Pandemic Response, Healthcare and Construction Management: Meet Nina Hamamura

We are continuing our series with Senior Project Manager Nina Hamamura, who is working at the forefront of COVID-19 response with Jensen Partners. Nina holds an MBA in Sustainable Business from Marylhurst University and is a LEED Accredited Professional. She completed a Studio Arts and Film Studies degree at the University of California, Irvine.

Nina, your background is fascinating and very multifaceted. What is the journey that brought you to healthcare?

My background is actually very diverse. I completed my undergraduate degree in Studio Art and Film. I originally wanted to work in the film industry but found another path and transitioned into the construction industry. My construction experience started with an underground pipeline contractor. From there, I transitioned into the hospitality, where I worked directly for ownership. That is where I gained valuable insights into the owner side of projects.

I liked construction, but I always wanted to do work directly related to helping people. I had even thought about becoming a nurse at one point and decided that wasn’t my path. Jensen Partners has been a great opportunity for me to bring my construction project management and owners representation experiences into healthcare. I greatly value our work, because it’s part of a bigger healthcare system that helps people.

That’s a very interdisciplinary, exciting journey! What does construction management entail?

Construction management depends very much on what the client needs. In project management, there’s owners representation project management, and then there’s the contractor’s perspective. I have worked in both capacities. With one particular project, I worked as an owner’s representative, providing general direction and project management. On another project, the client needed much more hands on, detailed construction management. Our work entails adaptability and leadership, depending on client needs.

You are working on pandemic emergency management since the beginning of COVID-19. Tell me more about this work.

I’m working as part of our team supporting institutional responses to COVID-19. While pandemic response work is related to construction, I am primarily bringing my procurement skills to the table. Interestingly, I have prior procurement and expediting experience, which has helped these time sensitive projects. Especially during disaster and pandemic response work for all our clients, we’re able to draw upon existing procurement processes that I established.

The pandemic revealed to us the necessity of expediting materials needed for advanced medical tents, durable medical equipment and consumable supplies. I assess the situation on site with the team, and we put together various puzzle pieces for hospitals addressing the pandemic: planning, operations, staffing, medical personnel, transportation, health staff. For example, for a confidential a project with a state, I think there is an exceptional task force working on multiple elements at once. It has been an excellent experience to work with different people and see how everyone comes together as a team at a time we need to all step up to address the pandemic.

How has the pandemic changed or confirmed some of what you know about construction management?

During the previous recession, construction was a major industry that lost jobs and revenue. Many companies closed, and construction essentially stopped. However, during the pandemic, construction has actually continued, because it’s a critical source that still has a major need.

For example, we are seeing great examples of temporary structures to support hospitals. They look somewhat similar to construction trailers, yet they are much more durable and functionally valuable. These structures are deployed on site with a quick construction turnaround, and hospitals can almost immediately start seeing additional patients. The construction industry has been able to come up with innovative alternatives that help at this time and really expedite established processes.

Are these changes driven by temporary structures going to cause a lasting impact?

Yeah, that’s an interesting question. We are in conversation with various manufacturers about how these alternatives can possibly be made into more permanent structures because of the efficiency in constructing them. The fact is that they are more than just tents, but they do have a somewhat limited lifetime, dependent on weather and maintenance factors.

This is very impactful work. What do you value most about being a part of the Jensen Partners team?

Throughout my career, I’ve had experience working with very different styles of leadership and company cultures, and I learned a lot from those experiences. One very unique and valuable aspect of working with Sarah and Frances is that they promote an uplifting culture. I think that they really hold true to their commitments to the team, and there’s a sense of learning, mentoring, and supporting each other. And I know it sounds all rosy and cute, but it is real. Working with Frances and Sarah has shown me how they develop employees and encourage the team by putting each other on different projects, so that we get to contribute to a variety of projects and continue learning.

On top of that, they’re both very strong leaders, and very respected in their own right because of their experience. It is very motivating and inspiring.
One of the biggest things that I like about what we do at Jensen Partners is teamwork and being able to draw upon other colleague’s experiences, strengths, and then excelling together at the operation we’re trying to achieve.

Thank you, Nina! We look forward to your future projects and contributions to innovative healthcare construction projects.