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Meet Jennifer Pinck of Pinck & Co.

Jennifer Pinck, President of Pinck & Co., reviews drawings for a new dormitory with Jane Moulding, the head of The Cambridge School of Weston.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Pinck.

Jennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I began working in the building trades as a commercial painter during the late ‘70s – a time when there was a great deal of male animosity toward women who were trying to break into the construction industry. I knew from the beginning it was going to be difficult and that I needed a thick skin and round shoulders if I wanted to survive in this industry.

I remember one day while I was on scaffolding, I looked down and saw a man with a white hat and clipboard. I knew in that moment I wanted to work my way up into that position. A few years later, I did just that – I landed a job as a field engineer with a large commercial contractor. In 1986, I was promoted to construction superintendent, working on high-rise and historic renovations in downtown Boston. That same year, I acquired a Boston ABC Building License–the first woman to do so, and I also received an MBA from Simmons College.

Over the next several years I worked on two of the country’s largest and most complex public works projects: the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s (MWRA) Boston Harbor Project and Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project, a.k.a. the Big Dig. As construction manager for the MWRA, I had oversight for planning, design, construction, and program management tasks to meet court-ordered milestones for the massive clean-up of the harbor. As mitigation manager for the Big Dig, I directed a staff responsible for designing, implementing, and monitoring programs that managed construction impacts on the city’s neighborhoods.

A few years later, after honing my project management skills on two renowned and highly-scrutinized projects, I realized that my unique industry perspectives, experiences, and credentials positioned me to do something different. In 1998, I founded Pinck & Co. – an Owner’s Project Management (OPM) firm, which specializes in planning, design, and construction management consulting services for non-profit, public sector and institutional owners and developers. I wanted to create a company with an inclusive culture – that would become a place where I would want to work.

Many of our clients are busy running their organizations and typically don’t have the time, full range of expertise, and/or resources in-house to oversee projects. Or, if they do, they need to augment their staff.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being in the very male dominated industry, was, and still is, a challenge. When I started out, I faced many obstacles breaking into construction. While I was working on large commercial projects throughout New England, I was the only woman on each team and encountered a great deal of hostility. It was often brutal, and on many occasions I was totally ostracized. There was one long-term job where the other field engineers refused to speak to me for an entire year. Even when my colleagues were not overtly hostile, I was constantly made to feel as though I didn’t belong.

I also endured harsh conditions, such as extreme cold being on the fortieth floor of a building going up in the middle of winter. I looked beyond the present and knew I would continue to face many adverse situations, but I was determined to succeed. Those experiences helped me develop even more resiliency and encouraged me to constantly seek out new challenges, organizations, positions, and responsibilities. There are five beliefs that I live by: perseverance, embracing change, a commitment to community, upholding personal values, and getting things done.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Pinck & Co. – what should we know?
As an OPM, we handle everything from concept to close-out, providing comprehensive planning, design, and construction management consulting services to help our clients maximize the value of their capital investments. Our firm has developed a top-notch reputation working for some of the region’s premier organizations, such as New England Center and Home for Veterans, Northeastern University, Boston Public Schools, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Greater Boston Food Bank, and City Year Headquarters.

Our trademark is representing the owner’s best interests throughout each phase. We work closely with all stakeholders to integrate the many complicated, multi-faceted elements that exist on each project. Our staff is diverse and accomplished in their fields, bringing to every project real-world practical experience as architects, engineers, and contractors. From the beginning, our goal has been to partner with organizations to build more affordable housing and create more sustainable buildings for educational, non-profit, mixed-use development, and institutional buildings. We have achieved that.

I am most proud of my staff – of our mission-driven philosophy and our many wide-ranging accomplishments over the past 20 years. I’m proud that 80 percent of our clients are repeat clients, and that we have worked with more than 300 clients totaling more than $5 billion in construction value since 1998. We have grown every year and remain an independent firm – we haven’t been gobbled up by a national corporation. I’m proud of the relationships we’ve cultivated with our public officials and private partners to build better communities.

Today, my firm competes with national companies and wins. At any moment in time we are managing almost half a billion dollars in projects from Boston to the Berkshires to Connecticut. From our commitment to values and to community we are different, and we thrive because of that. I seek out and hire talent and experience—and unlike any of my competitors we are 66 percent women. I see what others overlook, and I know one can survive—and achieve—with focus, passion, and commitment.

In 2016, we received an Inner City 100 Award for the fifth time, earning a “Hall of Fame” designation from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). This award recognizes the fastest-growing inner city businesses across the United States. We were also recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. on the business publication’s annual Inc. 5000 lists.

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least about our city?
I like that we have mountains, we have the ocean, and a nice central location in New England. I like that despite the impacts on parking spaces, every fall about 500,000 young people come back into the city. It keeps us young and brings new, fresh ideas. We’re very fortunate to enjoy a diverse and innovative economy with so many medical, academic, and biotech organizations – it makes for an interesting and progressive culture. We’re fortunate to have such an intelligent mix of businesses, institutions, and communities.

What I like least about our city is that we need better public transit to keep our economy thriving. We also need to improve the city’s education system. I give a lot of credit to Mayor Walsh. I think he’s working on that mission in a new fashion – in a way that prior administrations did not. I think that income inequality and housing prices are two trends that are going to threaten our economy. Students are going to move away. They’re not going to become homeowners and have families here because it’s too expensive. We’ll have the very rich and the very poor, and I think we need to keep that in mind. I will say that we have elected officials who are attuned to this situation.

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As project manager for Castle Square, Pinck & Co. had oversight for a 500-unit affordable housing development in Boston’s South End.
Pinck & Co. was project manager for the relocation of City Year’s “Headquarters for Idealism,” the permanent home for the community service organization.In 2016, Pinck & Co. received its fifth Inner City 100 Award, which recognizes the fastest-growing inner city businesses across the country. Some of Pinck & Co. staff, from left: Melissa Martinez, Ethan Butler, Larry Borins, Alicia Toney, Elle Goody, Larry Berger, and Jennifer Pinck.
Pinck & Co. was project manager for the New England Center and Home for Veteran’s $35 million renovation and reconfiguration in downtown Boston. Jennifer is pictured with Andrew McCawley, NECHV’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Pinck & Co. was project manager for the $52 million redevelopment of the 160,000-square-foot YWCA on Clarendon Street.

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