Mile High Climber: Sarah McGarry, Senior Director, Senior Project Manager at Stantec



Mile High CRE is thrilled to announce that the December Mile High Climber is Sarah McGarry, Senior Director and Senior Project Manager at Stantec. Mile High Climbers are industry professionals who innovate, inspire, collaborate and take risks. They are future leaders and agents of change, and they deserve to be celebrated.

During her time at Stantec, Sarah evolved into a key role that allows her to wear multiple hats. She leads and oversees the project design and the design team itself, as well as project management from concept and programming to construction administration. Sarah is also part of the Interiors Executive Team and leads the business development of Stantec Interior Studio in Denver.

1. How did you start your career in the AEC / CRE industry?

I studied interior design and architecture in college and after graduation I knew I wanted to start my career as a designer in the commercial field. I started with an A / E company in Cincinnati, Ohio where I focused on corporate workplace interiors. I found myself liking the corporate side and when I moved to Denver in 2007 I was looking for a company that had a practice of interior design for the workplace with the opportunity to be exposed to other aspects of the workplace. industry.

2. How many years have you worked in the industry?

17 years professionally.

3. What have been your favorite / proudest professional projects or accomplishments?

Of course, times like when my team took top honors (Best of the BEST) for our BPX HQ project at the annual IIDA BESTawards top my list as a moment of professional pride. Just like seeing my work published in magazines. But in all fairness, (even after so many years) the greatest sense of accomplishment comes from stepping into a project right after completion and hearing the enthusiasm of the client and those who occupy it. ‘space. It’s living proof that the challenges, teamwork and creative thinking were worth it.

4. What were the biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?

In 2017, the firm I had worked for my entire career in Denver (RNL) was acquired by Stantec and simultaneously my boss and mentor for a decade retired. It was a lot of changes all at once but also a lot of possible opportunities for me. I had several stimulating projects that I was leading and with the departure of my boss, I moved into a position where I had to take care of a lot of business development for my team. Not to mention that I had a new baby and a 5 year old at home. Finding a balance with my family was therefore another challenge. It was a sink or swim point and at times overwhelming pressure!

During this time, I worked to gain ground by building on the solid foundation my former boss had instilled in me (in fact, I still regularly refer to his wisdom!) And I started by appealing to my established network to establish BD connections. As cliché as it sounds, I think staying positive and always believing in the present moment was also essential – don’t underestimate how your attitude can lead to success. After a few years of hard work and perseverance, I was appointed director at Stantec.

5. What advice would you give to an emerging AEC / CRE professional?

Be authentic ! I firmly believe that always being yourself in the workplace is the only way to ensure that you are on the right track. If you are yourself, you will be more confident, your career relationship will be genuine, and you will enjoy what you do. If a company’s culture doesn’t match who you are, it might be a sign that it’s not the right solution.

Be a sponge! Sit in the meetings and listen. Observe who is in the roles you aspire to. Be open to learning as much as possible from the start. Find a mentor and ask lots of questions.

Be proactive! At the start of your career, no one expects you to have all the answers, but those who get creative and come to the table with ideas for a solution (even if it’s not fair) are always more successful. quick as those who sit and wait for someone else to tell them what to do.

Build your network! Ultimately, people want to work with those they love and trust. It is therefore essential to establish meaningful relationships in your career. These are the people who will accompany you throughout your career.

6. What are some of your goals for the future?

After a few years of keeping a low profile in the midst of the pandemic, I hope to get more involved in the community and get involved by giving back to a few non-industrial causes that I’m passionate about.

Continue to build and lead a team that will push and innovate with design and provide my team with opportunities to learn and grow. Oh, and find the balance… I’m still working on it.

7. What professional associations or non-profit organizations have you been actively involved in throughout your career?

IIDA (International Interior Design Association) – I served on the board for seven years, including the role of section president.

CREW – I was involved in their mentoring program

CoreNet – I have been involved in their Young Professional Committee and have continued to attend events over the years. Including participation in their Virtual Hackathon 2020.


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