I would describe myself as an adventurer who thrives on challenge and growth. This personality trait has translated well in my career as an engineering and construction project manager, and in dealing with the complex issues that come with seeing a project through from conception to completion. Growing up in Canada, I knew that I wanted to work internationally and was attracted to pursuing global opportunities; however, I wasn’t always sure I wanted to enter into a career of project management.

I graduated from the University of Lethbridge with Bachelor of Management and Bachelor of Science degrees in International Management and Mathematics. After graduation, I was unsure of what career to begin and how my degrees would apply to the real world. I started out in project controls as a cost controller working with the numbers and trends that play a major role in project management decisions. Starting out in this position, being able to understand, analyze and question project financials has been invaluable and has contributed to my success as a project manager.

As someone who always seeks new adventures, the fact that I would never be bored as a project manager drew me to my current career. A project manager must be able to work with a variety of stakeholders and be able to face complex challenges in diverse environments. Each project provides a unique opportunity to learn something new and be better prepared for success on the next one.

The ability to travel, live and work in different regions around the world also attracted me to the world of engineering and construction. The first seven years of my career allowed me to move from Canada to Maine and eventually to join Burns & McDonnell in our Philadelphia and Calgary offices. Experiencing a country outside of the one I was raised in, as well as working with so many different types of teams and clients, allowed me to develop my skills as a project manager and find a career that fits well with my passions and ambition.

My advice for someone beginning an engineering or construction career is to spend time gaining field experience, to not be afraid to bring passion and intensity to your work, and to remain open to all opportunities. Gaining this valuable work experience helps you become an essential team player, better understand your clients’ needs and build strong relationships with those around you. Being part of a team to physically build something is one of the most satisfying parts of my job.

Cayley Gunn is a project manager at Burns & McDonnell. With more than a decade of experience, Cayley has managed a variety of electrical transmission and distribution projects for multiple clients.