3 Invaluable Lessons from Kristin Allen

  1. A collaborative work environment is key to any project but especially big ones.
  2. A good leader leads by example.
  3. Meetings with purpose are incredibly important. We need to know what the purpose, objective, action items, and deadlines are for the meeting.

For the first time ever, we are offering a beta-test of the Project Scorecard for everyone to use on their project, not just our clients.  If you are interested in being a part of this beta test, contact Sue Dyer, suedyer@constructiondreamteam.com.

This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Kristin Allen about GMP and the importance of collaboration, meetings with purpose, and coming up with a plan.

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About Guest Kristin Allen (1:21)

Kristin Allen is a project manager for a $2.4 billion project that is coming close to having its first big milestone. Kristin is the Project Manager for Terminal 1 – Boarding Area B at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The airport will have its first opening of nine gates this summer. The focus of the project is elevating the guest experience while providing a facility that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Kristin’s Journey to Becoming a Project Manager at SFO (3:20)

  1. Kristin always had an affinity for math and problem solving
  2. Kristin started as a designer and then obtained her professional license and experienced many parts of the airport
  3. She has worked at SFO for the last 20 years
  4. In 2013 she was asked to work on the Terminal 1 program

Kristin’s Greatest Strength as a Leader (7:04)

  1. When the SFO project began they knew they’d need to foster and encourage a collaborative environment
  2. Interacting with the team and getting to know everyone allows her to set the tone
  3. She leads by example

How Do They Work on Both Projects, Terminal 1 Center and Boarding Area B, at the Same Time (9:15)

  1. Each project has a different Design-Builder
  2. The Project Management teams from the two projects integrated into one team
  3. Boarding Area B has the majority the boarding areas and Terminal 1 Center has the majority of the terminal but there are so many touchpoints throughout
  4. They touch physically, with infrastructure, with schedule, logistics, and site access
  5. They have “One Building, One Team” philosophy
  6. They use a Big Room where everyone involved on the two projects are co-located
  7. There is a Memorandum of Understanding between the two teams regarding the infrastructure needed for their upcoming 9-Gate Opening
  8. Problems are being resolved from the field up

An Overview of the Two SFO Projects: Terminal 1 Center and Boarding Area B (14:00)


  1. The two projects cover about 1.2 million sq. ft.
  2. There are a robust variety of retail, and food and beverage offerings
  3. There is a brand new baggage handling system that’s containerized and more efficient
  4. There are consolidated checkpoints
  5. Very sustainable practices and uses about ⅓ of the power of a traditional build of its size

How Kristin Successfully Negotiated the GMP for Both Projects (16:14)

They have a progressive GMP program in San Francisco and typically start the process when they’re around 90% bought out. The most important thing they did at the beginning was to come up with a plan. They knew what they wanted to accomplish week over week and there were things they weren’t in alignment on at the end so they sat together in the room, they were empowered to make decisions and they hammered it out.

How to Figure Out the Budget and Contingencies (21:00)

  1. Look at history and what has happened along the way
  2. Look at other projects and see what they did
  3. Look at the history of your own project to predict out for the remaining scope
  4. Build a strong relationship with design/build teams
  5. Lean on other people’s expertise and understand their knowledge base

How the Target Budget Process Helps Get to the GMP (22:43)

When they started, they had a “barn raising” with Stakeholders and the Design team to come up with big and crazy ideas. When they left their Programming Phase, they were designing things with a budget that they couldn’t afford. They had a series of budget reconciliation exercises over a year and half and settled on what is and is not in the scope. SFO has created a “below-the-line” list with items they’d like to have in the process that wasn’t vital to it. They prepare for those items, and as they move through the project they check to see if they can fit the item into the budget and move it “above-the-line.” 

What Can Others Do to Make Sure Their Projects Complete Within Their GMP and What Role Does the Team Play (27:22)

  1. You need to make sure you have the proper contingencies and reserves to deal with things when they come up along the way
  2. The problems are the project’s problems
  3. Create an environment where everyone involved in the project is comfortable sharing their ideas

How Do You Create an Integrated Team for This Size of Project With This Complexity (28:46)

  1. You have to keep your eyes open to things that are getting out of alignment
  2. You have to take a step back and make sure everyone is on the same page
  3. The best part about a team is that you work to put things back together as a group
  4. They couldn’t successfully complete the project without Collaborative Structured Partnering

A Big Challenge Kristin Has Had and How She Overcame (32:55)

Kristin was asked to help with a runway closure and compliance project, she felt she was taking a step backward. It ended up being the most partnering-intensive project with 24-hour construction for the entire summer. It was an amazing experience. Things you think are bad in your life sometimes turn out to be good.

The Very Best Advice Kristin Has Ever Gotten (36:30)

Surround yourself with people who know more about specific things than you do. There is no one single person that knows everything and you have to allow others around you to provide a framework for success.

Kristin’s Favorite Piece of Tech (38:09)


A Microsoft Surface Tablet

Resources for Listeners (39:50)

Recommended Application: Flipboard

Contact Kristin

Reach out to Sue Dyer to get a hold of Kristin at Sue@ConstructionDreamTeam.com

Kristin’s Parting Advice for Construction Nation (41:10)

Meetings with purpose are incredibly important. We need to know what the purpose, objective, action items, and deadlines are for the meeting and that’s critically important for GMP as well. The person who facilitates the meeting shouldn’t be the same person who’s trying to get the answers. Action items are the most important thing.

Construction Nation! Dream Teams don’t just happen they are built one step at a time. Why not send out this episode to your team, so they can help you. Construction Nation! Dream Teams don’t just happen they are built one step at a time. Find all of the resources that have been recommended by our guests on our website on the Resources page, https://constructiondreamteam.com/resources/

Remember…Construction Dream Team drops every Monday morning at 4 am PST. Please join us next week when Sue will interview another industry leader or expert so you can learn how to create your Construction Dream Team!

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