Meet Metropolis . . . Penny Laughlin, Operational Linchpin
This article continues our series on the men and women who make magic happen here at Metropolis Group. If you would like to recommend someone for a future employee spotlight, please email us with your nomination and let us know why you love working with this team member.
Director of Operations
Metropolis Team Member Since . . . September 1998
After studying at the College of Staten Island and graduating from business school, Penny Laughlin began working for an architectural firm on Staten Island that specialized in custom homes. She coordinated projects, learning how to read plans and, more importantly, how to work with the various city agencies, including the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the City Planning Commission (CPC).
After three years, she looked for a new opportunity and discovered Metropolis Group. She joined the firm as a project coordinator and quickly fell in love with the city’s historic architecture, especially the landmarks. Penny embraced the research and problem-solving aspects of her role and worked her way through the project management ranks to her current position as Director of Operations.
Role at Metropolis
Both Metropolis Group and the New York City construction industry have changed dramatically since Penny joined the firm. As construction codes and technology continue to evolve, she works closely with all the project teams to stay abreast of new regulations and procedures. Part of her role involves collaborating with Metropolis employees to field-test new agency processes.
“My team and I see what we can do to make the process smoother so we can help the project team succeed,” she says. “We have a good team, and we collaborate often. More ideas from different people often deliver better results.” Together, they recommend ways to streamline internal processes, and they also share insights at industry meetings to help the DOB and other agencies refine procedures.
Best Part of the Job
As much as she loves the behind-the-scenes look at New York’s architectural history, Penny prizes her colleagues at Metropolis even more. “I work with all of the teams here, and everybody brings something to the table. Without their collaboration and input, we wouldn’t be able to serve our clients like we do. Everyone works together to find solutions, and when we succeed on a project, the whole team gets excited.”
Though not a client project, the industry’s rapid move to online processing after COVID-19 shut down the country presented an exciting challenge for Penny and her team. Their intimate understanding of DOB and FDNY processes over the years allowed them to adapt to the new, virtual plan examinations and procedures. They shared their experiences and recommendations with the agencies to help smooth the transition in the early months of the pandemic.
In her spare time, Penny enjoys volunteering within her community and the construction industry. She served as a parent liaison for seven years with the Boy Scouts of America, and she supports various community events, including fundraising efforts for Habitat for Humanity. Penny is also a member of Professional Women in Construction, a national nonprofit that supports, advances, and connects women and promotes diversity within the architecture, engineering, construction (AEC), and related industries.