News + Ideas

MGAC Impacts: Nilesh Jain on Distilling Data, the Joy of Solutions, and Channeling Doctor Strange


MGAC Senior Scheduler Nilesh Jain is pictured in front of the Chicago Bean, with his partner, a woman wearing a grey dress. Nilesh is wearing a navy shirt and khaki pants.
Nilesh with his wife in Chicago.

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 Nilesh Jain, Senior Scheduler at MGAC.

MGAC: Hi, Nilesh! Welcome to the Impact Blog!

Nilesh Jain (NJ): Thank you!

MGAC: Tell us about your role here at MGAC.

NJ: I’m a Senior Scheduler based in Washington, DC. My responsibilities include monitoring project progress, identifying potential risks, and acting as a trusted adviser to our clients to ensure timely project completion.

MGAC: And what led you to this role?

NJ: I moved to the U.S. in 2017 and got my Master’s in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. After that, I worked with a General Contractor in North Carolina, doing project engineer work—a lot of which involved scheduling. I was looking for opportunities to do more of that work and joined MGAC as a scheduler in November 2019.

MGAC: Wow, what a journey! Growing up, did you see yourself ending up in this industry?

NJ: I always wanted to be in a profession where I could see and feel the stuff I work on. I adored machines and always liked breaking down and rebuilding my toys to see how things worked. My dad, who is a developer, dropped a knowledge bomb on me when I was 12; he told me that a doctor is responsible for taking care of one person at a time, but a civil engineer is responsible for hundreds and thousands of people. That’s when I decided to become a civil engineer.

MGAC: That’s a cool way to look at it. So, what’s keeping you busy these days?

NJ: I’m currently working on a data center project for one of the top tech companies in the U.S. There’s a lot of pre-planning involved, which is interesting because it includes projects that will happen as far ahead as 2030. It’s exciting for a few reasons. The sheer scale and impact of the data centers we will build over the coming years will be massive. There’s an ‘AI Gold Rush’ on the way. There’s the wider enterprise adoption of cloud computing. And then, there are the ongoing effects of the pandemic-driven digital transformation, driving the exponential growth of these data centers. It’s just crazy to think about how they will transform our lives in the modern era.

MGAC: No kidding! Thinking that far ahead must be challenging in an industry that moves so fast.

NJ: Yes! With this work, I have to think many years ahead, all the time, because that’s what it takes to make sure we get the important things right. My job would be a lot easier if I had a time machine. Some days, I wish I did!

MGAC: Don’t we all! Without a time machine, what does this work look like?

NJ: Well, I settle for the next best thing—careful planning and scheduling. Predicting and mapping the timeline of a project feels a little like looking into a crystal ball sometimes. Sure, you can control costs, quality, and the safety controls of a project, but any project can encounter errors and unanticipated challenges along the way. It’s my job to map out a schedule that uses all the industry knowledge and data we have at our disposal, in a way that’s realistic and flexible enough to account for such instances.

MGAC: So, you’re always expecting the unexpected.

NJ: In a sense, yes. It’s challenging, but I find striking that balance between what we know is ahead and what could happen really intriguing and rewarding. The past few years, in particular, have shown us that anything can happen in the world. Geopolitical happenings on the other side of the globe can affect the supply chain here. For that reason, planning and scheduling are our strongest tools we have for protecting project delivery. Working with a Project Scheduler is like having Doctor Strange on your team—and I get to be Doctor Strange!

MGAC: Love the comparison. Your contributions to a project are clearly important—what impact do you hope to have with your work?

NJ: Fun fact: I was the first Scheduler of our team here with the MGAC U.S. Team. So, I came to this work with an open field to define by introducing innovative scheduling for our clients. Making sure what we deliver is accurate, competitive, and accessible to clients is really important to me. And, staying ahead of the curve—utilizing the latest technologies, layering in more analytics or visualizations—keeps MGAC competitive within our market. Technology is constantly changing in this field, so I think I’ll always be focused on rewriting the way we do things.

MGAC: Have you faced any challenges with your work so far?

NJ: Presenting data in a simplistic way is always a necessary challenge. I need to distill a lot of important information and make it accessible to a large number of people. The construction field is very diverse, our client list is very diverse; not everyone is going to have, say, an engineering background. It’s my job to make sure all those people can understand the data and stay on the same page.

MGAC: How has working at MGAC impacted you?

NJ: MGAC is one of the most diverse companies I have worked with—we have lots of departments that work on all kinds of projects across industries. That’s helped me gain a lot of knowledge, and the ability to touch on various sectors of construction.

MGAC: What do you find most rewarding about your work?

NJ: Ultimately, the most rewarding part of the job is knowing that I’m impacting the success of the project in a tangible way. As a Scheduler, when a project is completed on time and within budget, it’s a great feeling. Along the way, I enjoy being able to anticipate potential issues and find proactive solutions to keep a project on track.

MGAC: What gives you energy each day?

NJ: Working on solutions gives me energy. That applies to my work, of course, but also to my personal life. For instance, my doorbell wasn’t working recently. I spent almost two weeks looking for a solution, and ultimately found that my transformer wasn’t supported. Up until that point, I woke up every day wanting to solve the problem. That gave me motivation and energy!

MGAC: What’s next now that you’ve tackled the doorbell?

NJ: Now I have a receptacle that’s not working. So that’s next!

MGAC: So, searching for answers gets you energized in the morning. What’s your secret for winding down at the end of the day?

NJ: Cooking with my wife is a big stress buster for me. And then, sitting at the dining table, talking about what we did that day, and finishing our evening with a brief walk.

MGAC: Do you have a favorite quote that’s made an impact on you?

NJ: There’s a quote from Abraham Lincoln that inspires me a lot. I actually have it on a poster in my office. It goes: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

MGAC: Wow, a great parallel to your line of work!

NJ: Exactly! It’s all about planning.

MGAC: Now, are you ready for some rapid-fire questions?

NJ: Let’s do it!

MGAC: You’re starting your workday. What’s the first thing you do?

NJ: I check my calendar, check the meetings, and prioritize.

MGAC: And the last thing?

NJ: I make a point of going to everyone’s office to say goodbye before I head home.

MGAC: If we looked at your to-do list right now, what would we find at the top?

NJ: Right now? Repair the home receptacle. And get prepped for a meeting.

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

NJ: I always carry roasted chickpeas in my bag. So, I guess that! I just love them.

MGAC: What’s your go-to weekday lunch?

NJ: An Indian curry cooked by my wife.

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

NJ: Right now, YouTube. I go there a lot to find solutions—for the doorbell and now the receptacle!

MGAC: How would you describe your job in five words or less?

NJ: Planning. Scheduling. Monitoring. Controlling.

MGAC: What is your biggest work goal for 2023?

NJ: Working more with the cost team at MGAC so that by 2024 I have greater knowledge to work toward becoming a Project Controls Manager.

MGAC: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

NJ: Keep it simple.

MGAC: What’s your dream project?

NJ: I would love to work with MGAC on a project based in India.

MGAC: What are you known for in the office?

NJ: End-of-the-day chats. And cricket! I support the Indian team and the Chennai Super Kings.

MGAC: If you’re not at work, where would we find you?

NJ: The cricket ground or on a hike, probably in Shenandoah!

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