Buildings and Places, Design, Europe and India, People Spotlight

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a project manager from our Buildings+Places (B+P) business line in the Europe and India region and providing you insight into their project management inspiration and work.

Agata is a project manager in our Warsaw, Poland office and works predominantly on the United States Department of Defense (U.S. DoD) projects. She has been with AECOM since 2019, originally as a project manager assistant in our Railways team, before becoming a certified project manager in 2022. Her projects for the U.S. Government and Polish Provided Infrastructure (PPI) Program are located in Poland, Germany, and the Benelux.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry

I come from a family of engineers, so from a very young age, I was already in this industry. Although I had an inclination toward natural sciences, I eventually became an environmental engineer. My career path has taken me through many projects, starting with fuel installations, through large chemical plants and ending with work on defense-related topics.

I gained experience in many departments—bidding, design and project execution—so I was able to learn about the project investment process from all sides. It is an amazing feeling to see how a project develops from the very beginning, from the first dash to the last brick on the site.

During my 10 years of professional work, I have been involved in International Organization for Standardization (ISO)-related activities with topics primarily related to quality and environmental management being very important for me and influencing my actions taken at work.

I always try to pay special attention to environmental issues on the projects I work on. I am also a Green Team Leader in our Poland office, and I’m very happy that the company is so strongly committed to ESG and sustainable activities.

Working on designs related to national security is a prestigious and exclusive opportunity and at the same time provides me with interesting challenges to solve.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

My favorite project at AECOM, which I’m still working on, is the design of the U.S. Army V Corps’ headquarters in Poznan, Poland. It’s a challenging project for which we started work in 2019.

The design goal of this project is to provide architect-engineer services required for complete preparation of design documents for construction. As designers, we must ensure that the design is compatible with applicable U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR) / V Corps, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Host Nation (HN) requirements. The scope of work includes the renovations of three buildings, exterior measures and core facility components, and the organization’s parking lot.

Like all of DoD projects, it requires a unique approach to design documentation development following the U.S. Army Standards. On this project, we have to implement several design features such as:

  • Interior / spatial design including placement furniture, fixtures, and equipment required by end user
  • Various security measures
  • Unique structural solutions
  • Biddability, constructability, operability, environmental, and sustainability requirements

We also have a lot of interesting and challenging design issues, such as:

  • Obtaining clearances – AECOM Poland had to receive approval to process classified information granted by the Polish Internal Security Agency (ISA) and proper certification
  • Site coordination with six ongoing projects that within the base area with impact on site design coordination and building design solutions
  • Proper preparation of construction phasing
  • Design of specified security zones and operations area of administrative facilities for special use of space

Working on this project has been an extraordinary professional learning experience for me – not only regarding working with our client, the U.S. Government, but also because of the approach to managing a project in an optimal way, where the different phases are very time-driven. Furthermore, working with an international team of specialists from Poland, Spain, Germany and the U.S. has made my experience even more rewarding.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

One of the greatest benefits of working on DoD projects is the opportunity to directly impact and influence local communities as well as the world at large. The work that is done in the DoD has a mission that impacts people, places, technology, innovation, safety and security. And it’s not just related to increasing security within Europe or around the world, but also to the development of communities in places where DoD projects are located, through new jobs or infrastructure development.

A very good example of a positive impact on the community is the project in Poznan described above, thanks to which cooperation between the Polish and American governments has increased. The current base is undergoing many upgrades due to the presence of the V Corps. The number of soldiers stationed in Poznan has also increased, which has had a positive impact on the increased need for rental housing, the creation of new restaurants, which contributes to the increase in job opportunities for the local community.

I also can’t forget about my activities in the Green Team and the implementation of the ESG strategy. I’m especially proud to work with fantastic people who care about the needs of the communities we serve.

Share a piece of career advice

Career success depends on your willingness to learn.

Demonstrating a willingness to learn is a great way to prove your commitment to your company and your role. It shows that you have the drive, self-discipline and motivation to enhance your skills and abilities.

In every role, you’re almost always learning more than you think. Every role I have fulfilled was a fantastic learning experience on multiple levels.

Watch others – so much of what you learn in any job is through osmosis. You can’t truly learn professionalism or leadership by taking a class — you develop those traits over time. And the best way to build them is by working with people who already have those qualities in spades. When you meet someone with a skill you’d like to develop, listen to the way they talk about issues, present their solutions, or work through conflict.

Some of the best lessons you’ll learn will come from observing others work through tough situations. Don’t forget to learn from your own or team experience – lessons learned is the best way to close any project.

If you decide that you’ve picked up all you can, then don’t be afraid to make the leap and continue to learn and grow elsewhere. Setup goals, choose the right tools to help you achieve them, identify people who can support you in your journey – mentors who will support you with advice.

Originally published Mar 1, 2023

Author: Agata Kałużyńska