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Transformation through people and culture


APRIL 2020

PCL Construction: transformation through people and culture WRITTEN BY



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Mark Bryant, CIO at PCL Construction, describes how the company’s vision and “innovate or die” philosophy is helping to shape the modern industry


ounded in 1906 in Stoughton, Saskatchewan, PCL Construction is a construction company operating primarily

in Canada, the US, Australia and the Caribbean. Now headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, the 100% employee-owned company currently 04

employs over 4,000 full-time professional and admin staff and more than 10,000 hourly tradespeople. Operating primarily on heavy industrial, civil and building construction, PCL has attained consistent results and broad geographic diversity to ensure its continued success. The company works on 700-800 projects each year, and is the largest contracting company in Canada and the seventh largest in North America overall. Mark Bryant, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at PCL, joined the company seven years ago with the aim of helping the business understand how IT-based solutions could bring benefits and drive efficiencies. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial vibe and a big interest in technology,” he explains. “I’m one of those guys that’s always bridged IT


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“There’s a lot of opportunity for change. If you’re open to change, it’s a pretty cool place to be right now” — Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction

and business, even when I started at Toronto Dominion Bank, where I spent the first nine years of my career.” Having the fortune and talent to work for some of the largest, primarily Canadian, companies in the market — Davis & Henderson, and WSP — Bryant found that one thing consistently attracted


him: great work culture and great colleagues. Regarding the honour of being named the 2019 ‘Canadian CIO of the Year’ by ITAC, Bryant was clear on what he regards as the key to his success. “It’s a pinnacle award for me from a career perspective,” he says. “But if you don’t have an amazing team around you, you don’t win ‘CIO of the Year’. My team at PCL has been instrumental in executing the vision that I’ve had.” For PCL, that vision meant making a fundamental shift away from ‘legacy IT’ and towards becoming an integrated business technology group. “Initially, IT was focused on keeping the lights on,”

PCL’s Digital Transformation CLICK TO WATCH



07 says Bryant, describing the limitations

management applications, the com-

of the previous tech culture’s scope.

pany has striven to be an active

“One of the things that I’m most proud

participant in the change, rather than

of is my team’s transition to realise our

merely reacting to it. According to

new strategic vision.” More specifically,

Bryant, there is a reason for this. “The

Bryant has spearheaded a new range

construction industry historically has

of products and services for PCL to

been underserved by the software

drive productivity, efficiency and safety.

development community. As one of the

This approach has proved crucial

oldest industries in the world, a lot of

in an industry that is typically slow to

practices in construction haven’t

adopt the latest trends in digitisation.

changed.” Due to the nature of the work,

Bucking the trend, PCL has been

which requires a vast amount of manual

focused on developing this aspect of

processes to function, cvonstruction

its operations for over 30 years. From

has been among the last industries

homegrown estimating software to staff

to embrace the digital revolution. w w w.p cl. com


APRIL 2020


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However, with investment capital


for efficiency, as was integrating its

starting to flow into the industry,

technology more intelligently to allow

a huge influx of new thinking has

innovations a quick gateway into daily

opened doors for IT and business

operations. “If something new comes

professionals. “There’s a lot of oppor-

along that’s better, faster, or makes

tunity for change. If you’re open to

more sense for our business, we can

change, it’s a pretty cool place to be

rip out the incumbent technology and

right now.” The digital transformation

plug another one in. An integration

for PCL began with what Bryant calls

framework allows us to be very agile.”

the ‘four pillars’: cloud, integration,

This shift away from a ‘waterfall

mobility, and data analytics. Shifting

development cycle’ also means that

the company’s large volumes of data

applications and services can be

from its hundreds of yearly projects

brought out in weeks or months,

to the cloud was a significant move

rather than years.


Mark Bryant As CIO, Mark is responsible for the strategic and innovative advancement of information technology (IT) within the PCL family of companies. Mark has over two decades of IT expertise, having served in the financial services, software, manufacturing, and AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industries. Prior to joining PCL, he led the technology operations at a century-old financial services firm and was CIO at a leading planning, engineering and consulting firm. Mark received his business administration accreditation from Sheridan College in Ontario and additional credentials related to ecommerce from the Ivey School of Business. He completed his CIO MBA at Boston University.


Mobility and the ability to collect

and utilised in fascinating new ways,

data from the field is also crucial to

such as monitoring conditions at the

PCL’s operations. With the advent of

work-face of construction. “The IoT

smartphones and tablets, the company

platform is 100% data driven, enabling

was able to find a way to gather this

real time alerts to anomalies and is

information more simply. More data

extremely extensible, allowing for the

also meant that an overhaul of the way

addition of new capabilities quickly.

the company performed data analysis

It allows us to make better decisions

was crucial. The launch of PCL’s smart

because now we’re doing something

construction platform Job Site Insights™

with data that wasn’t historically avail-

— a key Internet of Things (IoT) based platform and one of the core focal

able.” says Bryant. Another great example of data

points for the company in 2020 —

being an enabler is a hazard inspection

meant that data could be collected

safety application exploiting AI w w w.p cl. com


“PCL Construction is a juggernaut of innovation in the industry” — Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction


Taking Safety into the Digital Realm CLICK TO WATCH




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technology to scan photographs and identify hazards. PCL has been able to reduce the time and labour spent on a crucial task — safety inspections — without sacrificing quality. His goal is nothing short of the total digitisation of the construction industry, including how it measures quality, safety, financials, work schedules, performance and more. Data is the essential element of the large-scale

“Our people and our culture really are the difference. I am passionate and excited about what we’re doing. I couldn’t find a better company to do it at” — Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction

improvement PCL is striving towards, as are close relationships with the

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15 partners and suppliers with which

a partner with a vested interest

the company works. Emphasising the

in helping us drive efficiencies.”

collaborative nature of the construc-

Microsoft will also be instrumental

tion industry, Bryant believes that

in PCL’s integration of blockchain into

PCL’s business relationships in 2020

its logistical operations, as well as

are going to be of paramount impor-

billing and receiving.

tance. “I’m really focused on continuing

Similarly, Pype has a special

to build a partner ecosystem of compa-

relationship with PCL; the company

nies that want to share our vision and

leverages Pype’s ‘AutoSpecs’ product

success as we digitise construction.”

to enhance operational efficiencies.

“We have a fantastic relationship

“They’re a great example of a startup

with Microsoft,” he explains

in the construction industry that is

(Microsoft provides PCL’s cloud-

using artificial intelligence (AI) to

based services). “They’re not

review submittals and show us areas

a supplier to us, frankly. They’re

that we should focus on.” w w w.p cl. com




• The IoT platform is 100% data driven • PCL work on between 700-800 projects each year • 4,000 full-time professional and admin staff and more than 10,000 hourly tradespeople

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial vibe and a big interest in technology” — Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction

Another partner offering exciting solutions to PCL is Australian company Willow, providing ‘digital twin technology’ to create a virtual model of assets, processes, systems, and other entities. “The concept of a digital twin has been in the airline and automotive industries for years,” says Bryant. “It has not been applied to construction, so Willow will be a significant partner for us in their smart building strategy.” Even though he has established an exciting technological vision, Bryant hasn’t forgotten that changes in the construction industry are not easy to introduce. With new technologies being introduced at breakneck speed, it’s possible that staff will reach a saturation point in their ability to adapt. However, it is by fusing the knowledge w w w.p cl. com




“Digitisation is not an option. Digitisation is an absolute necessity” — Mark Bryant, CIO, PCL Construction

and experience of its field staff and technology staff, who have been working on-site for 40+ years, with the latest IT tech that PCL hopes to gain a major advantage in the market. Adopting a ‘crawl, walk, run’ philosophy of introduction, Bryant is confident that PCL will add new digital aspects at an appropriate pace. “It blows my mind how complicated our business is and how our people do such an excellent job,” he states.


Year founded

$6.95bn Revenue in US dollars

4,000+ Number of employees


This represents the crux of PCL’s

difference between those companies

digital transformation for Bryant: “Our

that realise this and those that don’t.

people and our culture really are the

PCL Construction is a juggernaut of

difference. I am passionate and excited

innovation in the industry and, to me,

about what we’re doing. I couldn’t find

that’s super exciting.”

a better company to do it at.” Thinking about the journey that PCL is embarking upon, Bryant considers the upcoming change to be inevitable. “Digitisation is not an option. Digitisation is an absolute necessity. You’re going to see a big w w w.p cl. com

9915 56th Avenue NW Edmonton T6E 5L7 Canada T 780 733 5000 www.pcl.com

Profile for Business Chief USA

PCL Construction - April 2020  

PCL Construction - April 2020  

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