MGAC Impacts: Kevin Riehl on Emerging Technology, the Pulse of a Project, and Drumming in Metallica
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 Kevin Riehl, Senior Project Manager at MGAC.
MGAC: Hello, Kevin! Welcome to the Impact Blog.
Kevin Riehl (KR): Hey! Thanks for having me.
MGAC: What is your title, and how long have you been with MGAC?
KR: I’m a Senior Project Manager in our Technology Solutions group. I’ve been with MGAC’s New York office for just over three years.
MGAC: And what were you doing before you landed here?
KR: Prior to MGAC, I was working in New York on the technology side of a few headquarter expansion projects for a financial software / media company. It was my first substantial job out of college, and where I gained a lot of exposure to network engineering, project management, and the overall construction process. I was on site every day, walking the floors and watching it happen. That was a cool environment to be in right out of the gate, seeing the intersection between technology and construction. When you embed technology in the built environment, it becomes the pulse of a building, a living, breathing thing.
MGAC: It sounds like you really hit the ground running. Was this always the industry you wanted to go into? What did you want to be when you grew up?
KR: I’ll be honest: I had no idea! My big plans were to play professional sports or play drums in Metallica—that is, if the drummer quit. Needless to say, I went to college to figure it all out. Ultimately, I majored in Information Technology. It’s something I’ve always had an interest in, being a millennial who grew up with technology and saw its rapid evolution.
MGAC: Nice! What’s your alma mater?
KR: Rutgers University.
MGAC: So, despite the Metallica dreams not panning out, do you think your younger self would be excited about where you ended up?
KR: Yeah, I think so! Because there’s so much exciting evolution in what I do. It changes day to day, month to month. You have to keep up with what’s going on in the technology world. Not to mention, you’re also dealing with a lot of different people on a daily basis. So, you have to be on your toes, stay engaged, and bring your A-game every day.
MGAC: So true! Speaking of staying on your toes, what’s been keeping you busy on the job?
KR: Right now, I’m on a large multi-building Headquarters program for a global manufacturing company. MGAC is providing program management and project management services and I have the opportunity to work with several of my MGAC colleagues from our various service lines for the client. All told, it’ll be about a five-year project. Prior to this, I’d been working on a major network and technology overhaul for a prestigious University client. Its existing infrastructure could no longer meet the growing needs of the University. We helped them create a technology program to enhance critical aspects of both day-to-day operations and research. It was a cool job to be involved with because it is absolutely helping people do their jobs better and more efficiently every day.
MGAC: It sounds like in just a few years, you’ve had the opportunity to work on some pretty meaningful projects. When you think about your time with MGAC on the whole, what impact do you hope to have here?
KR: I hope to be known as someone who always went above and beyond and who was able to anticipate problems. If I couldn’t anticipate a problem, be it for a client or for MGAC internally, I was able to react and collectively problem-solve with the team.
MGAC: Anticipation is really the name of the game in project management, isn’t it?
KR: Absolutely. One of the first things I learned about project management is the importance of always staying a few steps ahead. If you occasionally anticipate something that doesn’t come to fruition, no harm, no foul. But, as soon as things inevitably do change, you’ve got to be ready to pivot and figure it out.
MGAC: What challenges have you been faced with so far?
KR: Of course, the pandemic is still fresh in everyone’s mind. In spring of 2020, I had been working on-site on the University client’s project for about a year and a half. Suddenly, we went fully remote. The client’s goals and objectives changed; it was that weird time where no one knew what was going to happen. There was an unrelated facilities project that involved moving a data center across campus that needed our support, so we pivoted to that. At first, doing it remotely felt like a daunting task. Luckily, the relationship with the client and team was in place, and we were able to gather the team, communicate, and get a plan in place. Ultimately, we were able to execute it on time and within budget. It was a big success—and a great crash course in communicating in the age of COVID-19.
MGAC: You could say that! How do you hope your work will impact your community at large?
KR: As I mentioned before with our university work, we deploy technology that helps people do their jobs more efficiently. But the funny thing about technology is, when it’s working well, you don’t think about it. We put technology into buildings that, more often than not, no one notices. And that’s the goal. Because when the platform is reliable and secure, when there are no downtimes or hardware failures, it means you can go about your job. It means research can continue. And that can have profound impacts on a community.
MGAC: What at MGAC has made an impact on you?
KR: The team spirit and the way people approach each other. In this line of work, we’re constantly tasked with finding answers to problems we haven’t encountered before. At MGAC, we recognize that there’s never just one way to do something. So, we put our heads together to find solutions, and everyone’s perspective is always considered. Great ideas come out of that.
MGAC: What have you found most rewarding about your job?
KR: Just assessing—and appreciating—everything we are able to do for our clients over a project’s term. It’s easy to get tied up in the day-to-day stuff when you’re going 100 MPH. You can forget the progress you’ve made on a project, especially after three to five years! It’s rewarding to step back and look back at it from a higher level and take inventory of what’s been accomplished.
MGAC: What gives you energy?
KR: My desire to continue learning. Whether from my teammates or if I’m going for a certification in the industry. Staying hungry gives me energy.
MGAC: What’s your secret to winding down at the end of a long day?
KR: It might sound counterintuitive to “winding down,” but over the past year, I’ve built a home gym in my garage. I blast music, get a workout in, and then I’m done for the day. It’s a nice way to create separation from work and home when you’re working from home.
MGAC: And starting the morning off on the right foot?
KR: I get up, let the dog out, drink some coffee, and read the news. I’m a simple guy when it comes to that.
MGAC: Hey, if it ain’t broken! Tell us about your pup.
KR: His name is Charlie. He’s a chihuahua-terrier mix that we adopted during the pandemic. He’s the most anxious dog on the planet, but he’s also very cute.
MGAC: Name a book that’s changed the way you see the world.
KR: Actually, I’m reading one right now. It’s called Hard Work Pays Off. The author, Matt Fraser, is a five-time CrossFit champion who broke his back early in his career. He had to overcome that. The book is all about the mindset of overcoming adversity. It’s a good story that translates well to life in general.
MGAC: How about a favorite quote that inspires you?
KR: “Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” I heard the quote years ago and had to look up who said it. Turns out, it was Will Rogers. It resonates with me because being present is key to everything—especially nowadays, with so many distractions all around.
MGAC: You could definitely say that quote has stood the test of time. What do you want your lasting impact to be?
KR: I’d like to be known as someone who prioritizes listening over speaking. It’s something I sometimes struggle with, because I can get so excited about ideas and want to jump right in. But listening is so vital. It plays into building trust and forging long-lasting relationships—both of which are paramount in the work we do.
MGAC: Well said. We now have a few rapid-fire questions for you. Ready?
MGAC: Describe your job in 5 words or less.
KR: Bringing clarity to ambiguity.
MGAC: Nice one. What’s the first thing you do at work every day?
KR: I open my email and see if I missed anything overnight. Just informational stuff.
MGAC: And the last thing?
KR: I close my laptop and put a pin in the day. And I try to remember to throw out the various Post-it notes I’ve scribbled on throughout the day and stuck to the sides of my monitor.
MGAC: What’s the weirdest thing we might find in your desk or work bag?
KR: There’s a fiber patch cable in my work bag. It’s used to connect a backend system. I don’t know why I have it. I’ve been carrying it around for so long, and it’s followed me with every new work bag I get. But I know one day someone is going to need it, and I’ll be that guy who has it.
MGAC: What’s the most used app on your phone?
KR: Spotify and Instagram. My wife is constantly posting pictures of our dog and now, our new baby!
MGAC: Congrats! What’s your biggest work goal for 2022?
KR: I’m going to go for an industry certification, the RCDD. It essentially involves reading a really long book and then taking a test.
MGAC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
KR: Wrapping up the project I’m currently working on, for starters! But in general, I hope I’m continuing to move up the management team here at MGAC and assisting in building out our Technology Solutions group.
MGAC: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
KR: I played drums in a cover band throughout college. We played everything from Led Zeppelin to Britney Spears on the Jersey Shore scene.