Tom Jacobek Through my experience working in both the public and private sectors, I learned efficient project management.
KBNJ Consulting, Inc., a Canadian construction project consulting firm. Prior to founding, he spent more than 20 years managing the huge budget and complex infrastructure projects of the City of Toronto, the Toronto East General Hospital, and his own real estate development and management company, Romlek. Enterprises, Inc.
We asked him some questions about project management and the future of Canadian construction.
Thank you for talking to me today, Tom. He has extensive experience managing both public and private projects. Why did you decide to set up your own consulting company with KBNJ Consulting?
Tom Jakobek: There were many project requests. In the end, the workload grew beyond what I could handle. So I went out and found a talented project manager. Hiring someone you know you can trust is absolutely important, especially if you have clients who trust you to deliver your project on time and on budget. There are people I can trust, but I am always involved in overseeing all projects to make them successful.
It’s impossible to talk about almost anything without mentioning a recent pandemic. How do you see the future of Canadian construction out of the worst (hopefully) blockade?
Tom Jakobek: The truth is that Canadian construction has a bright future. We are a growing country with infrastructure needs that will not disappear with a pandemic. Things are still moving forward. Many large-scale infrastructure projects are planned over the next decade, especially in Ontario.
I think there is a lot of evidence that companies are adapting to new conditions. Retailers are selling more online and restaurants are stepping up deliveries. As Toronto’s real estate continues to boom, more housing and improved transportation infrastructure are needed.
There’s a lot of excitement in the Toronto area.
Are there any potential obstacles facing the construction industry? What advice do other project managers have for a successful project?
Tom Jakobek: I think it is important to read as much as possible. In this era, we cannot stop learning. Knowledge is not an option. That is very important. I always advise the project manager. If you have the ability to do the job yourself, do it. This is how the project is delivered on time.
It is also important to be proactive and prepared.
What are the recent developments in the construction industry that you see as a positive sign?
Tom Jakobek: A major construction industry group recently joined a coalition called Building for Recovery. The key is to encourage governments at different levels to make investments in infrastructure projects.
They ask people to send letters to their political representatives and others.
I think it’s a good idea. These projects are part of how we can move the economy back.
What do you think is the most important attitude for a successful project manager?
Tom Jakobek: You must understand that you share risk with your clients. I think the consultant should only be rewarded for the results. It informs your clients that you are actually investing in the results of your project. They want to know that you have “game skin”. That’s when they start to feel that they can trust you, and eventually they won’t want anyone else to manage their project.
KBNJ Consulting, Inc. , Interview with Tom Jakobek
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