March 03, 2019

Small-town Girl Leads Big-time Projects

To kick off Women in Construction Week, we're spotlighting Clark's Megan Calhoun! 

As Preconstruction Director, Megan, a 17-year Clark veteran, manages various aspects of project development in Clark's Western Region and currently leads project development for the Cedars-Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital. 

Preconstruction Director Megan Calhoun

Where did you grow up?  

I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania in a small town called Bethel 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia. Growing up, Bethel had one street light (don’t let that fool you, we had running water!) The town has since upgraded to two streetlights and several full-time police officers.

Where did you go to school? 

I went to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and received my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering with a focus in Structural Engineering. I went on to get my Master’s Degree in Management Science, a mix between an MBA and a Master's in Industrial Engineering. 

How did you find out about Clark?

My best friend in college interned with Clark in Southern California and touted about his experience with the organization. This really pushed me to interview with Clark. 

What was your first project at Clark?

I started as an Office Engineer at 1201 Eye Street, a core and shell office building in Washington, DC. I joined toward the end of the project and worked on close-out and subcontractor settlements.

What is a typical work day like for you?

I don’t have a typical work day (which I love about my job!) Some days I am in meetings all day with trade contractors, architects, engineers, and clients to work through solutions to whatever the latest challenge may be. Other days I get to focus more on strategy for either current projects or upcoming pursuits.

At the core of my daily activities is supporting Clark's vision to have the best project development approach and group in the industry.

Describe one of your biggest professional challenges. 

One of the hardest things for me to overcome professionally was learning that a solution that achieves only 80% of the objectives, but keeps the project or design moving, is a success.

To quote Clark Western Region CEO Richard Heim, “I can forgive the aggressive mistake but have no tolerance for the passive ones.” This really resonated with me over the years and has freed me from the eternal quest for perfection.

What is a success you are most proud of?

Hands down, seeing the individuals in Preconstruction take off in their careers, and knowing that I have helped contribute to their growth.

What is your favorite project and why?

Caltrans District 7 Headquarters

I can’t limit it to just one. Both the design-build Los Angeles Federal Courthouse (LAFCH) and the design-build Caltrans District 7 Headquarters have special places in my heart.

The Caltrans District 7 Headquarters project was my first job on the West Coast (thank you to Joe Conover). I had the opportunity to manage the performance mock-up and subsequently the entire enclosure for this iconic building designed by Morphosis Architects's Thom Mayne, a Pritzker Prize recipient. 

It was on this project that I was introduced to Marc Kersey, Richard Heim, and the rest of the Western Region. This experience solidified my desire to stay on the West Coast and propelled me to get involved with the front-end. 

Los Angeles Federal Courthouse

One of my first assignments in Preconstruction after Caltrans 7 was to be the enclosure estimator on the original bid for the LAFCH, a similarly high-profile project and design. The original procurement was cancelled by GSA, but I was excited to have been put in charge of a $20-30 M trade. Five years later, I was given the opportunity to lead the estimate for the revived courthouse, with a reduced program and a pure design-build.

Working with another high-profile architecture firm, we knew we had to “go big or go home” so the “cube” was born.

What is the meaning of true leadership?

Thinking about those you are leading before yourself, providing a vision for team members to get excited about, and doing the right thing even if it isn’t the popular option.

Do you have a mantra or professional motto?

Do to others as you would have them do to you.