PMA People

Q&A with our People

Saumil Maniar

, New York

What current project(s) are you working on? 

I am currently working on three projects – NYC MTA’s East Side Access project, which was also the very first project that I worked on in 2010 when I joined PMA. My second project is an AirTrain program for a New York area airport, and the third is providing estimating services for widening an interstate highway in the western region of the US. This is my first project located in that area.

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

As a cost estimating professional, I work on several large capital construction programs. In the process of reviewing or developing estimates I learn what scope of work forms the major cost drivers. As an advisor to our clients, it brings me small bits of satisfaction when I identify items that could be value engineered, thereby helping our clients get the most bang for their buck.

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

One of my career highlights is that I was responsible for developing a $1.5 billion capital cost estimate for one of our clients. I was able to turn this around with help from a team of PMA members and our subconsultants.

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

Cost estimating is typically a hyper-local profession, e.g. when we report that an item costs $ X, that value is representative of the location, for a defined project scope, to be performed in a particular time period. Historically clients have expected estimators to be local, but with improved communication technologies, and advancing database software, this expectation is changing. Cost estimators with specific skillsets can be located nationally. It is exciting to see how this profession is getting industrialized to meet economies of scale.

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

I am currently working on a project, where the PMA team is spread across multiple time-zones. Not only the project is in a different time-zone, but a team member is in a time-zone that is 12 hours ahead of me. I believe this is a very transformative way of doing cost estimates, as they are usually hyper-local.

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

I have always looked up to my mother and her progress over the years. Her career trajectory and motivation as a single mother with two kids is amazing. More than that, her emphasis on choosing the option that does good rather than harm has been a guiding force for me personally and professionally.

What university or college did you graduate from?

I graduated with my master’s degree from Virginia Tech. Go Hokies!

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

I have a 2-year-old son, and in pre-Covid times one of our favorite local spots was the Liberty Science Center. It has a perfect mix of experiences to keep us both happy all day long. In post-Covid times, I would recommend the IMAX Dome Theater at the center.

Provide a fun fact about yourself?

I am ethnically Indian, but I come from a part of the country where main courses are sweetened and not spiced up. I love to see how my non-Indian friends and colleagues react when I tell them that I don’t do spicy food.

Do you have any secret talents?

I have commercially sold a few paintings, but my wife continues to win our debates on the color palette.