What makes for a great construction Superintendent? Is it impressive organization skills? A knack for leadership? Attention to detail? Years of knowledge and experience? Top-notch problem solving abilities? A design-build mentality?
Whatever combination of the above answers these questions, Superintendent Jolene Zychowski checks all the boxes! As an added bonus, she also has a bigger-than-life personality which you quickly discover if you have the opportunity to work alongside her.
Having worked three decades in the field, Jolene applies her professionalism and “can-do” attitude to each project she undertakes. In the couple of years that she’s worked as an MRG Construction Corp Superintendent, she has led multiple teams, successfully navigated countless obstacles, and worked on a variety of commercial construction projects. In a recent interview with Jolene, she shared how she got started in this industry, some of her favorite memories of projects past, and the most important commercial construction lesson learned after 30 years of experience.
Beginnings in Construction
Jolene grew up in the South suburbs of Chicagoland and said that, from a noticeably young age, she had considered herself to be an adventurous child with an interest in building and creating. Throughout the years, Jolene would often partake in activities like carpentry and construction alongside her father, the man responsible for igniting her passion for building. As a young adult entering the workforce, Jolene decided to pursue a trade. Therefore, she enrolled in the Carpenter Apprenticeship Program in Northwest Indiana from 1993-1997.
As of 2023, Jolene has officially served as a union carpenter by trade for 30 years. Following her time in the apprenticeship program, Jolene began working on more complex projects such as bridgework and high-rises and incorporated modern construction technologies into her professional practices. Over the next few years, she gradually found herself accepting higher positions for more substantial projects. In 2004, Jolene stepped into the position title that she carries with her today – Superintendent.
When asked what her most memorable project was, she proudly answered, “Britton Budd Apartments.” This apartment complex is located beside Lake Michigan in the historic Chicago Neighborhood of Lake View East. This project, though an honor to work on, was remarkably high maintenance and demanding, and it required a Superintendent with years of experience to navigate complex environments and issues. It also demanded leadership abilities enough to simultaneously manage the operations of dozens of teams.
Jolene was recruited for this hefty $29 million project because of her ability to perform well in high-pressure situations, to efficiently communicate, to manage a large team, and because of her extensive knowledge of the field. This 11-story housing project required the structure to be entirely gutted, several historic features within the building to be restored, and the remaining areas to undergo a remodel. Over the course of thirteen months, Jolene and her team transformed the apartment building, giving it a new lease on life. In the interview Jolene fondly recalled the experience as she detailed the many highs and occasional lows of the project. To say that Jolene thrives under pressure is an understatement!
As for her most memorable MRGC project to date, she selected the Norridge, IL Starbucks, which you can read more about by clicking here.
Decades of experience in the construction industry have taught Jolene dozens of valuable lessons, both professionally and personally. To newcomers to construction management, she advises adopting a design-build approach, a significant philosophical shift in mindset among construction professionals. This approach streamlines the construction process by fostering collaboration, improving efficiency, and improving communication. Design-build also aids superintendents in interpreting their client’s vision and therefore, helps them to accurately achieve the desired end-result. A design-build approach makes the commercial construction process more efficient, and projects that involve individuals that utilize design-build are bound to benefit from it.
Jolene Zychowski is a talented superintendent who prides herself on producing high-quality results for every client. She serves as a fantastic female role model for young women have an interest in pursuing a career in the construction industry. Her dedication, confidence, eagerness to continuously learn and grow, and lifelong passion for creation make her an asset to any team – especially the MRGC team.