Sean Thibeault, Vice President in Alberici’s Canadian division, is celebrating 16 years with Alberici this month. In honor of this milestone, we asked him to share about his time at Alberici and in the Industry.
You’ve been in the construction industry for 23 years. How has the industry changed during that time?
There have been many advancements in equipment, software, materials, construction techniques, technology etc. however communication is the highest on the list. If you look at the tools we have, in a very short time we have gone from cell phones that were the size of a brief case to now using iPhones, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and everything you need electronically at your fingertips. It’s amazing how many people you can keep in the loop and at the rapid speed we operate.
You’ve been involved in a diverse group of projects ranging from automotive plants, to water treatment facilities, to power plants. How has this diverse experience helped you?
Our diversified portfolio is one of the things that makes Alberici a great company. To be afforded the opportunity to work in multiple markets has been one of the greatest benefits and challenges in my career. I learn something new every day. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with great teammates, dealt with a wide variety of owners & engineers and liaised with every possible trade union. I learned new construction techniques, worked in interesting geographical locations with varied climatic challenges. Most importantly, I learned how to keep my head on a swivel while driving through deer and moose infested country.
In your time at Alberici, which project was your favorite and why?
They were all good projects. If you take a step back and look at what we do day in and day out, it’s very impressive. Where else can a group of teammates receive a set of documents that someone has conceptualized then build it in remote locations, safely and on time? That’s something I am proud of.
Our business can be described as “time sensitive construction” with a new challenge every day. There are always challenges, the unexpected, and a few head scratchers. Having said that, isn’t that why we do it? The challenge.
What piece of advice would you give someone just starting out in the construction industry?
Take one day at a time and find a good mentor or teammate you can talk with. I’ve been fortunate to have several great mentors who have been a tremendous resource. I run ideas by them, hear their perspectives and observe how they manage situations. The best mentors are those who don’t tell you want you want to hear, but rather provide you with a different perspective and allow you to draw your own conclusion for the right answer. I borrowed that line from a fortune cookie.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Construction has always fascinated me. What we do is very unique. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. As a child I used to hang around construction sites and watch the heavy equipment in operation while houses and structures were being built. Big excavators, cranes, and other large equipment drew my attention. As I got older it shifted to the sequencing of construction. I would often ask myself “how did they build that?”, then try to figure out how it was done.
To this day when I see a building, power plant, bridge, old church, etc., I always think to myself, “how do all those pieces go together?” An example of this is when I ruined the tour guide’s day at Stonehenge (yes the Stonehenge in England). He commented that no one knows how this was built. I took this as a challenge and figured out a pretty simple way to do it. By the end of the tour I shared it with the group. He couldn’t counter the idea and needless to say was not pleased with me. The secret to building Stonehenge is “free labour”. You can move a lot of dirt with free labour.