Q&A: John Sinnott

John Sinnott | Gilbane Building Co. vice president and Rhode Island business unit leader
A college intern at Gilbane, John Sinnott took a short detour to play professional football. Since 2003, he has been in the construction industry, rejoining Gilbane in 2008. He has overseen the South Street Landing project, General Dynamics Electric Boat’s expansion at the Quonset Business Park and The Interlink at T.F Green Airport.


1. What is the career pathway that you have created for young people who want to get into construction/construction management? We have a robust intern and college hire program, where our HR team partners with local colleges to identify young professionals that are beginning their careers in this industry. Interns and college hires are given the opportunity to work under our experienced full-time staff in the field and gain hands-on experience.

2. What types of nontraditional candidates will you consider? Not everyone comes to Gilbane with a construction background, and there are numerous pathways to success. We believe in supporting our team members and allowing them to shine and succeed in areas they are passionate about. Not all of our work is in the field either. We have a robust marketing and sales department, as well as finance, accounting and human resources. Employees working in those divisions come from various backgrounds and bring so much to our business with their different perspectives.

3. Once you have hired a candidate, how much energy do you put into continuing training for them? All Gilbane employees, regardless of tenure, are continuously encouraged to expand their potential. Our internal training organization, Gilbane University, empowers employees to shape their careers and sharpen their minds through a wide range of training and educational programs. Depending on an individual’s career path and interests, unique curriculums are developed and assigned, and employees have the option of completing their yearly 30-hour requirement through web-based workshops or in-person seminars. We offer tuition refunds up to $5,700 per year if the employee wishes to take additional college courses relating to their work.

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4. How many of the people who start at entry-level positions advance in the company? Our internal leadership program, Management Candidate Acceleration Program, is an intensive two-year [course] that provides hands-on experience in a variety of roles and functional areas within Gilbane. Throughout the program, management candidates discover personal strengths and career interests. Success stories include past employees starting as accounting coordinators and, through this program, now serving as operations manager. In fact, the majority of our New England executive leadership team started out in entry-level positions.

5. Do you coordinate with other construction companies in developing the overall workforce in the state? Yes. As a member of the Associated General Contractors we work with our peers to promote the industry and engage young people who may show an interest in our line of work.

6. How much do you work with unions to develop candidates? We partner with BuildRI and Building Futures, organizations that help Rhode Islanders find successful work within the trades through a pre-apprenticeship program.

7. Can you find enough people to fill your needs? Yes, we’re able to attract top talent because of our reputation, our culture, our benefits and our consistent workload.

8. Are you able to attract candidates from outside Rhode Island? Do you want/need to? As the oldest family-run company in the state, we have a long history of welcoming Rhode Islanders into the Gilbane family. That being said, we’ve grown over the years into a global firm with over 45 offices and more than 3,000 employees. This allows us the ability to offer our team members, and qualified candidates, the option of mobility. However, many are attracted to our Rhode Island business unit because it is our global headquarters, which houses our corporate divisions and appeals to individuals from all backgrounds. We are also involved with exciting projects throughout the state, which is a draw within itself.

Mark S. Murphy is a PBN contributing writer.