Claudia Thijs is the Director of Global Field Marketing at OpenSpace, where she bridges sales and marketing and leads a talented team of marketers who are helping more builders discover the benefits of reality capture. MR: Thanks so much for spending some time with us, Claudia. Let’s get to know you a bit better!…
Meet Meghan Reilly, Whose Fascination with Buildings Set Her Path
March 31st, 2023
Meet our March 2023 Pathfinder, Meghan Reilly, a talented problem-solver who works as a Project Manager at Shawmut Design and Construction. Meghan’s passion for helping her clients and coworkers be successful and her lifelong sense of curiosity are propelling a rewarding and challenging career in construction.
Small-town life and big-city dreams
Meghan hails from the seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts, located on an island about an hour northeast of Boston. “It’s a small, rural fishing town,” she shares, “and my family is fourth-generation, so we have a lot of history there.”
Meghan was a naturally curious child and loved building with K’NEX toys and LEGO sets, which may have been an early indicator of her eventual career choice. Meghan gradually developed multiple interests and fostered a love of team sports that would serve her well.
“I’ve always loved to dabble in a ton of different things,” Meghan says. “Growing up, I did Irish step dancing and even tried synchronized swimming! I also did gymnastics but decided to give that up after I broke my ankle.”
Discovering her passion for construction
Meghan played sports throughout high school, in addition to having a lot of interests that fueled her sense of curiosity. Meghan was also skilled in math and sciences. By the end of her sophomore year of high school, she already knew she would major in civil engineering, and she never wavered in that decision.
“I was really intrigued by buildings and would have loved to be an architect,” she says, “but I didn’t feel I had the artistic ability. I wasn’t aware of a construction management major at that time, so civil engineering felt like the next best choice and would still allow me to work with buildings in some way.”
Meghan sought out opportunities to gain practical construction industry skills, and a family friend who worked at a civil engineering company helped her land an internship prior to her senior year of high school. Meghan interned at the company for three summers, working 40-hour weeks every summer while her friends were at the beach. Her passion continued to grow, and her dedication and commitment paid off.
Creating a path to a technical education
Meghan had a very happy childhood in an extremely close-knit community with her three siblings, but as she grew up, she began to realize that she also wanted to experience life in a big city. She has family in the greater New York area, and Stevens Institute of Technology’s engineering program met her academic criteria and awarded her several scholarships, so she decided to attend.
As she prepared to enter college and pursue a challenging course load, Meghan had expected she would have little time for anything other than her studies. She soon realized she had time for additional activities, so she leaned into her lifelong love of sports and joined the field hockey team in the spring of her freshman year and played on and off throughout college. Then, in her sophomore year, Meghan joined a sorority. Each member was given a specific role, and Meghan’s position somewhat randomly had her in charge of making T-shirts and overseeing house beautification. Inspired, she ended up building a patio for the sorority house.
Developing valuable skills to shape a fulfilling career
During her internships at the civil engineering firm, Meghan was placed in charge of a telecommunications project that had her going to multiple locations to oversee small jobs all over the city. She scheduled the crews, called Dig Safe to notify the utility company about each project, coordinated with local police for road and highway work, and much more. In the process, Meghan realized she loved this work more than the engineering aspects of her internship, which cemented her decision to pursue a career in construction management.
After Meghan’s sophomore year at Stevens, she wanted to try something different from her prior internship in civil engineering. Meghan started another formative internship, this one for two summers at a construction management firm in Boston, where she discovered her true passion.
Meghan was excited about her new direction but continued with her civil engineering degree. As a result, she gained a strong understanding of structural components—knowledge that would prove quite valuable later in her career.
Finding her place in the industry
Meghan regularly went to career fairs at Stevens and sought out alumni working in construction management to learn about potential career opportunities. One alum encouraged Meghan to apply for a job at Shawmut Design and Construction.
Meghan did her research, and what drew her most to the company, apart from its Boston headquarters, was its rotational Construction Management Skills Training (CMST) program that enables recent college grads to gain first-hand experience in the three main areas of construction—project management, site supervision, and estimating—while gaining a comprehensive understanding of how to run world-class projects. The third year of the program also included a challenging leadership development curriculum that positioned participants for Assistant Project Manager, Assistant Superintendent, or Assistant Estimator roles once they completed their training.
Meghan has been with Shawmut for more than five years now and is really enjoying her experience. “Shawmut is a great company to work for. I love that it’s heavily focused on supporting women and minorities in construction and is also dedicated to sustainability. I also appreciate the flexibility the company offers, allowing people to try new things and explore other roles within the company.”
Meghan has recently relocated to Bentonville, Arkansas, with Shawmut to gain experience on larger-scale projects and is very excited for these next steps in her career.
Strengthening communities through construction
Meghan has benefited from exposure to a wide variety of projects since joining Shawmut. Thus far, Meghan estimates she’s touched more than 20 projects and has worked on at least 10 projects from start to finish. She has worked on everything from coworking spaces, academic, and hospital work to retail—and particularly enjoys working with repeat clients.
“I love working on projects with repeat clients because they know I have already proven I can deliver exactly what they need in the exact way they prefer. I like to be very hands-on with clients, and I’m good at thinking ahead to the way they’re going to use the space and suggesting things they might not have thought of yet.”
Images courtesy of Marymount Manhattan College
Meghan gravitates toward projects where she can add value by delivering beautiful, usable spaces clients can enjoy. At Marymount Manhattan College, Meghan and her team revamped a large space by replacing an 80-foot skylight.
“They had a drop ceiling underneath the skylight, and now it’s such a beautiful art studio. The client was so appreciative and is using the space for learning and culture. In another project for the Newark Public Library, the community was so happy with the result. I’m proud to work on these types of projects because I can bring joy to people. I find these types of projects so fulfilling.”
Using OpenSpace to simplify documentation and improve coordination
Meghan learned about OpenSpace in September 2022. “I’d been working on a project for a retail client in New Jersey that required us to take scans of the space on a weekly basis. A professional 3D scan for a 40,000-foot retail space is costly, and to do it yourself took at least four hours for each store,” she notes.
Around the time this project was starting, Meghan happened to learn that OpenSpace was in use on another Shawmut project. She instantly made the connection that the 360° reality capture solution would be a perfect solution to her problem.
Meghan found OpenSpace intuitive to use, and the technology made her work much easier. “It only took about 10 minutes to walk through the space to get the weekly scans the client needed,” Meghan shares. “And for our own purposes, it was really helpful to be able to look at the space side-by-side with the model and see what was inside walls we had already closed up.”Onboarding OpenSpace for the project was relatively simple, and it wasn’t long before Meghan became an OpenSpace champion, explaining to her clients how OpenSpace would simplify RFIs using the Procore integration and ensure all stakeholders could access the captures and see progress over time using the Split View feature. Once she rolled out OpenSpace on the project, she noticed that coordination improved.
“The client, owner’s rep, design team, and architect all view captures on a regular basis now,” Meghan says. “I will continue to suggest clients use OpenSpace, especially on this series of retail projects, since it’s more effective than what we were previously working with. OpenSpace is an incredible tool, enabling people to view project progress from afar. It also saves money by reducing how often people come out to visit projects.”
“More generally, this kind of 360° documentation is vital. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to go back through my Superintendent’s photos only to discover I don’t have the specific one I need or one that’s three inches to the right or left. Before using OpenSpace, I’d spend nearly every day at the end of a project trying to deal with change orders and recreate the sequencing of events.”
What does being a Pathfinder mean to you?
“Being a Pathfinder to me means having a commitment to innovation and client service excellence,” Meghan shares. “Being able to find new, better, and more cost-effective ways to do things is one of the things I love the most about my job.”
Meghan’s civil engineering background, her grasp of technology on the jobsite, and her natural curiosity and problem-solving skills have helped her excel at anticipating challenges and keeping her clients successful.
Her athletic experience has also made her an incredible teammate working with construction crews. “Being a Pathfinder is also about sharing my knowledge with people and letting people know about a great resource like OpenSpace that can help them. Our clients appreciate that we’re always looking out for them.”
Pathfinders are power users like Meghan who excel at using OpenSpace reality capture. You can check out all of our published Pathfinder Spotlights in the OpenSpace Community gallery. If you’d like to be a Pathfinder, submit your Pathfinder application today.