By Katherine Springle Lempka
Assistant Director of Publications
In our ongoing series of RCI member profiles, this month we interviewed Julie McDonald of Building Envelope Consulting, LLC.
Julie McDonald joined Building Envelope Consulting, LLC (BECLLC) in July of 2014. She is a member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Northern Virginia, and recently earned her Registered Exterior Wall Consultant (REWC) certification from RCI, Inc. She has been active with RCI since 2014 and is a member of the Emerging Professionals Committee.
Can you give me a brief overview of what you do in your day-to-day job?
I manage all of our building envelope consulting services for new construction, plan review, quality assurance, and performance testing.
What do you like most about your job?
I love meeting young field engineers and summer interns on projects and sharing my knowledge of building envelope science during our site visits. I like solving detailing problems with the contractors. When a design [is] insufficient, [I enjoy] solving problems in the field with the people putting the work in place.
Rainy days. No one’s building, and I’m not going anywhere.
How did you end up where you are today?
I started working for a general contractor (GC) [right] out of college, and when the industry suffered in 2008, I needed to find a change. I used a little of my unemployment time to finish grad school, and then was picked up by a consulting engineering firm. They had a need to develop their service, and with my background in construction, it was a natural fit to begin working with contractors to solve envelope problems. And I absolutely love the path that life has chosen for me. [When I was] a field engineer for a GC, I was a quality control engineer. As a consultant, I do quality assurance. So [consulting] is a natural fit for me.
Can you tell me a little about your involvement with RCI?
I joined RCI in 2014 when I joined BECLLC. My boss is Mike Williams, who is, of course, amazingly supportive of the organization. I started attending Mid Atlantic Chapter events. I attended my first convention in San Antonio in 2015. I am inspired by the people in the organization, and actions and activities that they’re undertaking.
I’m [also] working with local collegiate engineering programs. BECLLC had a meeting with the director of engineering at George Mason University, and got a little more insight into what college kids are looking for. I’ve been working for 10 years. I’m at a good point in my career to talk to young people and speak their language. I love talking to young people and sharing my enthusiasm and love of the industry. It really takes ten years of true work experience, so the time is now to recruit new members.
What kind of technology do you use in assessing damage?
We [at BECLLC] regularly utilize digital moisture meters, infrared cameras, other small hand tools, and measuring devices. We recently adopted the iPad Pro with Bluebeam® Revu, which allows us to easily do markups on photographs and PDFs. Ten years ago, I would haul my entire set of plans out, and now I’m just using an iPad Mini. The Pro is almost the size of a laptop, but it’s great to bring to coordination meetings. You can zoom in, sketch, and add notes onto drawings, and it reduces the turnaround time of communicating.
What drives you?
I like feeling there is a need and a purpose for our services. There is a Venn diagram that I have posted over my desk. “You love it, the world needs it, you get paid for it, you are great at it,” and in the middle is “purpose.” It’s my mission, it’s my profession, and it’s my purpose.
What are your hobbies?
I love camping. I have two boys who are four and six, so we camp as many weekends as we can all summer. I also volunteer with a women’s group in my town to plan community events.
What is one thing most of our readers probably don’t know about you?
I have a bachelor’s degree in historical preservation. I spent a summer interning at the Preservation Society of Newport County, working on several of the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island.
If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
I think I would spend more time camping with the family, and I would spend more time volunteering for the organizations that I support.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with RCI’s members?
I’m heavily involved with Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Northern Virginia, which is part of CREW network, and it’s an organization that supports women in the field of commercial real estate. I’ve been involved in that organization for six years.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to find young people, inspire them, mentor them, and train them – to [become] our replacements so we can grow our own small businesses.