On-Site Magazine

Virtual Event
On-Site 40 Under 40 Symposium 2023
September 28, 2023 at 1:00pm ET

Panel 2 – Mentorship: Building (and benefiting from) a program


  • James Dawson-Edwards
  • Zachary Ellis
  • Cora Pulnicki
Numerous companies in Canada’s construction sector have mentorship programs in place. Not only do these programs help them differentiate their company when trying to attract new workers, the programs can also help identify internal candidates for advancement to greater roles in these companies. In this session, we turn to representatives from a few of these companies to explore the motives for having a formalized program, how they went about setting up their programs, unexpected benefits (such as mentors learning from younger workers), and best practices that help make their programs, and their people, more successful.

James Dawson-Edwards
James Dawson-Edwards is a training manager at Graham Construction. James joined Graham in 2005 as junior project coordinator in the industrial sector shortly after graduating from civil engineering at University of Alberta. Over the next 12 years he worked his way up to project manager, managing projects valued at up to $120 million in the oilsands. In 2017, he began to use the lessons he learned over the past decade to help build some of Graham’s first internal training programs, including the Builders’ Framework, which has since become accredited though Gold Seal. He has gone on to lead development of additional training programs including Future Builders – a program focused on help promising foremen and general foremen prepare for the additional responsibilities of superintendentship – and the Graham Graduate Program, a targeted program to help those newly graduated or new to construction get training with real world information to jump start their capabilities and careers. James is committed to supporting new and existing employees by making sure they have the right information to complete their work with confidence.

Zachary Ellis
A strategic thinker and a highly motivated individual with 20 years of experience in construction, Zachary Ellis is the vice-president of operations, civil Ontario, at EBC Inc. He is a graduate of the civil engineering program at the University of Waterloo and has spent the past two decades leading complex infrastructure project operations for such clients as TTC, City of Toronto, Metrolinx, and Waterfront Toronto. Known and respected for his inspiring leadership skills, his passion for a job well done and for meeting all objectives set forth, Zach successfully represents EBC in Ontario, and is a champion of his company’s work to provide mentorship opportunities to its personnel.

Cora Pulnicki
Cora Pulnicki is a project engineer with RJC Engineers in Toronto. Having delivered the design, coordination and construction for a number of RJC Engineers’ complex high-rise structures, Cora brings a wealth of technical expertise to the table. With a strong focus on problem-solving and a creative approach to finding solutions, she has developed internal technical standards and optimized workflow processes to deliver exceptional results. Cora has played an active role in the firm’s mentorship program, investing time and energy in guiding aspiring engineers toward their own success.

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