The Impact Blog is a spotlight series that highlights and celebrates the diverse employees that make MGAC tick. Beyond their day-to-day schedules, we want to know how they have a greater impact on their colleagues, their company, and the communities in which they live and work. We want to know what makes them get out of bed in the morning, what led them to their current role, and what they hope their lasting impact will be.
Today, we get to know Blake Scipio, Senior Project Manager at MGAC.
MGAC: Hello and welcome to the Impact Blog, Blake!
Blake Scipio (BS): Hi, thanks!
MGAC: What is your role here at MGAC?
BS: I’m a Senior Project Manager based in Ohio. I work on data center builds, helping the client with everything from land acquisition, coordination with utility providers, contractor onboarding, project controls, schedule, and budget, protecting the owner’s interests along the way. There are many moving parts to these projects, so it’s our job to be the eyes and ears for the client, watching out for them at all times.
MGAC: And when did you join the team?
BS: I joined in early 2021.
MGAC: What led you to this role?
BS: I actually previously worked for a subcontractor from the same project I’m working on now! I was a project manager for the electrical contractor. I had a working relationship with MGAC when my current role opened up, and I quickly realized it was an opportunity that was too good to pass up! I didn’t want to stay pigeonholed in one discipline for too long and knew that coming to MGAC would allow me to learn so much more about the industry. So, I made the jump, and I’m so happy I did!
MGAC: Glad to hear it! How’d you first make your way into the industry?
BS: I went to school for Industrial Engineering at Ohio University, where I also played football (Go Bobcats!). When senior year came around, I attended the career fair and met with some folks from my previous firm. I had no idea what electrical contracting entailed—I didn’t know anyone going into that line of work, and I didn’t have anyone in my family in the industry—but we hit it off, and I was fortunate enough to get an interview. I had the opportunity to take a job after that, and I never really looked back!
MGAC: And how did you land on industrial engineering as a major?
BS: I started out in mechanical engineering, but quickly learned that many of the courses focused on the theoretical side of work, with fewer hands-on applications (0f course, now, working with mechanical engineers, I know that’s not always the case). At the time, though, I’d decided that industrial engineering would ensure a hands-on application of the engineering methods we learned in school. That was important to me. Even from an early age, I was always interested in building things and seeing an end result.
MGAC: Sounds like your younger self would love where you’ve ended up!
BS: Definitely! I can recall being fascinated by that world as a kid, and now, with kids of my own, I see it through them. I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old, and they love construction equipment! Big trucks, dump trucks, bulldozers, building in the sandbox. It’s the same as when I was a kid, and now, when I walk the jobsite, I’m always amazed by the magnitude of the projects I get to work on. Kid Blake would think it’s awesome!
MGAC: Speaking of jobsites, what’s keeping you busy these days?
BS: The data center projects for big household names. There’s a lot going on, and it’s very humbling to be a part of some of the things you see in the news. It’s no secret that the data center industry is moving toward machine learning and AI, and with that comes many technological advances—similar to the dot-com boom in the late ’90s. That means a lot of work for us with data centers. Day-to-day, I don’t often step back and think about the magnitude of this moment, but we really are at the tip of the spear with some of the things we’re doing now. The folks who have been in this industry for a while know it and are telling us, “Listen, when your kids are in school, reading about the history of technology, this is what they’re going to be reading about.” The opportunity to be part of it through our work is pretty amazing.
MGAC: Technology moves fast. Does that play a big role in your projects?
BS: Yes! Everybody is moving at lightning speed, trying to be first to market. That means we move at lightning speed too. Timelines are tightening / shortening while demand is growing. To stay on top of it all, we are always planning ahead.
MGAC: Tell us more about that.
BS: Many of our data center clients are planning out entire campuses. A single building might take eight months to a year to build. And multiply that by ten buildings. The next thing you know, you’ve been on the same project for ten years! You don’t even realize it until you look back at everything you’ve built. It’s amazing to consider the small city the team has put together by the end. It takes a village. When you look at everyone from project management to tradecraft, you have thousands of hands that played a part in building these things.
MGAC: And it sounds like a lot of that work is happening right in your own backyard?
BS: That’s right! Everybody is flocking to Central Ohio right now for a reason. There’s power availability, good utilities, and low property prices. I can see the impact happening around me every day. It’s cool to see it grow and stimulate our economy here. That’s when your work really hits home. There’s all kinds of worry about trade work going away in younger generations as we focus more and more on technology, but we will always need folks to go out and actually build these buildings. The labor force here is really strong—and growing fast—as this work picks up.
MGAC: Sounds like your work won’t be slowing down there any time soon!
BS: Definitely not. I’m really lucky right now with how much it’s growing here. I don’t foresee having to move anytime soon!
MGAC: Keeping pace with big growth isn’t always easy. Do you have any secrets for keeping your energy levels up?
BS: I’m typically out of the house by 6:30AM, and I get home around 6:00PM with the commute. With that schedule, my wife and I try to take advantage of the time we have together, and we work out together every morning. My brother and I recently purchased a gym—that’s going to be a family endeavor. So, multiple days a week, I’m at the gym at 4:00AM. Physically getting up and moving gives me energy. If, for whatever reason, I missed a workout, I think most people in the office would attest to the fact that they can tell a difference! Then I drink a lot of coffee, and finally, when the end of the workday rolls around, it’s all about getting home and seeing the kids. Their energy level is unmatched, and being able to take a little piece of that every day when I get home keeps me going!
MGAC: On the flip side, do you have a go-to routine for winding down at the end of the day?
BS: I’m a bit of a nerd and watch “Jeopardy” every night, which comes on at about 7:00PM here. We typically have the kids bathed and in bed by then, so my wife and I will sit down and watch together. That’s kind of my cooldown! In fact, as far as I can remember, I’ve been watching that show. It was always on in my house growing up and still is today!
MGAC: Always a classic! What about books; any recent favorite reads?
BS: I just recently started listening to books on tape on the way to work because that’s 45 minutes most days. I recently listened to David Goggins’s Can’t Hurt Me and Never Finished. It’s inspirational to read about someone who came from nothing and made themselves a world-renowned motivational speaker and national hero. Additionally, my wife, brother, sister-in-law, and I do a Bible study together every Tuesday.
MGAC: Earlier, you mentioned how rewarding it is to work in a field that is growing the local economy. How do you hope to see that impact deepening in the coming years?
BS: My biggest goals concerning community impact are ensuring that we’ve got enough work here to continue to stimulate the economy and then making sure we are thoughtful about who we work with. I want to ensure we support smaller contractors, minority-owned businesses, woman-owned businesses, and folks that now have an awesome opportunity to grow their businesses with all of this work here in central Ohio.
MGAC: That’s awesome—what a powerful difference we have the ability to make. Turning that idea around, what at MGAC has made an impact on you as an individual?
BS: My mentors, Brent Hanson and Kyle Fenner. They’ve both been within MGAC for quite some time and are the folks I go to when I have questions—and have answers 99% of the time. They’ve been through the situation and worked through the issues, and if they don’t know the answer, they’ll find somebody who does. Being able to lean on them as a source of support has impacted me. I’d also say being given the opportunity to help MGAC grow. I’ve only been here for about two years, but I’ve already been invited into conversations around hiring and growing MGAC. That’s really refreshing and impactful.
MGAC: That’s wonderful to hear. Now, are you ready for some rapid-fire questions?
BS: Let’s do it!
MGAC: You’re starting the workday. What’s the first thing you do?
BS: Check my email.
MGAC: And the last thing?
BS: Touch base with the General Contractor to make sure there’s nothing else they need before I leave.
MGAC: What’s the first thing on your to-do list right now?
BS: Update machine learning tracker.
MGAC: What’s the most interesting thing on your desk right now?
BS: According to my live investigation right now, not much! I have a sideline pass from a football game last year – I suppose that is interesting!
MGAC: What can’t you get through the workday without?
MGAC: What’s your go-to workday lunch?
BS: There’s a place called The Goat in New Albany. It’s got upscale sports bar food, and I’m a fan of their Smokehouse Burger.
MGAC: What’s the most-used app on your phone?
BS: Gmail or Audible.
MGAC: Describe your job in five words or less.
BS: Looking out for the owner.
MGAC: What’s your biggest work goal right for the year ahead?
BS: I would like to bring on one client of my own in central Ohio in 2024.
MGAC: You’re in an ever-changing sector. What do you predict will be a big industry trend 10 years from now?
BS: AI and machine learning. Additionally, I think that the source of power is going to have to change. There are already multiple areas around the U.S.—Virginia and Ohio, for instance—where utility providers are approaching capacity and are implementing plans to bring additional capacity on. So, I think that power generation source will have to change.
MGAC: What do you think will stay the same?
BS: Hopefully, we can continue conversations like this and maintain relationships. Some of the ways in which we connect are different than, say, five years ago, but we’re still connecting, and I believe that’s important.
MGAC: What are you known for in the office?
BS: Drinking a lot of coffee, getting up too early in the morning, and hopefully always having a good attitude!
MGAC: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
BS: I can ride a unicycle and juggle. For whatever reason, at the school I attended, that was one of the things you did in gym class. If this career doesn’t work out, I suppose I can join a circus!
MGAC: Where would we find you if you’re not at work?
BS: With the family. We just took the kids to Yellowstone National Park, which was awesome. But whether it’s on the road, at grandma’s house, or in our own house, it’s all about spending time with the family.
MGAC: If you were to work on your dream project, what would it look like?
BS: I’m not sure how this would fall into what I currently do…but my dream location would be returning and working in the middle of one of the major National Parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons!