April 24, 2018

Employee Spotlight on Meg Drennen

Apr 24, 2018 – Herndon, VA – Meg Drennen, NCIDQ, is an interior designer, equipment planner, and relocation specialist is currently leading AFG’s on site team for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Program Management contract. Meg recently celebrated her 11th year of employment with AFG, so we thought we’d ask her a few questions about her experience in the AEC industry and specifically with AFG.

You’ve been with AFG for 11 years – congratulations! What has kept you going all these years?

“I enjoy problem solving above all else. Interior design involves creating relevant and appropriate solutions to projects and or existing problems that people have with their spaces. I help other people do their jobs and enjoy their work. There is variety in my everyday work that is exciting; my career in interior design has included architectural test-fits, furniture development, design development and documentation, construction management, and program management. I enjoy working through all stages of a project from development to completion and keeping stakeholders up to date.”

When did your interest in interior design begin?

“As a child, I enjoyed art and music above all of my other classes. In the sixth grade, I learned about interior design officially in a short 3-week class where we created furniture layouts, drew floorplans, elevations and then rendered these spaces in colored pencil. I decided that was what I wanted to do for a career.

I attended the University of Maryland to study interior design and discovered that I loved corporate space planning. Using codes and building parameters forced us to carve up floorplans and identify restrooms, break rooms, conference rooms, offices and workstation areas while maintaining appropriate code compliance, specifically life safety. This was creative problem solving and I could spend hours on a project and time would pass so quickly.”

You have quite a bit of data center experience too, isn’t that right?

“I do. I worked with MCI Telecommunications where I used AutoCAD and worked with brokers to select the best spaces for new call centers throughout the US. I created test-fits with call center management while creating scopes of work for design and construction services for spaces ranging from 50,000 to 90,000 SF.

Data Centers involve the most coordination with engineers through development. As the owners-rep I worked with MCI telecommunications staff, center management and upper level management to complete projects ranging from $4-8 million dollars. During construction, I would visit each site bi-weekly, keep management up to date on progress, walk the site, meet with subcontractors as needed and after reviewing, approve all documents and field issues. I created scopes of work for mover services and coordinated all deliveries of new furniture, created punch lists and signed off on each installation and was on site for the relocations.”

In addition to being an interior designer, AFG knows you to also be an expert in relocation and move coordination. How did that come about?

“I started move coordination and planning as an aside to interior design in facilities with all new furniture or minimal reuse. My move planning career began at an AE firm working for General Services Administration (GSA) on a Social Security Administration (SSA) move to a new facility in Pennsylvania. I created the CAD move plans and coordinated furniture reuse and placement. For MCI Telecommunications and then Winstar Wireless, I was onsite and oversaw relocations of basic “contents” moves.

I also worked at Chevy Chase Bank (CCB) as the Deputy Director of Interior Design where I immediately had to close out two office buildings of approximately 20,000 SF and remove all contents for broom-clean turnover to the landlord to close out leases. CCB had just built and relocated into a new office building in Bethesda, MD that I was directly responsible for. My division coordinated $1 Million of work each year, which included building a new office suite of 10,000 SF and a training facility.”

What has been the most challenging project that you successfully managed?

“At the GSA, as the Senior Relocation Manager with AFG, I created the phased move plan for the Mary E. Switzer Federal Building Consolidation for the Department of Health and Human Services and tracked staff movements, furniture acquisition and setups, inventory, and to/from location information. The project was highly complex and one of GSA’s largest consolidation projects of 2016, involving the relocation of 1,600 employees coming from 11 locations throughout the DC metro-area into a 590,000 SF historic facility. The project won the 2017 Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) National Capital Chapter “Award for Construction Management Excellence,” and was happy to have been involved.”

What project are you working on now with AFG?

“I have migrated into the world of healthcare & laboratory facilities at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) where I work with a variety of clients and end-users to address their building and/or furniture needs. I coordinate and temper these needs with existing facilities, and National Institutes of Health (NIH) as the landlord, and have done so now on hundreds of spaces on campus. My role is to educate the staff and scientists on the best value, best schedule, and often lead them towards the least invasive options to provide quality solutions and service.”

Any advice for those starting out in the AEC industry?

“1) Be professional – show up ready to work.

2) Ask questions, follow through, and learn as you go.”

About AFG Group, Inc.

AFG Group, Inc. is a woman-­owned firm focused on multi-­disciplined program, construction, and relocation management, with a national portfolio of work in healthcare, laboratories, courthouses, educational facilities, and government buildings. With 30 years of business acumen, AFG has earned a reputation for providing strong expertise, responsiveness, and project execution that helps owners navigate through complex design, procurement, construction, and activation processes.