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MGAC Impacts: Courtney Tilly on Solving Puzzles, Building Communities, and Life Lessons from The Giving Tree


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 Courtney Tilly, Assistant Project Manager at MGAC.

MGAC: Welcome to the blog, Courtney! Tell us what you do at MGAC.

Courtney Tilly: I’m an Assistant Project Manager. I work with our Project Managers in supporting and facilitating the execution of project schedules and budgets. That’s basically my day-to-day activity; coordinating with all the parties and making sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to do, while overseeing the budget and schedule.

MGAC: How long have you been on board?

CT: Three weeks now!

MGAC: You’re just getting started! How has it been so far?

CT: It’s been great. Everyone is really welcoming and informative. As with starting any new job, I’m learning the ropes. But, everyone has been really helpful facilitating and helping me understand what my role is and how we do our job.

MGAC: And how about beginning a new job in the midst of the pandemic?

CT: I’m lucky to be on-site. But, one thing I did think was weird is that all my interviews were over the phone, and I’m used to seeing people and having face-to-face conversations. So, getting hired by a company that’s halfway across the country with only virtual conversation was a little strange, but it’s all worked out.

MGAC: That’s great. Where are you based?

CT: I’m in Northern Virginia. I relocated there from Louisiana.

MGAC: What projects are you working on?

CT: I work in the critical environments sector. We are building several data centers. In this day and age of technology and everyone using cloud storage, it is really impactful to see how this sector is growing right now and the demand for all of these facilities in Northern Virginia. Seeing how the world is changing as we become more technological, as well as getting to work on a job that’s helping people do their own jobs right now is really cool.

MGAC: So true! We are more reliant on technology than ever now that many of us are working remotely. It’s awesome that you’re helping make that happen. And what about MGAC—what drew you to the company?

CT: I graduated in December, so I’m new in starting my career. In terms of internships, I’ve always worked for a general contractor. But going through school, I got my degrees in construction management and finance. It’s really working more on that owner side that led me to MGAC. Being able to use both those degrees and facilitate from project inception to project close-out drew me to this company. Whereas I was working for a GC, now I’m kind of on the owner’s side and being the lead in the project.

MGAC: So you have come full circle! Was this always an area you wanted to work in? In other words, what did you want to be when you grew up?

CT: I always wanted to be a chef or a baker—so kind of a vast switch! But, going through school and learning more about myself, I always knew I wanted to figure out a puzzle. And also just being drawn to the world around me. Playing as a child, I always tried to stack the tallest tower and learned how to build a strong foundation with LEGO and Lincoln Logs. I was always drawn to the puzzle aspect. I truly flourished in college, especially going through all my engineering courses, focusing on how to figure out that puzzle. Now in my job, I have the final picture and I am trying to assemble the puzzle, but we’re creating all the puzzle pieces.

MGAC: As a newer member of the team, what skills and experience are you hoping to bring?

CT: I think it’s just more of a fresh look. Everything can get a little stagnant when you’re looking at something for so long. I hope to be able to bring a new perspective as to what they’re looking at and the way they’re looking at it. And, hopefully, highlight some of those impactful areas. I’m excited to make sure the job is functioning like a well-oiled machine and there are no hiccups along the way.

MGAC: That’s a great way to look at things. And where do you hope to take your career?

CT: I really want to grow into bigger roles, and hopefully throughout my experience with MGAC, they’ll see me as a true asset and start relying on me for more responsibility. And, as that responsibility grows, hopefully, I’ll be promoted to project manager, senior project manager, etc. Ultimately taking on more responsibilities and becoming a true asset to the company in all aspects of the job.

MGAC: Even though you are just getting started in this role, have you faced any challenges yet?

CT: As I mentioned before, I’ve worked for general contractors, but we built multi-family commercial buildings. I never really knew what a data center was before starting in this role. While it’s still construction, it’s a different kind of construction. Really learning the nuances and everything that goes into these data centers has been really cool.

MGAC: No kidding—that’s quite the transition! How do you hope the work you are doing with MGAC will impact your community at large?

CT: It’s that whole new age of technology. Although you don’t directly interact with the consumer, the consumer is you and I. Everyone relies on these data centers to push information through the computer, and everyone virtually has a computer in the form of a phone now. Being able to see how much is used and how every single person interacts with technology, you know you’re making an impact.

MGAC: On a similar note, what have you found most rewarding about your job so far?

CT: It’s been great in the sense that everyone really works as a team. MGAC project leads really just try to aid each other in all aspects of the job, even if they’re on different projects. It’s a nice environment to work in knowing if you have a question, it will always be answered.

MGAC: What gives you energy to start your day every morning?

CT: The first thing would be coffee! Also, knowing how doing my job will really impact the world, and knowing that challenges are ahead of me, but I will be able to take them on.

MGAC: That’s awesome. And what is your secret to winding down at the end of a long day?

CT: I really enjoy cooking. I tend to go home and cook up a good meal and relax doing that. I put on some good music, maybe have a glass of wine.

MGAC: Name a book that changed your life.

CT: I know it’s a children’s book, but The Giving Tree has really impacted me. The life lesson of giving unto others and always treating others with kindness and you will be rewarded.

MGAC: That’s a great book. What do you want your lasting impact to be?

CG: I nerd out about the world around me and the landscape that I live in. Being in this industry, I think it’s truly impactful that you’re really building the skyline around you—you’re building community. Everyone needs a place to live, to work, to eat, to buy their groceries. Construction is really a great way to facilitate that. If I just do my job on a day-to-day basis, I’m going to have a lasting impact.

MGAC: Are you ready for some rapid-fire questions? Tell us the first answer that comes to mind.

CT: Sure!

MGAC: Describe your job in 5 words or less

CT: Inspiring others, building the future.

MGAC: Really well-said. What’s the first thing you do at work every day?

CT: Read e-mails and create a to-do list.

MGAC: The last thing?

CT: A daily journal of everything I’ve done that day.

MGAC: What’s the weirdest thing we might find in your desk or work bag?

CT: I was a Girl Scout growing up, so I’m pretty much prepared, whether it’s a first aid kit or food and drink.

MGAC: Smart! What can’t you leave home without?

CT: Coffee, my phone, and Chapstick.

MGAC: What’s your go-to lunch order?

CT: We’re provided with lunch, so whatever they’re serving!

MGAC: Every day? What a great perk! What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?

CT: I really love sugar. Any dessert.

MGAC: What’s the most used app on your phone?

CT: Probably the actual phone. I like to talk a lot.

MGAC: That’s a new one! Who is someone who inspires you?

CT: My mama; balancing work and life and kids and family.

MGAC: Love that. Where do you see yourself in five years?

CT: Working at MGAC, hopefully as a Senior Project Manager by that point, and really starting to take on whole projects by myself.

MGAC: Nice! And lastly, what is your biggest work goal for 2020?

CT: Definitely just diving more into my work and making an impact on that job.

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