PMA People

Q&A with our People

Deborah Shaer

, Boston

What current project(s) are you working on?

I am currently supporting owner’s project management (OPM) services for the Shrewsbury Beal Elementary School, Saugus Middle-High School, and Sharon High School Projects. All of these projects are made possible by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), a quasi-independent government authority that funds capital improvement projects for K-12 public schools in the Commonwealth.

Do you get to do something at work every day that you love? If so, what is it?

I enjoy managing the cost controls on my projects such as updating total project cost reports, preparing the Propays (MSBA reimbursement submissions) for our clients, reviewing contractor potential change orders, and monthly requisitions. I like working with numbers as it gets the project team (architect, OPM, contractor) paid and gets the Districts their MSBA grant reimbursements. All this keeps the projects moving. Nothing can slow down a project more than an impediment to cash flow.

What is your career highlight so far? (at PMA?)

On the Tahanto Middle/High School project (Tahanto) for the Berlin-Boylston Regional School District, the entire project team – contractor, owner, architect, all of us – was able to come together and split the cost of donating used furniture, sports equipment, textbooks, etc. to an underprivileged school district in Jamaica. It was a wonderful endeavor for all of us to get done.

Donations were made possible by a company called IRN: The Reuse Network (IRN), a recycling center that matches surplus furniture and equipment with charities and nonprofits around the world. Tahanto was the first project PMA collaborated with IRN on, and we continue to do so on current projects such as the Saugus Middle-High School. I think this is one of the greatest things PMA and our clients do.

What is something new or innovative happening in your industry that makes you excited about the future?

For many K-12 projects, PMA contracts services led by Multivista which specializes in visual construction documentation. Multivista visits the project site during construction and takes pictures as the project is being built. The photos get “assigned” to their respective location in the new building via association with the construction drawings. The client then has access to a website that allows them to see how the building was constructed and to see what is behind the walls, ceilings, etc. This is a helpful tool for whenever future renovations to the building might be needed. This is an exceptionally helpful tool for facilities managers of these new schools as well.

What was a transformative project or challenge that you did at PMA?

I developed a “Communication Plan” template that has been utilized by multiple PMA projects to satisfy the MSBA’s requirement at the beginning of all of our K-12 projects for a Communications Plan.

Who/what inspires you to push yourself? (Personal heroes, family members, ideas)

My family – Mom, sister, brother-in-law push me to be the best I can.

What university or college did you graduate from?

BA in Communications from Simmons College, Boston (now Simmons University)
My degree in communications has contributed greatly to my work in the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (A/E/C) industry. Accurate, timely, consistent, and clear communication, both written and oral, is essential in any industry. In our industry of construction with so many moving pieces, parts, and “players” to the projects, it is imperative that the OPM as the client’s “gate-keeper” to all project entities (architects, architect’s engineers, contractor, the public, town departments, owners, etc.) be able to craft concise, understandable correspondence to keep all project stakeholders informed of project developments.

What is your favorite local establishment/feature (restaurant, museum, stadium, etc.)?

I like the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I like Fenway Park and the Red Sox too.

Provide a fun fact about yourself?

I am a huge animal lover and give automatic monthly donations to several animal charities including Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), World Wildlife Federation (WWF), and World Animal Protection.