June 29, 2020

We want to highlight the unique relationships we share in our global community of seasoned professionals. The strength of Epstein lies in the wealth of experience shared with each other to better equip our workforce with knowledge and confidence.

From building great professional relationships to long lasting friendships, these stories speak for themselves. This month the spotlight is on Laura Rebbe and Jeffrey McQuiston from our Chicago Architecture department.

Laura is a Vice President, Senior Project Manager in the Architecture department and has been with Epstein for four years. Her career has been defined by a variety of projects, from 1 million square foot European entertainment/shopping centers to Army and Training Facilities, hotel renovations to airport baggage handling. One of her notable projects, Dolce Vita Coimbra, a shopping center won the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) Design Award in 2006. As the President of Epsteins Staff Initiative Committee and member of Epsteins Standards Committee, Laura is continuously striving to improve Epsteins employee experience and knowledge. As an active member of Toastmasters (a public speaking and leadership development organization) since 2012, she is always encouraging younger staff to participate in public speaking.

Jeff is a Project Architect, soon to complete his five-year milestone with Epstein. He has worked on various projects such as airports, industrial facilities, hospitality, interior build-outs, including our office building renovations etc. He is a member of our Architectural Standards and Revit Training Committees and has also served as the BIM representative for his projects. Jeff makes it a point to participate in all of the Epstein Community Foundation events. He also dabbles in our in-house game nights and other after work events from time to time. Given these credentials, it is no wonder that Jeff received the 2018 Epstein "Mission & Vision Award." And again in 2019, was voted as THE HERO most likely to extend a helping hand.

Laura and Jeff have been working together for the past four years and have a lot in common. Both are Licensed Architects, members of The American Institute of Architects and passionate about the ACE Mentor Program (a mentorship program that introduces high school students to the AEC industry). They meet with students once a week and use a hands-on approach to help them learn the basics of the building industry and give them a strong foundation to base their future careers on.

What is the biggest takeaway for you from this relationship?

Laura: It is rewarding to watch a young professional develop into a reliable, confident, capable architect, as Jeff has. Jeff has really worked on his technical knowledge as well as his communication skills over the past years.

Jeff: "Laura as a mentor and role model has really shown what I can aspire to be as I progress through my career. It is easy to find key attributes that Laura excels at that I can model myself after. From her flexibility of a task thrown her way, her public speaking and project presenting to how shes always looking to improve Epstein and have fun doing it (tap dancing, stair climbing for charity, Staff Initiative Committee).

Could you share a memorable project you worked on together?

Jeff: I have a few projects with Laura that are memorable to me. Our first project together, 101 W Erie, an existing high-rise office building downtown converted into a luxury hotel. With Laura being new to Epstein and myself maybe only having a year, I was impressed that she was able to jump into the project and be flexible to help wherever was needed, even asking if she could help us out in Revit at one point to get an issuance out. As being a Project Manager it really showed that she was able to do a multitude of tasks that could very easily not be considered part of a PMs role.

The other project I feel like I have to mention is the OHare Restroom Renovation project. Laura was the PM and myself as the Project Architect during the Construction Administration phase. While Laura was not the PM during design she again was able to adapt to the project quickly and help me navigate through this somewhat difficult project. I especially enjoyed our weekly car rides to the site as a way to prep and discuss prior to the OAC meeting. And now with the OHare Pedestrian Tunnel Waterproofing and Renovation project I can look forward to another two years of car rides with Laura (once we start having in-person meetings again).

Laura: Jeff and I just completed a challenging project together, where Jeff served as the Project Architect. We were met several unique challenges during the project, where we had to defend the contract documents and prepare details to adjust the design to unforeseen conditions. When met with these challenges, Jeff always took the first step towards a response or a solution, coming to me primarily for confirmation or comment. Ultimately a quality project was delivered on time and on budget.

What role has mentorship played in your development personally or professionally?

Laura: As a mentee, I have benefited from mentors who have helped me grow professionally. One mentor in particular provided an excellent example of project management leadership. I still use his guidance and advice today! As a mentor, I have also benefited from my mentees in numerous ways. Most importantly, mentoring pushes me to be a good example for others, and to seek out opportunities to teach, guide and advise.

What is key to a successful relationship with your mentor?

Jeff: Communication. Especially as the mentee I can see how it might be hard to bring up a question or ask for help, but this is key in learning and getting the most out of the relationship.

What best describes Jeff?

Laura: Jeff is steady! No matter what is thrown at Jeff, he always reacts with calm professionalism. He is just unflappable! (I suspect he rocks out to heavy metal in his car on the way home to let out all of his pent up frustration!)

A little known fact about Laura:

Laura has been a life-long avid reader! Her top five book choices are as follows:

¢ Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (A beautiful nesting doll of literary genres, but dont bother with the movie!)

¢ Blindness by Jose Saramago; Endurance (A very dark look at humanity in the face of a pandemic. Maybe dont read this right now)

¢ Shackletons Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (It reads like a National Geographic! Fascinating!)

¢ The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (I cried my eyes out!)

¢ The Wizard of Earthsea Series by Ursula LeGuin (cheated here, since this is a series of books)