Fool in the Rain

We moved to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia to join team Vigilant 3 years ago on April 1st. The driving conditions were terrible but we were optimistic. I was nervous moving to a new province that I had only visited once a decade before.  It was a life changing journey that I embarked on with my future wife and pug Roland, both of which had never been to the island. Our families thought we were fools for leaving our home province for Newfoundland, especially since we gave them very little notice. The decision to move to Newfoundland was a quick one, after accepting the position at Vigilant. Within a month my partner and I packed up all of our belongings and moved into an apartment that we had only seen online. As you can imagine, this was a big shock to our friends and family.

This pivotal moment in my life was not lightly taken. I had several video interviews with the team and I felt that my personal goals aligned perfectly with Vigilant’s vision and culture.  The great thing about video interviews is that you can relax at your own house and are only required to have interview attire from the waist up. This allowed me to be comfortable and let my personality shine through.

I love nature and being outside and have absolutely fallen in love with Newfoundland’s scenery, in particular the breath taking East Coast Trail. I try to spend as much time as possible on the trail, often by hiking or Trail Running (fast hiking). Through my hobby of running I’ve learned to look at construction projects as though they are a marathon. A marathon is much more than the time you put up at the end of the race (or date of occupation of the building); it is also the months of training in preparation of the race (pre-design and design phase). What some people don’t realize is that the actual marathon is the easiest part in comparison to the training. Much like a construction project, the more effort that you put into your preparation, the better the race and end result.

The construction phase I visualize as the race. You have to stick to your race plan (drawings & specifications), run at your desired pace (the project schedule), and you have to be able to adjust to unexpected situations as they arise - such as a leg cramp or a surprise discovered within a wall during a renovation.

Vigilant has been with me the whole way and continues to provide the support needed to continue along my path.  They have provided funding and time for me to pursue my educational goals and have encouraged me to complete an MBA . I have grown a lot throughout my time with Vigilant and have accomplished many personal and professional goals including getting my P.Eng and PQS designations, being a project lead on a $4M project, completing an ultra trail marathon, buying a house, and getting married!

My wife and I are very happy that we decided to take the leap three years ago and move to the island, we certainly weren’t April Fools.


Orange Corner

It all came together back in May 2015, when I had my first “chat” at Chapter’s Starbucks with Terry, Krissy, Katherine and Sarah. I remember telling my wife Alice, afterwards, sitting at the Avalon Mall (the staging zone for my first job interview in Canada), how much we had clicked. That I believed I had a chance at working for this odd starting company, swinging above its weight to “fix the construction industry”. It would be an enormous challenge, changing gears from working with electrical high voltage design to working with construction project management. But at that moment I noticed: Canada could – would work. Alice and I had quit everything back in Brazil to try it out here. And after that first meeting with Terry and the gang, I felt the momentum pick up. It would work alright.

And work alright it did. I don’t intend to talk about the roller coaster that is the immigration process to Canada. What I do want to talk about it is how Vigilant stood by me as an anchor, and how the lessons I learned here -  passion, drive, people first, make things right, liking what you do, walking the talk – will steward me on my way forward.

The first thing I was told when I started here -  and throughout these two and a half years – was that Vigilant believes in their employees waking up in the morning excited about work. Construction projects are filled with stressful situations. But to get in your car and drive to the office, and be surrounded by friends who are also your co-workers, and get satisfaction in the results of your effort – that is to be the main drive. Vigilant would like their employees to love what they do.

Like all other companies out there say at recruiting. But lucky me, I made past that stage. And my first year. And my second year. And into the third year, at the company off-site, we were hammering down on the same note: love what you do. Do what you love. Be happy, be fulfilled. I was passing down that message to the new hires, to each work term student that spent a season with us. I saw it daily in Lloyd’s beaming smile, Grant’s explosive laughter, and Terry’s witty remarks. On the “factory floor”, the boys and I always had a good time, no matter how stressful a particular job was. As my time with Vigilant passed, I saw how it dodged the blows of an industry that doesn’t want to be fixed, or took the ones that hit with defying mirth. Writing about it, it makes me think of Muhammad Ali. Fighting and loving every minute of it. Shoulders that floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee.

I can honestly say that after only under three years, the construction industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is being changed. Vigilant is on its way to a heavier weight class, and Owners are becoming increasingly aware that they have someone in their corner. But all those lessons I’ve been living since the beginning, also showed me something: project management was not my calling. As much as I loved the workplace, I yearned for a more technical role. My formation and background became somehow of a nostalgia, and on my way to work everyday, I would go by the massive substation close to the Paradise roundabout, and wish I could visit it. Get to know its workings. Driving back weekly from a project at Upper Island Cove, I’d take a little time to soak in Soldier’s Pond substation. And as much as I loved Vigilant and the people that make it – I realized it was time to act on the very principles that Vigilant taught me.

This is my last day, and a very bittersweet one at that. I move to do what I went to school for. In my cover letter to Vigilant, I said how I loved the buzz of energized high voltage lines, and the crush of a switchyard’s gravel under my boots. And I am going back to that. But hell, will I miss these orange walls! The orange corner where we could retreat to at the end of a round, catch some breath, a sip of water, listen to the coach’s instructions, and go back at it, to fight the good fight.

- John

Month One = Done

Today marks the end of my first month at Vigilant Management, as well as my Sheldon imposed deadline to write a blog post for our website. I’ve been struggling for a couple of weeks now to come up with something blog worthy to write about, considering I have never done this before!

From the age of 14, I’ve been worked numerous jobs in a variety of industries, including 4 work terms prior to this one with Vigilant. I have experience working for large worldwide corporations and small companies alike, yet I have only encountered an environment like the one here at Vigilant once before. It was my very first job, where I worked for a small family run farm for a couple of years. As my time there went by, I developed a strong bond with that family and I still visit them regularly when I return home to this day. Even after only the first 4 weeks of this work term, I can see many similarities forming already.

Beginning right from day one, everyone here has been incredibly kind, and helpful. You can tell that it is a very close-knit group. Mark, John and Todd were quick to take myself and Noah on numerous on-site visits and they’ve put up with our incessant questions regarding the tasks they have sent our way.  Lloyd and Holly have already proved to be valuable resources with their insane amount of industry experience and always have little nuggets of wisdom construction related or not. Sheldon is the lubrication that keeps this office running smoothly, and I’m glad to have him around to talk sports with in order to keep my obsession satisfied! Lastly, Terry has already made me feel comfortable in this environment as well as a valued member of the vigilant team and family, despite my limited contributions so far.

Needless to say, I am eager to become a regular contributor to the team and I’m extremely excited to see how the rest of this work term turns out.  I’m looking forward to working with everyone including my desk neighbor Michelle, and Grant who recently returned from vacation who I haven’t had the chance to work closely with as of yet. Hopefully by the end of it, Vigilant enjoys having me here as much as I have appreciated my time here already. Here’s to the next three months!

-       Will  

Jedi or Junior Project Manager? Hopefully both.

My time at Vigilant so far has been an experience like no other. Somehow, four weeks has flown by and I constantly think about how I need to soak up every moment of the time that I have left. It’s not surprising that my time here has moved fast. The office is such a fun and welcoming environment (and the excessive amount of coffee ingested here obviously has some sort of effect on time). By the end of my first week, I had already been given my first nickname, included in my first emailed meme, and received several comments (all positive) about my ever so curly hair.

That’s not to say that all I’ve done here is have fun. Everyone in the office has been an incredible mentor to me. Without even asking, someone will show me a certain way that Vigilant does things, teach me about the world of project management, or tell me about a valuable lesson they learned one time. In more ways than one, I feel as though I am a young padawan at the jedi temple. It’s funny because I landed this job partly due to my love for Star Wars. I’d like to think so anyway.

Often times I’ll spend more than eight hours in the office. I never feel the need to leave as soon as 5:00 roles around because I genuinely enjoy the work that I do here. Whether its something one of the project managers wants me to do or just something I’ve taken on myself, I never have a problem with putting in some extra time for Vigilant. The reason I have that mindset is all because I’ve never been given an opportunity quite like the one Vigilant has given me. I’ve really been able to explore my capabilities here and with more than half of my work term left, I’m confident that I’ll have a whole new set of skills by the time that I pour my last cup of “joe” at the office.

This company is something else. From budgets to burritos; at Vigilant Management Inc. you’ll hear it all.


Noah Q


Schoolboi NQ, George

A Permanent Obsession

Vigilant has already turned me into a person who I thought really only existed in movies and fictional pieces - a person who... loves their job. Even just typing those words and meaning them is a strange phenomenon to me. I almost can't believe that it's a real life possibility.

I noticed this magical experience was something I was living through multiple occurrences. When my friends would ask me to hang out on a Friday night, it took everything in me to say yes. I would tell them I was too tired from working all week and just needed to relax. They would call and text me begging me to come out, advising me it would be a nice break from the "exhausting" work week I convinced them I had. When in reality I was searching the Google Drive and researching old projects. All I wanted to do was lay in my bed, eat all dressed chips, creep Terry on twitter and learn the ins and outs of Vigilant (sorry Terry that's probably weird). 

I'm taking a course over the spring semester. It's Microeconomics, I think. It honestly could be Macroeconomics; I wouldn't be able to tell you. Every time I sit down and hype myself up to study and read, one thing leads to another and I'm doing an ITP check sheet for Jason. However, wanting to laze around on a Friday night and NOT study are two typical occurrences for me. The epiphany that I truly love what I'm doing developed from a comment made by mom.

It was a Wednesday, gross day outside, of course. I don't think I actually need to include that fact because I'm sure it could be inferred by the simple fact that it's Newfoundland. Anyways, it was gross outside. Over supper my mom asked me my plans for the night. "It's gross out so probably nothing, I have some work to finish up anyways." Her reaction immediately was a little bit of confusion, but mostly worrisome." Chelsea, how much work could you have? You're only a first work term student and you come home every night on that laptop of yours slaving away at your work."

It was at this very moment that I realized no one really understood what was happening. I guess because it's a foreign thing in today's society. Or maybe because I worked a part time job and complained more than I'd like to admit.

A slow smirk formed across my mouth, "Mom, I don't HAVE to do work, I just want to. Work is fun and I enjoy it."

My mom always told me I go through phases of obsession with things. I ate a grilled cheese every day for probably two months. I listened to the song "Passionfruit" by Drake every possible second of every day until one of my head phones broke. I mean I still listened to it through the one working head phone just as much but that's beside the point. My new obsession has become Vigilant Management.

I love the learning atmosphere Vigilant provides me with. I am genuinely excited to finish each task, just so I can be presented with a new and slightly more challenging one. I look forward to not only learning, but making mistakes. I value the time everyone willingly takes out of their day to help me. I am grateful for the constant lame jokes about how young I am and "oh how the times have changed." Overall, I am beyond thankful to genuinely enjoy my job, and to have found a new, much more permanent obsession.

-          Chelsea 

The Totem

There’s something weird that happens when a company embraces vulnerability.

As a work term student, I am always vulnerable. Where I don’t have the knowledge and experience that the people around me possess, I can get more things wrong, I am less trusted in some regard. I am inherently the “bottom of the totem pole”. This is a reality for any intern or work term student in any industry, no matter how much I, or anyone, tries to deny it.

So, being at the bottom of the totem pole, I see the everyday workspace from a difference perspective. Instead of being the eagle at the top who can see the world clearly far and wide, I am usually the exasperated looking totem face on the ground who has two options: either I can see the narrow path in front at ground level, or choose to look up to those I aspire to be.

Many totem poles are either so huge that it’s impossible to see all the way to the top, so that the top can’t see you either. Vigilant’s is gratifyingly small and the top is close enough that I can look up and see those above me, and they can peak down to see and acknowledge me as well.

But a totem pole is a tall, strong structure, hand crafted from hours upon hours of hard work and dedication. What does it have to do with vulnerability? Well, a structure as tall and thin as a totem pole would never survive… if it wasn’t for a strong base.

Vigilant knows construction, and thus, must believe that a strong base is crucial. A very important thing that Vigilant does that many others in the construction industry do not is give strength to their base. Their bottom of the totem pole, the most vulnerable of the tower, so that the whole team can become stronger.

That weird thing that happens when a company embraces the vulnerability of their “bottom” instead of trying to protect themselves from it? They become genuine. A genuine company? I know, weird, right?

They make sure that every member of their team, from top to bottom is respected, accepted and connected. This trust, the trust that all of us share that the team is doing the best work we can for one another creates unity, which in turn heightens the quality of the company’s work. But, more importantly to us, the sense of community improves the quality of life of the person doing the work.

Make no doubt that I have been embraced here. This being my second work term, there was barely any learning curve - I just got swung into the thick of things. Vigilant did not need to state that they thought I was important to them, I just knew I was. How could I not when they trusted me with so many important tasks and projects that made me gain incredibly valuable experience from the very first hour until the last every day; when they treated me and everyone else to free lunch almost weekly; when they listened to what I had to say. There’s a reason we do that here, because we genuinely care and look out for one another, and want to see ourselves thrive together.

They did not try to protect me from failing by giving me easy tasks, instead they pushed my boundaries and taught me how to fix my mistakes. And teach they did. The feedback I would receive was transparent, professional, respectful, and motivating. Anything I did wrong was turned into a positive situation. That is what I mean by embracing vulnerability. By acknowledging what went wrong and sharing how to fix it in a positive manner. I learned more, those who mentored me leaned valuable teaching skills, and as a team we reached a higher level of understanding and trust.

So Vigilant, as I leave with all of the valuable ideas and skills that you have given me I leave you with this: As your totem pole grows taller and taller, keep letting that eagle look far and wide, but no matter how high you reach, never, ever forget to look down. Not only will those at the bottom be forever grateful, but your base will continue to strengthen so that you never collapse, and can continue to be a beacon of what an organization should be so that others can follow your guiding light.

Thank you Vigilant, thank you so much.


Leaders Eat Last

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

When I first started my work term, I was given a list of over ten books read, so I decided it was only fitting to summarize my experience at Vigilant with a quote from one of my personal favorites, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.  

The quote above made me realize that every day from when I started work, until I went home, I was surrounded by a room full of leaders. To me, leadership is an interesting concept. It doesn’t have to solely be the top executives of a company, leadership can be demonstrated through all levels of employees and if I’m going be the definition above, I can say with confidence that everybody in the office shows some form of leadership because they have all inspired me to learn more, do more, become more, and yes… even dream more.

Adam has taught me to always approach things with a positive outlook and see the best in every situation.

Michelle, although I never worked with her in the office, served as a mentor for me and was eager to help with any questions I had.

Sheldon taught me great interpersonal skills when we conducted the interviews together for the engineering students.

Jason showed leadership since his first day of work when he stepped up and fixed my flat tire and came along to the mechanic with me. Not to mention all the tips I’ve received in everything from Ski Trekking to Camping at Gros Morne.

Mark has taught me an array of things, from the political situations going on in the world to the “best movies of all time”

John has taught me all about the world of video games, always being willing to share his computer with me so I could get in a game of Overwatch. He also taught me all the reasons why I should never go to Brazil. LOL!

On my first day, I was told that “Todd is good at everything” and after four months, I agree. Todd has been in a leader in numerous aspects of project management.

Nicole has shown me the ropes in the world of leasing and business development as well as becoming a friend who now shares my love for bubble tea.

Grant, although we never spent a lot of time together, shown me what a strong work ethic looks like as he was always busy with work coming and going with a strong focus.

Lloyd showed me what it means to treat all people with compassion while still knowing how to be assertive in the right situations and not let anybody mess with you. One day I wrote down on a sticky note something I liked that Lloyd said…” You get more with honey than you do with vinegar.”

Last but not least, Terry has shown me how a company should be run. An office culture like Vigilant doesn’t just happen, it is a strategic process that starts with leadership.

Although, all the things I have learned may not have been directly related to my job, they have all been beneficial and have taught me something unique about each of my coworkers and shown how in that moment each of them acted as a leader to me.

I am going to miss my time as Vigilant.

I will miss the matches of Overwatch.

I will miss our birthday celebrations at Boston Pizza.

I will miss the milkshake rewards.

But most of all, I will miss seeing all the people I became friends with every day.

I am sad to have to part ways, but at the same time I am excited. I am excited because I now feel inspired to start my dream of becoming an entrepreneur with my own clothing line that empowers females. I am excited because I now have all these new skills to take with me and apply to the real world. And moreover, I am excited to become my own version of a leader.


People Before Profits

After working at Vigilant for almost two months, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of how things work around here.  I can confidently say that Vigilant is a unique place to work and has a work environment unlike any I’ve experienced before. However, I must admit that I was a little confused at the start and wasn’t exactly sure how I was supposed to go about my day. Lucky for me, I discovered that the learning curve here is very steep and everyone in the office is more than willing to help. I can remember the feeling I got when I walked into the office on my first day, and I think the reason this memory is so vivid is because it didn’t feel like I was walking into an office. It felt more like walking into a house filled with ten of your best friends. From that day forward there was no doubt in my mind that these people didn’t just look at each other like coworkers, but as family- The Vigilant family.

Flash back to day one...I was a bit stressed out because I felt like I had a million little things to remember and didn’t know where to start. I then decided I needed to figure out an approach to best tackle them, so I went to Chapters and bought myself this cute little planner that says “I am very Busy” and just went with it from there. Sometimes you need to be thrown in the deep end from time to time to be challenged and to grow as a student, and this is exactly what they do to me here. Now, I feel as though I’ve adjusted to the chaos and managed to make a routine of things. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are Mail Days, Tuesday is Grocery day (Gotta get that 10% student discount) and Thursday is bank deposit day. This is just what I figured works best for me, but different things work for different people and that’s what makes Vigilant a great place to work. Nobody here tells you how, when, or even where to do your work. It’s all on you, but it surely seems to be working. When you enable people, and provide them with a positive environment and the resources that they need, the results will follow.

I feel as though my time at Vigilant is slowly ruining me, but in the best way possible if that makes any sense. I can’t imagine another work term that will encourage me to play video games at lunch or treat me to McDonalds on the occasional Friday. I believe the strong values that Vigilant holds is exactly what all businesses need and if all CEO’s had the mindset of Terry, the corporate world would be a much better place. And to all the business owners out there, I challenge you to put people before profits and see what happens. Actually No. I don’t just challenge you....I dare you.



Nope, We Don’t Laugh Here

It’s late November, how can that be? It’s been almost three full months since I've returned to Vigilant, but yet, it feels like I just got here. The past few months have been hectic! Thinking back on the last few months made me realize that my decision to return to Vigilant for a second work term was indisputably, the right decision. You see, there’s something quite special about jumping right back into the Vigilant world, and it’s both challenging and rewarding.

I returned in September and since then we have celebrated numerous birthdays, laughed uncontrollably, hosted random pizza parties just because, and hit goals and milestones we’ve never before reached. It sounds like all fun and games because, it is. Work can be fun! That’s not to say that we can’t be serious when we need to be. When you cultivate the right team, such as Vigilant has done, you can alter an industry and enjoy life, all at the same time. Amazing, right?

My role here can sometimes be as simple as making sure there’s always ground coffee on hand (we may be addicted), or as complex as helping produce and deliver a RFP response on time. Everyday is different, and there is always something new to learn! Something that I love about business and HR is the idea of making people even just a little bit happier about going to work in the morning. Recently, we ordered Vigilant hat’s for the team. You know it’s getting cold, and we needed a little something to warm our heads. I for one, was very excited for them to arrive, but it was even more fun handing them out and watching everyone else be just as excited as I was. I know we will all be proudly sporting them this Winter! Making a difference in someone’s work life can be as simple as saying “hey, you did an awesome job today”, or even just making sure that there’s that good coffee on hand sometimes (we’re definitely addicted).

Being back has made me think about how I got here. Recently it’s become much harder for students to find positions in cooperative education programs. I know that in recent years many organizations feel they can no longer take on another body, much less a student. Yet Vigilant has always, and continues to, take on students each and every academic semester. For this, I’ll always be grateful that they see the benefits in teaching students as much as we’re willing to learn. Students are an asset! Not only are we learning more than we ever would seated in a classroom, but these organizations are learning too. I realize that my situation may be different than most students on work terms (I mean, there can really only be one Vigilant!) because here, you’re not just another employee or student, you’re a part of a family. That’s just the Vigilant way!


Junior PMing For Reals

I’m about half way through my second work term here at Vigilant - which is crazy; time is going so fast! - and so far it has been quite a different experience compared to my first work term earlier this year. 

When I was here from January to April, there wasn’t a whole lot of construction going on since it was the winter. I visited a couple sites where projects where getting finished up, but most of the work had been completed already. This time around, I’ve been visiting two different sites a few times every week and have been able to see the progression starting from the very beginning. What were just some holes in the ground during my first week are now growing walls and roofs - very exciting. I’ve learned so much from my on-site observations and getting to spend some time outside during the day is always nice. My steel-toed boots don’t always go with my outfit, but I suppose its a sacrifice I’m wiling to make for my education. I’m looking forward to seeing what stages each building will reach by the time I finish in December. 

My first time at Vigilant, I completed a large research study about public construction in Canada. Myself and fellow student, Erin, ended up with a 200 page report and some pretty interesting findings. During those months, we largely governed ourselves. We scheduled interviews with professionals, did individual online research, and created a survey, all with minimal guidance. We worked together every day, basically on our own terms, and somewhat separated from the rest of the office.  Although it wasn’t really ‘project management’, we both gained so much from the experience. This time around, I feel very much a part of the project management team. I’m involved with several projects for different clients, led by different Vigilant PM’s. So far I’ve helped create important project documents like Terms of References, RFPs (Request for Proposals), and Project Charters, and I’ve helped prepare several cost estimates for a variety of projects - from new buildings to water and sewer upgrades. This week I was even asked if I’d ‘take the lead’ on a new project! That’s how much they trust me! It’s a fairly small project, of course, and I’ll have all the help I need, but it’s still quite an honour to be given a responsibility like that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Feeling like a true "Junior Project Manager”, 


PS. Watch this:

I’m Back! (With More to Say Than Ever?)

Hi everyone! It’s Emma! I’ve just started my second work term here at Vigilant. At first, this blog post may seem like it doesn’t belong here, but I hope that it somewhat makes sense by the end. Just bare with me. 

As I ride my old-fashioned pedal bike this evening, I’m quickly and noisily surpassed by several youngsters whizzing around on their dirt bikes, exhaust spewing. I head for the T’Railway, a lovely, recently completed attraction of my town of CBS. Then I’m faced with a decision. Do I bike against the wind first so that I bike with the wind on the way back? Or do I bike with the wind first? I chose against. I later realized this simple choice could be seen as an analogy for something much bigger: the way the world (more specifically, the developed world) has been working for the past several decades. A book that I am currently reading is entirely about this same idea. 

As I follow the trail along the coastline, I notice the waves and how strongly they surge even on the most normal of days. I follow the crests and troughs of the trail itself, recognizing that while some locations sit comfortably above the level of the water, cliffs of smooth rocks separating our community - and our thoughts - from it’s strength, other locations dip dangerously close. Then, as I approach Holyrood, large smoke stacks enter my view. It could be my imagination, but the air smells slightly more foul. 

On the way back I see a few composters in backyards and I smile to myself, but then I remember the tens of thousands of other backyards in my town without one. 

I think about how much I don’t want to lose our beautiful T’Railway, but someday we will.

If you’ve read my other blog post from last May (if you haven’t, you should), you’ll know where this is coming from. This is me. This is how I think and this is what I think about. And quite frankly, right now I am just trying to channel that thought into something that may be somewhat helpful, rather than keeping it to myself like I do all too often. 

With another semester in the books, I finally have another few months to actually think about something other than how I’m going to manage to study for yet another midterm. And at Vigilant, that opportunity is amplified because they actually let you live as well as work - imagine that! One huge aspect of this ‘down time’ for me is the ability to read. Not notes or textbooks, but whatever I want. So of course, one of the first things I chose was a 600-pager on why capitalism is the true cause of climate change (Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything”). I’m 300 pages in and so far, it has done what I expected it to - infuriated and terrified me. In a good way? 

The basic messages of this book I’ve already known for a while: The fact that we are narrowing in on our last few years to be able to prevent the most devastating effects of climate change (many effects are already inevitable, and have already been well underway for years); the fact that the oil and gas companies have been fighting against any progress whatsoever in favour of their growth and profits; and the fact that global conference after global conference, we are still getting nowhere because our leaders are too afraid of these massive corporations, and aren’t willing to sacrifice any aspects of their grand lifestyles either. 

Among these things, there are many new things that I’ve learned from this book so far. Things I wish weren’t true. Environmental organizations that are themselves investing in drilling oil. Countries that claim to be reducing their emissions, but are really sending their dirty operations to developing countries so that it’s not legally their problem anymore. Is there anyone we can trust? In short, probably not. We’re gonna have to do this ourselves. 

So once again, I’m at that point - what does Vigilant have to do with this? (I have to admit, it took me much longer to get to this point this time around compared to my last post, but I had to say all that stuff first). Vigilant is part of the solution. How, you say? How can a project management company, focusing in construction, be helping to fight climate change? I’ll admit, it’s not helping a lot, but it is a little. Because the cause; the enemy of the climate crisis, is not carbon, but greed, and that is what Vigilant as a business is wholeheartedly against. 

Although still extremely small compared to the huge corporations that have contributed to this existential mess, Vigilant is showing how business can be done in a way that is sustainable. Clients are put first. Profits are nice, and necessary to function, but they aren’t sought in excess. If money is made, every person benefits, not one. This is why I can work here. Why I came back instead of trying to find a job with an oil and gas company where I could make twice or three times as much. I would not be able to stomach working for such institutions. Institutions which still are not being held responsible for the damage they have been creating for decades. 

I don’t wanna praise him too much because it may go to his head, but if all companies and governments were lead by someone like Terry, perhaps I’d have a little more hope for the future. Perhaps wrongs would be admitted and corrected instead of being covered up by monetary bribes. Perhaps less people would be overworked and underpaid, and therefore more able to shop local, to take the time to compost, to engage in causes that they care about. Perhaps legislation would actually be put in place instead of just being talked about, so that the big guys are forced to pay what they owe to the people doomed to suffer after the forest fires, hurricanes, and floods that are coming their way. It’s a nice thought. But of course, saving Owners money and time on their construction projects is also cool. Green building would be cooler, but I talked about that already (and will likely talk about it again later). 

Anyways, I’ll try to clue up now: What about the bike analogy? I know you’ve been wondering this whole time. 

Most people go with the wind. Taking the path of least resistance whenever possible. Perhaps knowing that the way back will be more difficult; more work, but hoping to delay that reality indefinitely. But at some point, if you want to go back home, you have to turn around. 

This is the way the world has been going and continues to go. This is the way of our current carbon-economy. If we continue to emit; if we keep exploring for more oil reserves rather than locations for wind farms; if we keep going for pointless drives in our pick-up trucks and buying houses four times as big as we need, we won’t feel a thing. Life will continue to be a breeze. But once we reach the end of the trail and have to turn around, it’s going to be near impossible to pedal back against the monstrous winds that have formed. We most likely won’t make it back home. But if we turn the other way now, against the wind, there is a chance. It’ll be hard, but it will be temporary. We’ll know that once we get there, the way back will be relativity comfortable and we’ll get home safe. Or at least that’s the hope. For the alternative, there is no hope at all.

Vigilant has been biking against the wind. Doing something different in an industry that is resistant to change. It isn’t easy, but once everyone realizes that this way works - and is better - the wind will change and we’ll all move forward. This has to happen in far more industries, in particular, the energy industries. We have to suck it up and start. Our actual survival depends upon it. 

So thank you, Vigilant, for not being afraid to go there, and for pushing people like myself, to strive to make similar advances despite the odds.

Until my next wave of frustration and inspiration,


Anything But Grey

Last week, Terry asked me how I was feeling.

“Oh pretty good!” I said, after having just returned from volunteering to pick John up from the car dealership. I knew what Terry meant, but I didn’t know how to answer.

So I dodged the subject: “I feel happy, my work term report is coming along, and driving John was a nice breakup of my morning. Thanks for asking!” or something along those lines. Terry wasn’t really asking about my day, his consoling tone and imposing curiosity spoke to me that he was really asking how I felt about my time at Vigilant.

I hesitated, I never really thought about it ending. I got caught up into the routine. Wake up, show up to work and talk to everyone about the silly things we did in between working hours, do work, play Overwatch at lunch (Thanks Terry), work again and go home. It seems mundane, it seems like any other job, so it’s easy for people on the outside to think there’s nothing special going on between our grey walls. But over the past week I’ve realized that the opportunity that I’ve been given at Vigilant is anything but grey.

Between our grey and white walls is that touch of orange that makes us who we are.

There’s an energy where I work that I am proud to be a part of. It’s hopeful, it’s energetic, it’s positive, it’s truly me. A collection of the little things that are just done right, make me want to leave my bed, and be excited to come to work.

It’s Mark, who is always excited to make conversation with you and is interested in how you’re doing; it’s Todd, who is somehow good at everything and remarkably humble throughout; it’s Sarah, who will be the passionate first to remind you that we do things “The Vigilant Way”; John, my Dad Joke partner-in-crime; Grant, who always keeps everyone and everything under control; Sheldon, the last to leave every day to make sure everyone is taken care of; Lloyd, whose pride in this company is as moving as his wisdom; and Terry, who I see as the perfect wrapping paper for this gift of a company. Working around the best people really makes the best job even better – hell, it can even make the worst job bearable.

But this was far from the worst job that I’ve ever had. People in the office don’t see, but when I am not in the office, I search for every opportunity to talk about work. I tell people about the actual, valuable work experience that I am getting, the fact that I am valued as a real member of the team, the fact that it doesn’t matter if I show up a little late or leave a little early, the conversations that we are allowed to have, the random acts of kindness from Terry for us, the company events that we’ve had, and the overall support that we all give each other.

So, to answers Terry’s question about how I feel about leaving, I am going to be sad for a little bit, yes. What I am really going to feel is confident. From this work term I now know that I made the right decision with my profession, I feel prepared for school year ahead, and I have regained a certain swagger that I have been missing for a little while. If the stars align and it will be possible for me to come back, I would not hesitate to accept the invitation, but if they don’t, then I certainly have no complaints about my summer of 2016.

So this blog post is just a really long way to say - Thank you Vigilant Management, for doing everything right. I hope to see you all soon.


What It Takes

The end of this week marks the end of my 16-week tenure at Vigilant, and it is truly bittersweet. In what only seemed like a few weeks has actually been a fantastic summer, both in terms of work and weather (a sunny May 2-4 in NL? What?). I say bittersweet because I am both happy and sad about it. I’m sad that I have to leave, but I am unbelievably grateful for the work term that I’ve been lucky enough to have.

This summer, I was able to learn so much about what it really takes to run a small business. Although it was similar to my last work term, I was essentially by myself most of the time doing what I could to help out. In a rather paradoxical fashion, what I’ve come to realize is something that I’ve known all along - how important it is to care about the business.

A small business is just that; small. By definition (according to the Small Business Administration), a ‘small’ business will typically have no more than 500 employees working there. However, when you look at many of the local ‘small’ businesses around here, they do not even begin to touch this number! Many businesses, especially recent startups, are run by only a handful of people. Not surprisingly, Vigilant is no different.

So how does this relate to people caring? Well, put yourselves in the shoes of a small business owner (if you’re not one already, of course). When you only have this modest handful of people running your operations, you would hope that they’d be pretty awesome people, would you not? Otherwise, there’s no way your business will succeed in the long run. Businesses cannot self-sustain without the help of people, and good ones at that. You need to rely on people that will help make your business the best it can be, or at least what you want it to be. And most importantly, these people need to trust both each other and you. To put it simply, you need people that care about your business, not just the money that they’re making from it.

At Vigilant, our team is far from gargantuan. This means that all of us need to be in this 100% if we want to keep everything going. Suffice it to say, the things we are trying to do, and the means that we have to be able to do it, make it very easy for us to buy in. My two semesters here have truly shown me how much we all need to commit to Vigilant if we want to see it grow even more, which I am absolutely confident that it will. With the team that we have, the things that we’re doing, and the things that we will accomplish in the future, I know that we’re on the right track.

Although this is the end for now, I’ll be back soon enough. I’ll miss Vigilant and everything that it takes to keep it going, but I know that it’s in good hands.


The Movies at Noon?

This past Wednesday, most people at around 1:30 p.m. were either at work, on lunch break, or just getting back from lunch break. Similar to most week days, the majority of people were cooped up in their office, working diligently until 4 or 5 when they could finally go home. On this particular Wednesday, however, everyone at Vigilant was not in their office chairs. In fact, we all went to the Avalon Mall to visit the Scotiabank Theatre.

Going to the movies on a Wednesday means three things to us:

  • One, the new Star Trek in 3D won’t be too busy (which it wasn’t), and it’ll be easy to grab some good seats;
  • Two, the company that we all know and love has purposely scheduled 3 hours out of our work day to watch a movie and get some free food; and most importantly
  • Three, we have successfully raised the $10,000 needed to give our Wish Kid, Grace, the trip she’s dreamed about; a vacation to Greece.

We are all so lucky to have been a part of something so important, and finally all of our efforts have come to fruition. Thanks to the support of everyone at Vigilant, and so many more that we could not even begin to name, we have successfully reached our goal. To everyone that has donated money, time, or even thought, we all sincerely thank you. It would not be possible without the support of so many people that have answered our constant (and probably annoying) calls for events, donations, or even general awareness.

Although we all “sing the Vigilant tune” rather frequently, there aren’t enough good things to say about the culture here. Quite simply, people here care, and that’s why we were able to do the things we have for the Children’s Wish Foundation. It’s also why we all won’t shut up about how great it is to work here. We love Vigilant, and Vigilant loves us back - which is why we got to see Chris Pine’s handsome face stick out at us in IMAX 3D.

Going to the movies on a Wednesday afternoon is an obscure and almost ridiculous thing for a business professional to think about. But at Vigilant, it means so much more than that. We hope you enjoy your trip Grace - you deserve it.




Top 50

50. It’s a funny number. It seems so arbitrary when you think about it. Why cut something off at 50? Why not 100? 500? Honestly, I don’t know. However, I recently was among 49 other people in Moncton, New Brunswick where we as a group were declared the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada.

That is heady stuff. Top 50? Me? Come on now, I just run what feels like a tiny business in Newfoundland and Labrador. Sure, we employ 14 people. Yes, we feel like we are making a difference in the construction industry. We definitely are fighting ‘against the tide’ of popular opinion in our province, where times are tough and the outlook for the future generally ranges between ‘total extinction’ and ‘sort of a disaster.’

There are roughly 90,000 businesses in Atlantic Canada. Ninety thousand! I had to look the number up as I was curious. I lead one of them. It is easy to see how many of us may feel small when we consider our impact on our communities. Nevertheless, I found out I was on the list and my wife and I hopped on a plane for the journey to Moncton as this qualifies as a *Big Deal* for a tiny company like Vigilant.

At 4:30 on the day of the event the 50 winners were required to go to a group photo and networking session. I consider myself to be fairly secure in my own self-worth and capabilities but walking into this room of 49 business leaders was a bit of a gut check moment for me. Hey look, that guy runs a company that does over a billion a year in sales. That one has 1500 employees. That girl is a force for positive change in her community. What the hell am I doing here?

One of the first people to speak to me was Dr. Andrew Furey of Team Broken Earth. Dr. Furey is a widely known physician and leader who responded to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti by founding an organization that today sends countless healthcare professionals to the area to aid in their ongoing recovery. He knew me from Twitter (which can either be really good, or really really bad) and wanted to know about my business.

If you want to get me talking on something, ask me about Vigilant, I’ll happily talk your ear off as it is something I care deeply about. Here is a man who has directly saved thousands of lives and he wants to talk to me about my company. Honestly, I felt like a bit of an ass prattling on about Vigilant but he seemed to be genuinely interested and was so very kind. From there, the evening kind of took on a life of its own, as conversations between award recipients merged into the celebration of the night and everyone had a great time.

The day after, driving across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Halifax (which is a lovely drive by the way), my mind wandered to the experience of the whole thing and what it meant to me and Vigilant and everyone who is a part of what we are trying to accomplish. There were parts of the evening where I felt like we really shouldn’t be there, our tiny company, from a tiny province, trying to change a gigantic industry with huge players who have deep influence over everything. In many ways, comparing Vigilant to some of the companies that were there is like comparing my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador to the State of California. Sure we share some structural similarities, but they are so vastly different that the comparison seems absurd. How can my company of 14 relate to Pennecon, to Hickman Motors, to NB Power?

What struck me was that while the road each award recipient had travelled to arrive in that room in Moncton was different and varied, the end result was a group of people filled with purpose who were trying to move things forward. Our purposes were all different, we work in different industries, in different provinces, but the goal was the same: try to make things better. Many of the people I spoke to were dealing with the same challenges of growing and sustaining a company during uncertain times. We may arrive at different solutions but we share in the same crazy experience of trying to be leaders within our respective organizations.

None of that really explains why I was in that room. I don’t really think I have done anything special. The people who work with me at Vigilant are the ones who deliver value every day to our clients. They’re the ones who bring projects in on time and on budget. They find new solutions to complex problems. I just make it so they can do what they do. Ask me about why what they do is special, I’ll tell you all about it. Ask me why the status quo cannot stand in the construction industry, I’ll go on for hours. Ask me why my team has some of the most talented people ever put into the same room, I’ll tell you all their stories.

But don’t ask me why I was named one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada. I still haven’t figured that out. However, I am immensely proud and humbled to have been put in that room with those 49 people who are completely deserving of the recognition. I hope I can measure up to their example someday.


Building The Future

Many would probably consider me an environmentalist, but I prefer to think of myself as someone who just cares. Not about the dumb things like money and power and possessions, but about life. And the world. And not the world as in my 600 Facebook friends or my small town. The world - like everyone, everywhere. And the everyone's everywhere who aren’t even here yet, i.e. future generations. Unfortunately, from what I’ve observed over my few years, this perspective isn’t that common. And for that reason, I guess I have to accept a label such as ‘environmentalist’ or ‘philanthropist’, but really, I just wanna be normal. Hopefully that time will come. 

What does this have to do with Vigilant? Firstly, I do feel fairly normal at the office. Everyone else on the team wants to make a difference too. Maybe not concerning the same things as me, but at least they care about something - mostly construction projects. Secondly, Vigilant may be one of my platforms. I’ve always had a desire to change my province for the better, and I may have found a place to do that. 

Prior to being hired at Vigilant, I never really considered working in the construction industry. I’ve always helped my mom with home renovations and I love any type of design and creation, but the thought never really crossed my mind. I entered engineering so that I could contribute to the fight against climate change. I never knew how, but I knew that it was the one thing I had to work toward. Renewable energies like solar, wind, hydro, and tidal, methane/carbon capture, efficient devices, recycling methods - there’s a lot going on. But unfortunately, not so much here in Newfoundland. 

When I was researching places that I may like to work, nothing relating to these areas seemed to come up. There are few distributors of solar panels or home insulation consultants, but nothing “engineer-y” enough for me; nothing that excited me. Many may think of green engineering as developing new technologies or improving older ones, and though important, I believe that a lot has been figured out already, it’s just under-utilized. The technology is there to transition to a carbon-free economy. We just have to initiate it. 

Again, how can Vigilant address this? Well, what requires all this energy that we want to harness? Buildings. Sustainable infrastructure is becoming a larger and larger sector of the industry. Buildings that heat and cool themselves, generate energy for other uses, and even recycle their own water. They exist! All over the world buildings like these are popping up - Germany, England, Norway, Denmark, Brazil, the US, and even in Ontario and BC (although to a lesser extent). Perhaps Vigilant can help clients to incorporate sustainability into their projects; to encourage green investments and prove their financial benefits; and help with all the management stuff along the way.

The immediate reaction of many is probably that these types of buildings must be way more expensive - that is incorrect. David R. Boyd (a Canadian environmental lawyer and professor whose book The Optimistic Environmentalist I finished reading just days ago) states: “today’s green buildings provide superior comfort and performance at a cost that is equal to or even less than conventional buildings”. The cost of technology such as solar panels continues to decline because of demand and the lack of utility costs over the buildings lifetime will allow such investments to pay for themselves in no time. If you’d like to know the details of this and some examples of existing buildings, you should read the aforementioned book. Chapter 8 and 9, specifically.

So why aren’t new Newfoundland buildings being constructed to be sustainable? Why can’t they be? Maybe with help from the Vigilant team, I’ll be able to contribute to the change. The change is going to come, but I’d like Newfoundland to not be the last place on board. The resources we have here are incredible and every day so much of it is wasted. With the right people leading the way, and the right legislation in place, I think that we can make progress. 

Who knows where I’ll end up or what the future holds, but Vigilant has opened me up to this possibility. It may not lead to groundbreaking discoveries or instant solutions, but building by building, it could make a big difference. Whether it is something I pursue or not, whatever I do will be in the best interest of my children, and yours. For anyone reading who is unconvinced - climate change is real, it is happening, and even if things change dramatically, our home may be underwater in the not too distant future. If you love this place as much as I do, I would try my hardest to keep that from happening.

PS. Compost, recycle, conserve water, shop local, consume less (food, products and otherwise - you really don’t need it), and eat less meat (this is really important, but that’s another story). What you do matters. Just care. Just a little. Please. 

- Emma

Why Do Projects Struggle?

As the end of my second work term approaches, I’m once again amazed by how much I’ve learned here at Vigilant in such a short period of time. Although school has taught me certain aspects of engineering, the most valuable engineering learning experiences I’ve had have happened with this company as a work term student.


Over the course of this work term, I’ve spent the majority of my time conducting research into public construction in Canada with Emma. Our goal was to identify the biggest reasons that cause public construction projects to struggle with cost overruns and/or schedule delays. With just 11 weeks to conduct a Canada-wide study, Emma and I were forced to work efficiently to obtain as much information as possible. It took us a week or so to figure out the best ways to go about gathering data, but once Terry set us on the right track, the ball started rolling.

By April 13th, we had analyzed 21 public construction projects that had struggled, conducted 16 interviews with 23 people from the construction industry, and received 154 responses to our online Canadian Public Construction Survey. Each province and territory from across Canada was represented in the data in some way. We were able to determine the top five issues from projects, interviews, and the survey. The top five issues were surprisingly consistent for each of our three methods of data collection.

Although this is just my second work term in the construction industry, I have seen public construction projects go off-track and how Vigilant Management has stepped in to correct some of the issues that caused the projects to struggle. It was eye opening to see the correlation between the big issues from each region across Canada and how they relate to what I have seen during my time here. It is nice to be able to look at our findings and definitively say “these are the issues in the construction industry that need to be mitigated”.

I can honestly say that completing this study is one of my biggest accomplishments. As Emma and I work on compiling our final report containing all of the information we gathered, I am amazed at the amount of data we were able to collect. Most people were very willing to share their experiences with us and contribute to our research. Conducting such an in-depth study has had its challenges, but I am very pleased with the results. I have learned so much throughout the process!

Thanks to the Vigilant Team for another great work term. I’m sure going to miss this place. Maybe I’ll be back again…?



A Piece of the Puzzle

It’s officially the end, and I can tell you that i’ve been putting off writing this blog because I know it means just that. The end. I could not have asked for a better work term in terms of people, experience, and fun. And so I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I know I could go on and on about not wanting to return to classes and leave the place that’s taught me far more than a classroom ever could.

The past couple weeks have been crazy here at the office, which is something that I will miss immensely. There is something to be said about being busy while doing something that you enjoy. It’s great. That’s what Vigilant is all about. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with these incredible individuals. These past four months have allowed me to put in one more piece of the puzzle that is my future career.

I was told once that a work term with Vigilant wouldn’t be your typical work term. At first I didn’t understand, but now I can confidently tell you that it’s because you aren’t likely to find a better culture, better people, and a better work experience. And once you’ve been a part of it, nothing else can really compare. Vigilant isn’t some place you just pass through, pack up, and move on to the next great thing. It is that great thing. And who knows, I may find my way back one day, but regardless there will always be a little part of Vigilant with me!



Take Two?

As I have said so many times before, Vigilant Management is most definitely one of the BEST places to work. The laid-back atmosphere combined with people eager to complete tasks to the best of their ability makes work days seem shorter, not to mention more enjoyable. After spending last summer here, Terry and the Vigilant Team were willing to take me back for another work term. I was welcomed back into the office and I have to say, walking through the door to see the Vigilant Management logo on the wall in front of me again was great! It’s an awesome feeling to know that I am a part of such a wonderful company.


Working with new faces and some new projects, I’ve been enjoying myself just as much as I did during my last work term. It has been interesting to see how projects I was involved with previously have panned out. Some are still ongoing, requiring some catch-up on my part to figure out what has been done and at what stage we are in the project presently.

Over the summer, I spent a good chunk of my time visiting different construction sites. The construction phase of most of the projects we were involved in had already begun. This term, I have seen a completely different side of the construction process. Instead of going to site and preparing site visit/progress reports, I have seen just how much planning and preparation is required to get a project off the ground. It sometimes requires studies to ensure that what the client desires is feasible. It requires several meetings to ensure we, as the Owner’s Representatives, fully understand the needs of each client. It requires the tedious preparation of specifications and drawings as well as the tedious review of these documents to ensure there are no missing pieces that could cost the owner additional money down the road. These are just a few of the critical steps to actually get a project to the construction phase. It has definitely been useful to get to see and understand this part of the process.

As the construction season approaches, I’m sure the last month of my work term will be super busy. Between project related tasks and other research tasks, there hasn’t been a dull moment so far - and I’m sure that won’t change now!



Four Months Isn't Enough

I haven’t been very good at keeping up with my blog posts, but that’s just because I’ve been too focused on my exciting work. There is only one month to go, and I can truly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the last three. So much so, that you may just hear from me again in the fall.

Thinking about my future work terms, I have trouble imagining being anywhere else. I love my current schedule, the work environment, the people, the location, so why give that up? As a conversation earlier this week mentioned - the me at Vigilant is the me at home. I never have to act a certain way to try to be accepted or to fit in. I know I am appreciated for who I am - that’s why they hired me. I know I wouldn’t be happy in a workplace that is not as relaxed - a normal corporate culture would exhaust me. 

So, I think I’m going to stay. The opportunity has been kindly offered, and after much consideration, I really think that it is the best choice for me. Not only will I continue to be taught by the best, I will be able to enjoy all aspects of my life. Waking at 6 AM, driving 45 minutes to a huge office building only to sit in an isolated cubicle and hope for some odd jobs to be handed to me until 5 PM, just does not appeal to me. At Vigilant, I am well rested, I am engaged in my tasks - and they are actually important - and I can accommodate any events that come up in my schedule - if I need to leave early, I’ll just finish the work at home later. If you were used to such a lifestyle would you want to give it up? I didn’t think so. I’m sure that there are other fine employers that have fine workplaces, but from my research, nothing is jumping out at me. I don’t consider myself a very average person, so an average work term is not something I’d be satisfied with. 

Aside from the day-to-day comfort, I also know that Vigilant will continue to push me out of my comfort zone. They recognize my potential and are willing to invest in me. My interests are important to them and they want to help me explore them. I consider myself very lucky to have found such a great support system so early. 

Nothing is finalized yet, but I feel as though the chance of something else popping up is very slim. Either way, no matter where I end up, I’ll always be a part of the Vigilant community, and that’s pretty cool.

I’ll keep you posted,