Making construction fun: Caitlin Powell

Published July 10, 2020

Caitlin Powell

We can all agree that moving isn’t a joy ride. But it’s certainly more fun when you have Caitlin Powell on your team. A project manager at Skansa, she’s helped people at PDX settle into their new home at Concourse E. That means she’s made some good friends with folks at Southwest Airlines. We caught up with her to hear what’s on her mind as the project comes to a close. 

Caitlin’s an airport aficionado. “I'm a world traveler. I've been to 24 countries and eventually would like to make it to them all. So I’ve spent lots of time in airports, and I’m always checking out what they do well and what they should do better. I use PDX as my comparison because they focus on the passenger experience. There’s a reason they’ve won those national awards for so many years in a row.” 

The pandemic pushed her team to get creative — fast. “It amazes me how people are always learning, always adapting, always creating new solutions — and construction workers are brilliant at that. We’re seeing that especially now. At first, it was like, how do we do all of this with social distancing? I was really impressed by our crews and subcontractors, who so quickly found new and creative ways of doing things.”

The team had a few laughs along the way, too. “Whenever we have a question for the construction team, we write what’s called an RFI, a request for information. And we’ve written a lot of them for this project. We’ve made the process fun. When we hit the first 1,000 RFIs, for example, I dressed up in a costume and the Port construction manager got a cake that said ‘1,000 RFIs.’ We busted into our weekly meeting, where there were about 40 people. I pushed the cake into the room. He played the music. Now everybody keeps joking with me about costumes.”

Building Concourse E is a career highlight. “I’ve been in the construction industry for 14 years and I think this has been my favorite project I’ve ever worked on. So, you know, moving on to other projects feels bittersweet. There are just so many great people at PDX. It's such a dynamic place to work and I am so proud to be involved with a project that will impact so many people’s lives.”

You might spot her in line at the new Tillamook in Concourse E. “I'm most excited for the public to just feel the vibe and see the natural light. I'm also really excited for them to eat at the Tillamook ice cream bar. I am a huge ice cream fan. I could eat it for breakfast if I let myself.”