By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
While his alma mater was committing to sustainability and diversity, Shaun Yancey (B.S., ’80) was leading similar efforts in construction, an industry some deemed resistant to such changes.
Yancey graduated from CSU with a degree in industrial-construction management. He began working for an international firm, PCL Construction Enterprises, as a project engineer in 1982. Today he is president and chief operating officer for PCL’s U.S. operations. His impact on the company and industry has been significant.
During Shaun’s time as COO, the company has progressed its virtual construction program, which enables employees to “build” a job in 3D on a computer before any construction begins. Virtual construction allows design problems, such as pipes or ductwork that do not fit into the assigned space, to be identified and resolved before work begins, thereby avoiding costly structural changes and project delays.
Yancey also championed sustainability. Not only did this involve constructing environmentally friendly buildings but also evolving the company’s perspective. They now approach the construction process, safety issues, their communication, the tasks they assign employees, and their support for employees from a perspective of sustainability.
Perhaps the most impactful change led by Yancey is the development and implementation of a diversity and inclusion program for the company. In an industry that historically lacks diversity among its workforce, his commitment to hiring and advancing women and other under-represented groups challenges the “traditional” approach to hiring, growing, and promoting construction talent. The resulting change in practice and perspective has led to increased diversity in the company’s leadership. Yancey also supported the development of a communications department. Another Ram, speech communication graduate Stephanie McCay (B.A. ’06), led that effort and currently serves as communications manager for PCL’s US Operations.
Yancey’s passion for supporting people and changing perspectives extends well beyond PCL and the construction industry. He has served on the board of Mile High United Way and chaired the board of Tennyson Center for Children, whose mission is to help children who have experienced severe abuse, neglect, or trauma “so they can bravely, and safely, change their life’s story.” He continues to support these and other similar organizations.
While implementing innovations in construction practice and perspective, Yancey has been part of some amazing projects. On his “top-three” list are the Denver International Airport terminal and parking garages, Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, and the Ritz Carlton (now St. Regis) in Aspen.
Reminiscing on his college days, Yancey recalls walking out of classes held in Guggenheim Hall during fall semesters and feeling overwhelmed by the beauty of the Oval. He also has great memories from his three years as a resident assistant in the Towers, which included the perspective-changing first year of coed floors.
Shaun Yancey will receive the Denver Business Journal C-Suite Award this year as “a shining example of how to run and manage a company.”