BUILDING IT BETTER: As a senior project manager for Gilbane Co., Karen Colby uses Lean manufacturing principles to help her team deliver what clients want, when they want it and with the greatest value.
For Karen Colby, senior project manager at Gilbane Co., her focus on continuous improvement and her abilities to harness the power of collaboration have proven to be the keys to success in all of her work on construction and engineering projects.
Colby has championed Lean manufacturing at Gilbane – formulating it into a strategy to deliver what the client wants, when they want it, with maximum value and minimum waste.
In the past, Colby said, the construction industry “has often been very siloed and confrontational.” Using Lean [management] processes of expending resources to create value for the customer makes for a better project and better project managers, she said. “We’re taking the process in a much more collaborative direction, really accomplishing our [objectives] by what we bring to the table,” she said.
A graduate of Case Western Reserve University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Colby has worked at Gilbane for 15 years. She had initially pursued a major in biomedical engineering, but changed to construction and civil engineering after spending too much time, as she put it, walking along the sidewalk watching the new library construction on campus.
She is certified as a LEED AP, BD+C engineer, a top standard for professionals participating in the design and construction phases of high-performance, healthful, durable, affordable and environmentally sound commercial, institutional and high-rise buildings. Colby is currently preparing to become a certified construction manager through the Construction Management Association of America.
Colby has worked on numerous Rhode Island construction projects for Gilbane, including projects for Fidelity Investments, Cox Communications and Amgen.