A Thank You to the Vigilant Family

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start. Seriously - where have these last four months gone? This work term has flown by like none other, and as cliché as it sounds, it really feels like my first day was last week. Unfortunately, due to some rather frantic changes to my travel plans home, I didn’t get to cherish my last day at Vigilant like I hoped I would and hardly got to say goodbye to my adopted Vigilant family from the past four months.

I’ve learned an insane amount during my short tenure at Vigilant; from a scary amount regarding Tommy Wiseau and one of the worst movies of all time “The Room”, to the inner workings of the construction industry. I’ve learned that much more goes into a construction project than the current in-game meta (which is quickly approaching meme status) of the wildly popular game Fortnite to “Just Build”. A staggering amount of preparation takes place prior to construction even coming close to starting. I was privileged enough to be a part of that process on many exciting projects and able to witness many different stages of construction through numerous site visits.

I will cherish my time at Vigilant, not only for all that I learned about, but also because I was treated with respect and trusted to complete important tasks vital to construction projects. As a company, Vigilant is definitely going places, and I would like to thank them for allowing me to tag along for four months. It was a wonderful learning experience and I truly enjoyed my time interacting with everyone in the office. Vigilant taught me how one should feel coming into the office every day and by far has the best company culture I’ve experienced to date. I will miss it dearly during my next four months of school.

As I try and wrap up my last blog post I’d like to take a moment and say thank you and so long for now to everyone, as I envision it would hopefully have happened if I did not have to take off unexpectedly to catch my flight.  Although, it is rather unlikely it would have went down like this as I suck at goodbyes!

To Terry and Krissy:

Thank you for giving me the incredible opportunity to prove myself to the company and become part of the Vigilant family. For showing me the right way to conduct both myself professionally and how to run a business successfully. For talking baseball and chicken dinners/victory royales with me and keeping our sweets cravings well-fed. Finally, thanks for being a constant bright spot at the office.

To Lloyd:

Thank you for all of the stories and imparted wisdom every morning. It was a pleasure to get to know you and allowing me to soak in as much of your incredible knowledge and experience as I could. Thanks for showing me how to own my job and be proud of my work. I hope you are enjoying your well-deserved break in Florida!

To Mark, Todd, Grant and Holly:

Thank you all so much for keeping myself and Noah busy throughout the term. For guiding us and giving us valuable feedback throughout the trials and tribulations of a work-term student. Thanks for letting us tag along on numerous site visits and trusting us with some pretty heavy hitting tasks and treating us as equals. Thank you for showing us what a work ethic looks like. All of your combined experience is staggering and proved to be useful resources throughout the term. All of the stories and jokes will be sorely missed.

What are ya at Sheldon?

Thanks for talking hockey with me and for all of your incredible impressions. Thank you for making sure we had everything we needed to feel at home and making sure we were a part of the family. The effort you put in so that Noah and I were comfortable is greatly appreciated and won’t be forgotten any time soon.

To Michelle: 

Thank you for being an awesome desk neighbour, even if you did break my heart in the final hours by saying you hated “the great 8”. I guess maybe your hatred for Ovie can be cancelled by me telling you that I hear all the movies you go to see aren’t very good!

Finally, to Noah:

Thank you for sharing you journey through Game of Thrones with me, helping me out with Eng. Econ, and being a sweet work-term buddy. All the best on the upcoming term, I’m sure I will see you around school lots!

I wish everyone all the best in the future and bid you all adieu as my story at Vigilant comes to a close for now. Thanks for the memories and I hope to see everyone soon!

- Will

Night Gathers, and Now My Summer Term Begins

My time at Vigilant Management has sadly come to an end. As my remaining hours in the office dwindle, I find myself wanting to stay even more. The Vigilant experience is truly like no other. From day one, I felt connected to everyone in the office and that connection has only grown stronger since. I felt very accepted on both a professional level and personal level. The month of March was certainly the busiest of my time at Vigilant. Myself and Mark had plenty of lunch breaks that only consisted of a quick bite to eat and a mugful of coffee that went “straight down da troat/gullet.” That’s not to say that those were bad days by any means. Having a busy day at the office was incredibly fulfilling. I really felt that I was a part of the team and that the work that I was doing really mattered to Vigilant. Mark and I made sure to make up for that lost time at lunch by playing Contra on our break when we had days that weren’t as busy.

As I think of the long nights that I’ll be spending in the lab during my fast approaching semester, I reassure myself that the advice I was told and the stories I heard at Vigilant will guide me to the end. Before Lloyd left in early April, he sat down with Will and I, and explained how he conducts himself within Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry. He said to us, “When I’m managing a job, I make sure that it’s mine and that I know everything there is to know about it.” That really resonated with me. “Knowing everything” was a foreign concept to me. I never thought that I could “know everything” about anything! My standards were always set at working hard and being satisfied with whatever the outcome was. Now I fully intend on trying to “know everything” about the course material I’m going to be studying soon. Whether or not it works will be seen.

I could write quite a bit about all the things I’ll miss at Vigilant, so in attempt to cover it all here’s a list of some of my favorite. Don’t worry if you don’t quite understand all of them; it’s a Vigilant thing.

  • Chatting with Will and Sheldon about Game of Thrones (while simultaneously spoiling it for Michelle)

  • “Controlling the Avalon”

  • Playing Contra at lunch with Mark

  • Sharing Lloyd’s excitement about Fridays

  • Saying “Whadda y’at bys?!” every time I come into the office

  • Hearing hilarious stories from Grant, Holly, and Lloyd

  • Grant’s dogs

  • Hearing “I can’t believe you’ve done this” from Sheldon or Todd in their spot on British accents

  • Krissy’s unending enthusiasm

  • Terry’s hilarious office antics

  • Todd’s ever so kind presence (and intense Overwatch skills)

  • Company lunches

  • Getting emails of top notch memes from one of the bys

  • The coffee

Fare thee well Vigilant. Perhaps we’ll meet again some day.

- Noah(Liam)

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.

-Mark

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.

Sincerely,

Noah Q

a.k.a

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.

- Adam

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.

- Laura

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.

- Laura