COVID. Yeah, so give people just paint a picture. What kind of construction? how busy is the airport? 

Tania Gharechedaghy  9:05  
For those that don't know, I'm not going to say a number because that in my mind. I think it's like 60 million. But I just said at number nine.

Felipe Engineer  9:13  
There you go. Don't worry, sir out. And the comments are very kind, I promise.

Tania Gharechedaghy  9:21  
Well, I think SFO has to excuse me, because my you know, I've been in LA for almost a year now. I haven't been and with everything going on. I haven't been as connected. But SFO does a ton of activity. And we have been, you know, our capital program is like 7 billion plus and we have been just doing everything that we can to improve the airport there ever since I've been there. And I moved into I started as a civil engineer there and just really focusing on airfield horizontal stuff. And then I moved into project management maybe seven years ago, eight years. It goes something like that. And ever since I've been on that side of the house, it's been nuts. And I've been working on just really amazing complex projects with very cool teams, very interesting people, super smart people, and not just SFO staff. Certainly, all of the builders and designers and consultants that come and work at SFO are incredibly talented. And I consider myself really lucky to have been kind of like growing up and learning from them and with them on these projects. But yeah, I suppose a an amazing place to work.

Felipe Engineer  10:36  
That's busy. I remember flying internationally out of SFO, and even a couple times, nationally, from Southern California to Northern California, before I discovered other smaller airports that I can get out of faster. The number of people that are there any given day, it's the city in of itself.

Tania Gharechedaghy  10:54  
Yeah. And it's not a big airport. It's tiny in comparison to many. I mean, it's much smaller than LAX. And you know, all of your other big players Atlanta and DFW and all of that. I mean, we're, we're very small compared to those airports.

Felipe Engineer  11:11  
How many airports can say that you've got that beautiful ocean view coming in? And it is beautiful. You said you started off in air, the runways? Could you just tell me like, for a big like jumbo jet to land? How thick of a concrete section are we talking about? Is it like a human being? Hilarious? No. Always. Every time I land. I'm like, how thick is this concrete? It's not four inches with some rebar? Yeah, it's gotta be like something substantial. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  11:43  
Well, you're quizzing me now. But I would say you know, three to four feet on the run.

Felipe Engineer  11:50  
Yeah. Sounds like a small child. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  11:52  
It's like, okay, yeah. No guy or a little gal or whatever. Elders, there's different types of sub bases and all that other stuff before we actually get to the asphalt on top. So it's not all it's not all good stuff. Yeah. You're not supposed to quiz me on engineering stuff. 

Felipe Engineer  12:14  
And no, no, that's gonna be the hardest. That's the hardest question. I'm gonna ask No, but satisfying my selfish curiosity. I wanted to ask somebody that definitely knew and know you. You came through? Okay. No. And then what I did when I asked you is, because you said you grew up in that area. As you were a little kid growing up and eventually going to engineering school. Were you thinking that aviation was where you're going to land?

Tania Gharechedaghy  12:41  
Yeah, not at all. I mean, I, and not aviation, not engineering, not really anything that I'm doing right now. I mean, I kind of makes this comparison all the time. But like, I don't have like that one hobby that I love to do. I know a lot of, I have one hobby, and they're really, really passionate about it. I don't have that. So I feel actually really lucky that I was kind of put on this path. It's really clear path in my career, especially at the onset. And you know, looking back, it was, I was good at math. As an engineer, yeah. My dad is an engineer, and he said, Oh, you should go to engineering school. And I was like, Okay. My mother worked for the city and county of San Francisco. So I got my foot in the door as an intern, as a college intern at SFO. And, you know, the rest is history. It was like, I don't want to say this, but I don't think I was a very good engineer. I was fine. I wasn't like coming up with like, the best designs or whatever. And luckily, you know, airfield pavement is really not that complex. And it's kind of like defined by the FAA. It's gonna be this thick, and it's, you're gonna use this radio or whatever. But it was the people and the opportunity and the, you know, just the interactions that I got to be a part of that kept me kind of motivated. And in the work that I was doing at SFO, and eventually, like, set my target on becoming a leader and leading teams and bigger teams, and, you know, more highly functioning teams and all of that.

Felipe Engineer  14:33  
You're already well, on your way to being a team leader. Yeah. We shared the stage at BBVA. And you were talking about your experiences and high collaboration at SFO. And you've got you had a cool mentor to work with at the time. Yeah, you transition in the beginning, you went from, you know, doing calculations, sections design, and then being in charge of teams. Did you feel like a light bulb went off, or was it gradual or was it...

Tania Gharechedaghy  15:00  
Like instantaneous, you knew it was instantaneous. And it was really rapid growth. So it wasn't like, okay, so let me let me kind of take you through the trajectory. Right? Like I started as an intern, I got hired. Immediately after college, I became a junior engineer. So I worked for an engineer. And she was my mentor for like, the first seven or eight years of my career. And she was, she's amazing. I mean, incredible. And every person that I work for at SFO was like that, after I started working under her basically drafting before I even did, and then I started designing, and then she was like, okay, go, put out the RFP for this design bid, build the contract for this design, bid build project. And everything we were doing at the time, at the time was design bid, build traditional, yeah. And then I was managing, they were like, you know, 5 million, 10 million, whatever those types of airfield projects. And it was like a one person show, and there was no team really, but the contractor, and then my small design team. And then I was a design manager. And then and then then to the point where the airfield project I was managing were 100 million dollars. And there was a team and I was a design manager and the construction manager and the project manager all in one room, although that's not what we really called it at SFO at the time. And then I got the opportunity. They were they were starting up the terminal, one program at SFO, which is just a $2 billion monster of a program that, you know, huge projects, but also all of these little enabling projects, little, like hundreds of millions of dollar little projects, they did an internal recruitment. And I was like, me, me, me. Yeah. And I got brought over to, to build a firehouse, there's three fire houses at SFO, and another building, like a campus building, which was cool. I mean, I had literally never even worked on or been on a team to work on a vertical project. And then it was managing to, within a year, before I could even complete those projects, I got put on a terminal project, I was always getting kind of like, picked up by the color, and then like thrown into something into the flames and something that I had never done before. And, frankly, probably other organizations would have saved for more experienced staff, I guess, were more experienced, I think at the time, but as I've always just trusted me, and you know, they the trust, and the support that they gave me led me to kind of be a confident and competent leader. And the project outcomes were good. So yeah, as soon as I got out of the numbers, and AutoCAD, it was like, this is for me, as soon as I could start working with people to, you know, be strategically trying to accomplish something bigger than this, like very obvious specific project, which to me, that's that's how the airfield projects felt at the time, because, you know, I didn't work on very highly complex airfield projects, I don't think. But as soon as I was able to do that, and like start thinking more about strategy and less about the details of like, the pavement section, like, yeah, this is for me, and the conversations that I got to have with people and the 50,000 phone calls, I felt like I was getting every day from every stakeholder from around the airport, into all of that. I loved it.

Felipe Engineer  18:48  
I remember you were sharing early on, like, how many people you get to interact with just on the on the airport side, it was like, you know, bigger than, like a family gathering with the people every day like 100 plus stakeholders. Yeah.

Tania Gharechedaghy  19:03  
I mean, we, you know, I mean, you've probably seen Jeff do his roadshow about our project delivery methods. We have a very detailed stakeholder engagement process at SF. And you know, it's specific, we don't just do stakeholder engagement. I mean, you have to create a stakeholder matrix, you have specific meetings that you're going to set up. It's, you know, it's really thorough and well thought out. And, you know, that really allows you to see the type of interactions that you have on a day to day because on a on a project, like the one that I was just on the billion dollar terminal renovation. There were literally hundreds of people from around the airport that I had to answer to on a day to day basis. 

Felipe Engineer  19:47  
And I like that tip my hat to Tania for being so well organized and navigating so many people you know, it helps being somewhere for 15 years and knowing everybody for sure. It probably feels like family, like you said uou still consider yourself apart.

Tania Gharechedaghy  20:01  
It's hard to say goodbye to that kind of group of people t.at have kind of ushered me through so much of my career and my life really

Felipe Engineer  20:09  
Almost two decades. That's quite a lot. Yeah, I want to hear about this big giant job you were doing last Brad White, who was on that panel with us. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  20:18  
From Gensler, we were on that project together the monster project, we called it the monster project. because number one, a when we went through like a year and a half of just programming, we didn't even get ourselves into design, because it was like how we really want to do this project became a billion dollars, I think it's like 700,000, or something. But it became a billion dollar project to innovate a portion of terminal three, which is many people know, United Airlines does, like 60% of our traffic at SFO. So airline and an important tenant and client for us, they have a lot of say, in how we the projects, for sure. So it was a cool, really interesting dynamic for me to be working with such a heavy hitter of a stakeholder I think with united in addition to so united is like hundreds of people I united, in addition to the people that you know, we work with on at SFO on a day to day basis. So it was it was a good one. And unfortunately, t through us did get put on hold for now. Because of COVID. everybody's having to make decisions about how money gets spent at the moment, we've got to go practice and visit you in your big room. And the big room for that job is an airport hangar. That's actually the terminal one job. That's Well, yeah, we actually we have a terminal three project had an office inside of terminal three, and it's, uh, you know, not nowhere near as big and fancy. But certainly, you know, in concept, everybody's, they're stuck in the room together, presume eventually, we could have used the big room, the T one at some point, but it was still going on. So we had to find our own way.

Felipe Engineer  22:06  
I remember there were two project teams sharing that space. Yeah. Why would an owner want everyone to be under one roof? From your perspective?

Tania Gharechedaghy  22:14  
I mean, the you, you cannot duplicate that type of collaboration in any other way. I mean, you simply can't. Right. Like the just the simplicity of people just being there, right. Like, even if you weren't doing anything that day, that was like particularly complex or amazing. It's not a milestone day or week or month, or whatever. You can duplicate the cooperation and really the relationship building that comes out of people just being in a room together, right, like the happenstance stuff, and the conversations and getting coffee in the same place. And even even the hearing people getting coffee from across the hanger thing where it's like, oh, I see those two are talking, I needed to get both of them about this thing that happened in a meeting, or I needed to get both of them about do they want to go to happy hour with me later? You know, it's just the relationship building. And the level of collaboration is, is great. And you know, there are a lot of challenges with working in that type of environment too. And you hear it a lot with just like the open office space. concept, right? A lot of it is it's hard to stay focused. Sometimes it's, you know, sometimes you want to have a private conversation, and you can't sometimes you just, you know, you want to eat your lunch at your desk. And it's not something everybody wants to smell or whatever. So there are challenges, but I think that that certainly the benefits outweigh those challenges, at least in in this situation they have.

Felipe Engineer  23:55  
Because, I mean, you're doing such large work and you're making an investment to bring everyone together versus being separate. Yeah. On the project you were on last you said it was over a billion was when it grew to be inside of the terminal three office space, how many people were sharing, roughly in the same space? 

Tania Gharechedaghy  24:14  
Being collaborative, we probably had at the peak 100 people. Wow. So the team was significantly smaller than terminal one.

Felipe Engineer  24:25  
Oh, that's still big. 100 people under one one roof sharing the space is still gigantic. Yeah.

Tania Gharechedaghy  24:30  
I mean, in addition to so I was the airport's project manager. There were two of us on the project. And then you know, our cm team was like 20 people and then the design build team and design build team came with all of their sub contractors. So the course of contractors were all in the room with us. So you know, we were all there. You we even got like an import duty manager to live up there with us. We got someone from the electric shop eventually to live up there with us so that we can do you know, quick electrical shutdowns and things like that, it's great.

Felipe Engineer  25:07  
It's not free, and a lot of owners have to make an investment I've seen like even just to have a, you're doing a construction project on a Greenfield or Brownfield and you're the general contractor and the trades want to bring their trailer complex isn't set up, to make this dedicated space where you bring in people under the same roof, you could be spending, you know, up to $100,000, to create that shared space where people come together. And some owners don't think it's as valuable. Yeah.

Are you you mentioned outcomes on your jobs? What kind of outcomes are you seeing on these high collaboration projects, versus what you're hearing from the industry people and other types of using other methods?

Tania Gharechedaghy  25:46  
Um, you know, it's hard to say, you know, two, three West, we didn't get to finish t through us, which is, you know, a bummer. And, you know, I hear a lot of great things about what's happening out in the industry these days, especially with, with most owners in most industries moving into design builds, I think that equally or maybe more, so I don't know,It's not a number. I'm seeing more something that called the colocation. The progressive design build delivery method has really, really helped the collaboration on project teams. Right. And I, I don't know, I can't even remember how to I don't know why we ever did design bid build. And I do know why. And so projects are best right? project, some really straightforward projects, like the airfield projects that I was on my career, but it's not right, for most complex projects. Yeah, I think design, the the design, build progressive design, build delivery is contributing a lot to the success and the collaboration on a lot of these bigger complex projects, certainly the big rooms and the colocation and bringing on core subcontractors early. Really, really important. I mean, we get so much value. In the early stages, like I, like I mentioned, you know, we were in programming for t three West terminal through west for over a year. And it was worth every minute. Because when we got the right people to the table, and we really, you know, took the time to develop the cost model early and accurately. define the scope accurately define the scope. accurately, we thought, but you know, things happen in the world lead. Then, when we jumped into design, we could get right to it. And it eliminated a lot of the questions and and it allowed us to focus on putting out a really exceptional product.

Felipe Engineer  27:50  
Yeah, no, thank you for that. That collaboration is that it's like a loaded word. But you said, you're creating an environment where people can be there, they see each other and, oh, there's an opportunity that we could talk, you know, versus sending your 55th email, or your 1001 phone call.

Tania Gharechedaghy  28:09  
Right? Oh, emails are like the killer of collaboration? Yes, killer.

Felipe Engineer  28:18  
Yeah, I'm a huge fan of things that we can do to minimize, I saw that you had a design build Institute of America badge on your profile? Did you get special training for that? How did you?

Tania Gharechedaghy  28:31  
Yes, I did. Um, so dbia does a ton of educational courses. And because we do so much design, build and progressive design, build it at SFO, I felt like it was worthwhile would be worthwhile for me to to get certified. As it's becoming so prevalent in the industry, I thought it would be, you know, a good investment for me personally, as well as for SFO at the time. But dbia does have a ton of education courses. We are on this project. For t three West, we made it a point to make sure that people had every opportunity to grow in their careers, it was to us was meant to be a five year project, right? For all going to be sitting in a room together for five years. And hopefully, you know, the person who started as an office engineer and your one was not going to be an office engineer your five hopefully they were going to be a you know, construction manager or a project manager or something. So we were always looking for ways on our team and huge team again, to find ways to continue the individuals development on our team. And one of the ways we thought was let's get everybody design build certified. So our design builder came and they bought it package and I came to the office and we all learn together, we did a we did like two or four or six days of workshops, or whatever it was, it was really long. And we did these workshops together as a team, and we did it in two sessions. So, you know, we had like 20, or 30 people in the first session, and then 20 or 30 people in the next session, some people weren't interested, some people you know how to had done it already, or whatever, it wasn't appropriate for them. But we did it in two sessions. So you do the workshop, you submit an application, you take a test, and you're EPA certified.

Felipe Engineer  30:40  
Just like that, like that. You could use each other during the test to help you know, you know, you, you have to go to like, what are those testing centers, I like the idea of you're doing it with your team, that's really cool.

Tania Gharechedaghy  30:51  
That's the best part about it. Not only was it team building, because we can, you know, walk into the room and be like, no offense to the education or whatever. But you could walk into the room in the morning and be like, another hour, this or whatever. But it was team building in it. It also showed my team that we were invested in them individually. because, frankly, at that point, it did nothing for the T three West project, it didn't matter, right, like we were already doing design build, we already have processes that were following it, it really did nothing for the project, you know, in the technical sense, but it made the staff understand that we were invested in their personal growth and that what they were doing with us was important and what they wanted to do next in their careers is important. And you know, we're paying attention to that.

Felipe Engineer  31:43  
Would you say that, like the people that they went through those sessions were? Obviously if they'd already had it before, they didn't do it again, they're going for the first time. I mean, that's a skill that they can take with them, if they work outside of this. And as long as you're not going back to traditional, if they're so lucky. And it looks like in the market, we see way more design build and progressive design build continuing to increase? Yeah, more and more asking for it. Yeah. So they can certainly take it with them. Yeah, you're taking those skills with you. Right? That's right. So you mentioned this learning and taking these skills forward. And I think what it really hones in on something that I love myself is this idea of continuous learning. So learning for you, your lifelong student, I think I also saw that you got some special project manager training earlier in your career, you haven't even mentioned would you like, you know, to share a little bit about what did you learn there that was different from engineering school, I was just gonna say broad strokes, so I'm not going to quit. I talk to your professors, Tanya, and hold on. I'm getting a call right now it's on your professors on.

Tania Gharechedaghy  32:54  
It's so funny. Um, I am kind of a continuing education weirdo. Right now I'm taking real estate courses at the local junior college. And it doesn't, I don't think that it's necessarily gonna, it's not gonna be a one for one application to the work that I'm gonna do. For sure. Well, two things, the the effect of COVID making me stay inside was like, gotta do something to keep my brain moving. And then also, I just wanted to be able to walk into my next position and, and know, some key real estate terms at a minimum, right. So I'm doing that now. But yes, I also have a PMP project management certification. I took a series of courses at San Francisco State, and which was great. The airport has, SFO has a really good reimbursement program. So you know, it didn't, it was pretty much taken care of, as long as they did my schoolwork. And, you know, the program yesterday started. The classes were really good. I mean, they weren't like earth shattering. I don't think that I learned something every single day or every single session that I was in, but I met a lot of people and and the people in my classes were not all in design and construction, they were in all kinds of different things like filmmaking, and one person was like an event planner, and you know, whatever, all of the all the different types of projects that you can do in the world. And so he wanted a series of classes at San Francisco State and then again, I took a test again, I wanted testing facilities, serious. And I got my PMP and I did it at the time because I when I did, it was when I I was still an engineer, a junior engineer or, you know, whatever level of engineering I was at at that my junior and I had a little bit of foresight about the opportunities to go into the project management department at SFO. And I think I've our shadows, the airport director at the time, I think he sent out an email that was like, if anybody wants to do this, go do it. And I was like, I'll do it. Um, so then when the opportunity came up, the internal recruitment at SFO came up. I was like, Oh, look, I'm also doing this in the meantime. And they were like, okay, you gotta you got a little bit of you, you're motivated, shot or whatever. 

Felipe Engineer  35:45  
Just got a sharp PMP edge. Yeah, really cool. And I think you know, for a lot of people that don't know, you, too. Well, she's extremely humble. And it's coming across. But I know you I know, people say, really good things about you. I talked to Brad, not even two months ago, and he's still fondly talking about the times that you guys got to work together. Yeah, I think this is, there you go for a quick shout out from Fred white. He said.

Tania Gharechedaghy  36:17  
Well, thank you, Brad, for, and he, you know, he knows that I will say the same thing about him. You know, at the onset of the project, I think we were all like, Oh my God, we get to leave this monster of a project. This is amazing. Spent a lot of time sitting around small tables together, learning from each other and being like, I don't know what to do right now. Like, what do we think we should do as a team to get past this really hard challenge, because not one of the four of us had ever done it. And it was like, okay, you get you go check with your network, I'm gonna check with my network. And let's get back together and decide what to do. So, you know, I, as much as I appreciate Brad saying, very kind things for me. You know, it goes both ways. He was an amazing partner on our project, and so many, so much amazing leadership on that project, and the projects that I've been on, and the team was just incredible. 

Felipe Engineer  37:20  
So we're still humble even the way you set it now, Tanya, it's still anyone listening. You know, Tom, tell Tania in the comments that I'm not the only one. But I really like your you're really passionate about learning for learning sake, because you never know you want to be ready. One of the people that that, you know that I was indirectly mentored by William Edwards, Deming, and he used to always tell people that you should encourage anyone in your organization to learn because you never know, where creativity is gonna spark that. It's just, it's just good to do. And it doesn't have to always be, you know, at a school formal, it could also be at a book. It could be a podcast, it could be a YouTube video, University of YouTube, a lot of people attended every day. Yes.

Tania Gharechedaghy  38:10  
Yeah. You know, one, one thing I think that people don't think of as learning is just the day to day connections that you, which would, why would you say Come be on a podcast? I was like, yeah, hell yeah, I'll do a podcast, you know, learn from you. Hopefully, you learn something from me. But it's, and I think that people will, I think people will back me up. And people see this in the way that I go about my day or my the way that I interact with people, but it don't rush through a conversation. Don't rush across the office. I mean, every time you have the opportunity to connect with another person, is like, there's so much potential there, right? Like, how much can you learn just from, hey, how do you feel this morning or whatever, what you know, any conversation that you have, no matter how short or long it is, if you give it kind of the time and, and, you know, cherish the potential of what could come out of anything, right? You could, I could learn from you, you could learn from me, we could learn from each other, I could open up a whole new career opportunity or a new kind of STEM in my brain where it's like, oh, well actually now I want to do real estate instead of aviation or all kinds of different potentials come out of those, those little connections. So like you were saying, you know, education doesn't have to be formal. You can educate yourself from every little conversation that you have throughout a day.

Felipe Engineer  39:54  
My favorite is personal. That's why I do the show. Because the people that come on and share with Me and with everybody that listens enriches all of us, the more I mean, I'm first I get enrichment. don't edit out anything good. I know, I won't tell the editing team like I better that gem better show up, or else off to ask you nicely to please do a second.

Tania Gharechedaghy  40:20  
Totally fine. I have noticed that I've said, whatever a lot in this conversation, I'm not sure why I haven't really, that's not really my style. So I edit out any of those.

Felipe Engineer  40:31  
It hasn't even hit my radar yet. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  40:33  
So we'll start that every time you say whatever, we'll do a little bit. And you know, I think hopefully, calling myself out will help me to stop doing it.

Felipe Engineer  40:43  
I don't think you're gonna I mean, one. thing. So, yeah, no, no, not it. Yeah. So you, you did make a big change. I mean, you're conceivably, if you're going to heaven forbid, retire someday, you're not even halfway through? Like, first of all, I don't, I'm never gonna retire. So it's really interesting. The type of work that I do, as long as there's people involved that can't see not there. But that's just me. Now, for you. I mean, you could argue that you're almost at the, you're at a significant part of your career, like you're almost in the middle. If I just do the math and pencil it out. You make an a big shift, going from aviation to real estate. Yeah. How did you? I don't think you just woke up one day and said, No way I did it. Was it How did that happen? Um, a few contributing factors. As I've mentioned, as everybody knows, I've been with SFO for a really long time. It's a great place to work. And besides it being a great place to work, it's, it's a government job. So there are a lot of really fantastic benefits that make it, you know, easy to stay stable for a really, really long time. You know, the benefits are fantastic. The pension, there's a pension, there's things that that in my mind, were like, why would I ever leave here? It's great. I love the work. I love the people, the benefits are good. But I, you know, for the past five ish years, I've always had a curiosity about what happens in the offices of the people on the other side of the table from me, guy. I know that a couple of times, at least, I said to Jeff neumayer, don't you think I should go sit in Turner's office for a few weeks and just see what they do, or, you know, go sit in the operations office to see what they do. So I can better understand why why we have to build a terminal this way instead of that way. So I've always had this curiosity about what else is happening out there. And because because of the way that my career growth happened, the challenges that I was that I was facing on projects every day outweighed that curiosity. Because because I couldn't even finish my first two browned up buildings before I got thrown into a terminal. It was like, No, I don't need to think about that. Something new and fresh and challenging here every single day. So you know, I I had been thinking for of it for a long time, but it didn't really hit. And when I was on T through West, which was a huge project, huge terminal project, which, you know, for me, it was like, if I'm doing terminals in aviation, that's awesome. That's where I want to be. That's like the top of the line type of project that you want to be doing. It's a huge project of a huge team, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I've got the position. So that's when I started thinking to myself, well, what's going to happen next, like, where are they going to pick me up and throw me next? And is that going to be five years from now? I wanted to make sure that I was like, constantly growing right, rising in my career and and all of that. And that's not to say that SFO wouldn't have found a place for me, I'm sure that they would have but it was at that point that it was really like, okay, maybe this is a this is the right time to try something new. And also, you know, because of all of my relationship shifts at SFO, I felt really comfortable that if I went off and tried something new and I hated it that hopefully they would take me back. So there are over two competences left in that too. But so so when I made the decision, I actually decided to do this in August or September of last year. And my girlfriend, I came down to LA and we've been coming down to LA and we actually we bought a house that we that we closed on in December of last year. And we moved down here in January. Now I've been working for SFO ever since just remotely or I've been going back and forth. And it almost, you know, at the beginning, we moved in January, and up until COVID started, I was driving back and forth to get to work at SFO and I was kind of working one week on when we got for whatever thing I got myself. Hold on, hold on. 

Third is delayed, um, was there was a point of all this, you're working one week off.

Tania Gharechedaghy  46:08  
So it's traveling back and forth. And, you know, it almost seems like I could continue an aviation for the foreseeable future, maybe even with SFO because I felt like I was showing them that it was probably okay for me to work remotely. And then COVID happened and everyone was working remotely. So it didn't really matter. And so I got to stay on for a really long time. I could go work at LAX, which had and has still a lot of massive projects ongoing. And I got a lot of phone calls about opportunities at La x, which was cool. And I was I was happy about that. But I got some advice. During that time when I was driving back and forth. And it was clearly define your goal, like where do you? What do you want to be doing? And, and that sounds really simple, but it's real, you know? Many, many, six hour drive was like radio off like oh, my God, what? life. And the second part of that advice was clearly define your goal. And hopefully your professional goal revolves around doing good for others. I mean, that that's not really profound. But I think it might be for people in our industry, because I don't, I don't think that way.

Felipe Engineer  47:34  
I think it is really profound. And the good for a lot of people telling you that you can just be a jerk. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  47:43  
I really didn't want that. And so doing good for other people could be providing for your family, that's fine, right? Could be doing something for society. It could be whatever it is for different people. And finally, on one of those drives, it clicked for me. And, you know, my goal is I want to get into real estate, I want to learn as much as I can about it, and in it. And I want to position myself to be a part of this solution to affordable housing. And it took, you know, 20 of these drives for me to be like, okay, that's the end game. And no, I'm not just going to go build, go try to build affordable housing, I want to put myself in a high enough position in the real estate industry so that I can make proper change really impact the way that we do affordable housing in California and maybe the United States. So that's right. It's great. I feel motivated.

Felipe Engineer  48:52  
Yeah. And you're in a good spot to where it's not that affordable. It's not affordable. And you know, buying a house. It's true.

Tania Gharechedaghy  48:59  
It's more affordable in San Francisco. I'll tell you that.

Felipe Engineer  49:04  
Though, we, we grew up in the Midwest, my wife and I and we, we came to California we went from like a super spacious house with a detached garage yard multiple, you know, front yard or backyard. Two, I think it was like a 600 or 900 square foot apartment. It was which was more expensive than what we had. And and it's just like, what is it? Oh, the weather is amazing. I gotta pay for the weather that I can control. Yeah, worth it totally. You made a massive change. takes courage. It's very scary. You make it look easy. In the middle of it. So we'll see what you've got people to help you by yourself. You got support. So I wanted to ask you in particular, because you know, leading people is not easy. What is something that doesn't have to deal with that? But my question to you, Tanya is, what is something about somebody else listening or watching this? If they're frustrated in their work? You got some amazing advice on a five and a half hour drive? What would you tell somebody who's frustrated in the work that they're doing in the design and construction industry?

Tania Gharechedaghy  50:22  
I think, you know, initially frustration is your there's always going to be frustration in our work, right? It's not uncommon. So, don't think that if you're frustrated, it's the end of the world. And that's not my advice. My advice is not is not brush it off, don't worry about it's not my advice.

Felipe Engineer  50:45  
I thought you're gonna say what? I was ready to hit it, you got your stuff? That's very advice for seven years.

Tania Gharechedaghy  50:56  
You maybe maybe it goes back to just that right? Like, what is your? What's your goal? Why are you doing what you're doing? And it can be as simple as you know, some days I am in a 6am meeting. And I'm like, What am I doing? In a meeting at this time of day, I should be having my coffee or taking a shower or whatever? And and I think to myself, why am I here? This is frustrating that I have to, to do these early meetings, and then I have to work till 6pm also. And really, it's like, why are you doing this? And why am I in a 6am meeting? Because it's important to the project, because it's important to the success of my team? Because for some reason, you know, my brain power needs to be there. What, however much it is at 6am? And when you answer that question for yourself, if it's if the answer is a good one, then you say, Okay, then I'll wake up tomorrow and be here at 6am. Again, but if the answer is, I don't really need to be here, I just listened. And I don't say anything, then don't stay frustrated, say, Do I really need to be in this meeting? Can I not be in this meeting? And don't go to the meeting? Right? So if it's something as little as that, I mean, I think it's the isn't this like isn't a saline thing, ask why? Right. So ask why why why get the answers to your questions and get to the bottom of it and make the change that you need. If it's bigger than that, again, then then reevaluate what your professional goals are, and determine if you want to take a different path. And you know, what, let me also say, hopefully, you have leadership around you that can be supportive of you, and you can share your frustrations with and they can help kind of guide you, you know, and into a more positive experience of what you're doing.

Felipe Engineer  53:01  
That's really good.

Tania Gharechedaghy  53:02  
I got the good advice that Dan just there.

Felipe Engineer  53:07  
It came in? Close? No, Tanya, thank you so much for giving me more than an hour of your time. I'm gonna keep taking it. I'm gonna I'm gonna ask Kate, one more. I'm not done yet. So I wanted to ask you, you know, now that you're moving into a new space, what, what kind of networking? Have you done to do that? Or have you already started finding experts? Because I know you mentioned sitting at that, that that was a cluster group, right, the core team that you were part of people that you can trust? Have you made those types of inroads in? And how did you do that for someone that's changing from one part of our industry to another?

Tania Gharechedaghy  53:50  
Yeah, it's really hard. And I'm glad you're asking this question. Because I think that one of the most important do in our industry, especially, you know, as we are kind of mentoring people or thinking about ways that we can grow in our in our professional worlds are the important things that we need to do is, is networking. And you know, I talked about it a little bit about giving the time and attention to those day to day conversations. Networking is like that. You can't just fill up your LinkedIn bucket and think that you have a big network. You can't just go to happy hour with people. You know, every so often and think you have a big network, you have to really sometimes coddle and, and develop relationships with people. Sometimes you don't really see it in the moment. You know why you need to be connected to them, but their connection to you and your connection to them will lead to much bigger and greater things at some point in time that you have. No, you don't even have any idea about right like look at me. I'm the star of a podcast today. 

Felipe Engineer  55:00  
Yeah, look at that you got two engineers and talking with each other, the power of networks? Yes. I should give, give hope to all non engineers out there. Even inside of every engineer, there's a desire to convey.

Tania Gharechedaghy  55:18  
Not all, not all, but some. But back to your question, networking has been incredibly hard, especially with COVID. It's horrible. You know, I know a lot of people in aviation, and that has been very comforting to me, in my choice to leave San Francisco because I felt that I could fall back on a lot of aviation connections and resources. And I don't know anybody in real estate at all. And I don't know a lot of people in LA aside from those aviation connections, and, you know, personal friends that I have here. So it's been very hard, because in my mind, when I moved down, I was going to be going to lunches and happy hours and dinners and industry events, and all kinds of things and, and developing those relationships the same way that you and I did, and sitting on panels and doing all the things that, you know, we sometimes do to to grow our networks, and I haven't been able to do any of those things. I mean, I haven't been able to even really develop a strong relationship with my neighbors barely, because we can only talk from so far away, right? So it's been hard, what I've been doing is talking to everybody that's willing to talk to me, contacting everybody on my list. And, you know, frankly, when a recruiter hits me up on LinkedIn, I talk to them and I find out that I know, you know, three people away from them, and somehow that connection gets made and then it gives me other connections. And I'm sharing with a lot of people that I'm making a change so that people know to call me and and want to call me about the change. But I haven't been to a single Happy Hour. 

Felipe Engineer  57:09  
And that is really sad that I would I would have made this a drinks mandatory. Oh, well. I'm drinking coffee out of the kids. So I'm drinking water out of a coffee. Okay, that's fair. No, I think that's really good advice to just talk to people in the grow that network and it is hard. It is hard even me I'm an extrovert with a capital E. Yeah. And it's still hard sometimes to call because I don't want to pester people. Because I can talk to people all day. I used to go to conferences. tonyan conference starts at 8am and 4am. The next day, I remember my wife even said, I'm never going to a conference with you because it's just not right for me. To come back from the conference in this talk or year off. Yeah. Definitely some industry challenges with getting people to still connect Yeah, find meaningful ways to talk. Because I found the the number, so we're gonna put some math to it. I was in the zoom happy hour, Tanya. And I was the host. And when it got to more than 10 people, it was no longer just tile after tile to tile the face. And no one knew like who she is to advise recommends keep it don't go to happy hour, there's gonna be more than 10 people on this. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  58:49  
Okay, that advice would be rough. Thank you. I bet that is just one of the many things that I've learned from you today.

Felipe Engineer  58:57  
Now, I'll give you one more. Here's some for the homeowner. Never discount the chance conversations you'll have when throwing out your garden. When we first became home, homeowners, my wife and I way back in the day, she was like, Alright, you're gonna take out the garbage like, no problem. I'd go I'd be gone for like an hour. When I come back, I was like, Oh, I was talking to Sandy behind. You know, we were talking about she's like really good in the gardening. And I've always wanted to think about and she's telling me like, we could do it. I'd be outside for like an hour. I might be a huge thing. Yeah, it would happen every time. It didn't matter. I almost felt like there were waves. I loved it. The same here like we had here where I live. Somebody crashed our garbage cans at like three in the morning. And one of my neighbors came and knocked on our door a couple weeks ago and she said I'm so sorry to tell you and so we came out there and it was just it looks like Like a garbage candidate, right? So I'm out there with my my neighbor across the way he's he sees me out there and you know, we're masked up socially distant, we're picking up trash in the in the street. And my neighbors like, isn't there somebody to call you? You're not our community was in between companies for who's going to manage me. So I knew there was nobody. So you know, what, what better thing to do than to keep are looking. And I got used to talk to my neighbors. 

Tania Gharechedaghy  1:00:32  
Hey, go, you certainly take advantage of that. 

Felipe Engineer  1:00:37  
I do I take advantage of anybody that wants to talk to me. Tanya, when I go into the office, I plan an extra hour to two hours for chance conference. Wow. Yeah, that's cool. I like that. I want to give you the last words. Tanya, is there anything that we haven't talked about? Do you want to share?

Tania Gharechedaghy  1:00:55  
You know, I think if we're, if I go back to kind of where my passion is, and why I like being in this industry. And while I like the work that I do, it's it really revolves around not just leadership, but but strategic leadership. And for me, strategic leadership means engaging a team engaging a team to come up with solutions to strategize about how to deliver a product, and then using that team to actually go deliver it. And the only way to do strict successful strategic leadership is to be, you know, focusing on your people first, right? Like all of the success around projects, stems from successful leadership stems from successful dealing with people. And so I think if I was to leave the construction world, with what's really important to me, and what could be valuable for them, it's in your day to day interactions, be thoughtful about your team and your project and your constituents or your you know, whatever it is, and whoever it is that you're lead leading, and think about what is really best for them, like, what, what is the best thing for this person right now, and do that thing, and that is going to lead to the success of your project. And that is going to lead to, you know, being able to be strategic and count on people to trust you, and you trust them and give you innovative ideas and, you know, make you a great leader. So yeah, those are, that's my last two cents.

Felipe Engineer  1:02:44  
That alone does make how we do things. All right. I'll take it. Thank you so much again, for your time. It has been my pleasure, sharing this time with you and learning from you, Tanya.

Tania Gharechedaghy  1:02:56  
It has been my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me and leading me through a masterful conversation.

Felipe Engineer  1:03:03  
You're welcome. All right. Have a great day, and I'll talk to you soon. I can't wait to see what adventures you'll have in the affordable housing retail. Need to come back on when you feel like you want to share some nuggets in that area. Yeah, absolutely. You're always welcome. Okay, cool. I'll call you next week. We solve that fast, right. Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC show is created by Felipe and produced by a passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe, everybody. Let's go build!