A Lifelong Passion for Construction

Anthony DiGanci (MPM '19) was introduced to construction at a young age, but it was his time in Northwestern's Master of Science in Project Management (MPM) program that gave him greater insight into managing a construction business.

Anthony DiGanci (MPM '19) was born to work in the construction industry. His father Mark has worked as an architect and general contractor in Chicago for decades. Instead of stereotypical father-son activities like watching sports or fishing, Anthony and his dad bonded over discussions about architecture and urban planning.

Once he was old enough to work in the field, DiGanci soaked in as much about the industry as he could. He listened to instructions and followed requests from master carpenters, site-superintendents, project managers, architects, developers, and a variety of clients. “It seemed like a giant puzzle to me how all these pieces would fit together to deliver a final product,” DiGanci said. 

Today DiGanci gets to put those puzzle pieces together as director of project management at DCS Midwest, his father's Chicago-based firm that handles the construction of both commercial and residential properties from beginning to end. Since graduating from Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Science in Project Management (MPM) program, DiGanci has advocated for his company to hire more MPM alumni. He recently explained his reasoning for that, what it was like to be a veteran in MPM, why he opted to enroll in the program and the difference it has made for him on the job.  

What inspired or motivated you to apply to the MPM program?

I suppose I applied to the program out of a desire to discover a hidden piece of myself I knew was somewhere within me. More practically, I wanted a program that could offer me some direction on how I might be able to improve the culture and dynamics of my family-owned A/E/C business.  

When I was in high school and college, I kept busy during the summer months by working for my father as a carpenter’s apprentice on residential and commercial projects. I experienced and learned about the various disciplines that were brought together to deliver a final product to the end-user. However, I did not find it gratifying having a limited perspective of the bigger picture while working as a construction laborer. I tried to grasp the bigger picture by asking a lot of questions to each project stakeholder with whom I had an opportunity to interact.

With a thirst for knowledge and without knowing how to rely on myself to find the answers, I discovered Northwestern's MPM program. MPM offered instruction from leading industry professionals in the career path I felt destined for. It was one of my greatest personal achievements being accepted into the MPM Program and having the opportunity to learn from and with some of the brightest minds in the construction industry. 

How have you applied what you learned in MPM to your role at DCS Midwest?

A personal mantra I took with me after graduating from the program is, "Think project controls and continuous improvement." This simple thought grounds me each morning I step into the office or onto a jobsite. I spread this message across my team and encourage them to think critically and communicate effectively throughout the various stages of a project’s life cycle. More specifically, team focus and communication have improved within nearly every discipline of the business, from transaction management to project reporting and logs, scheduling, estimating, and procurement, to most importantly, commanding safety guidelines and a respectful work atmosphere for all.

You have four MPM graduates currently working with you. What makes somebody that has been in or is currently in the program attractive to a business?

Personally, I think it is the culture that attracts me. Although we are each from diverse cultural backgrounds, we as MPM graduates have developed our own unique common culture that has been tried and tested through the academic pipeline. The program itself has set a high standard and level of expectation for students to successfully complete the coursework. Knowing that each MPM member of my team has been through the program, each having substantial work experience and other STEM-related credentials provides me with a high level of trust that I rely on. Additionally, they’ve each proven to be highly adaptable, proficient, and committed team-members to meet the demands and requirements of our specific work assignments.

You joined MPM a few years after serving on a submarine in the US Navy. What was your experience like entering MPM as a veteran?

I felt very welcomed as a veteran. The university administration and MPM program were very accommodating to me transitioning into the program. Once enrolled, I felt it was a tremendous opportunity to study and work alongside students from across the country and the whole world. Really, once in the program, you gain a sense of common culture. The university and MPM program were outstanding in delivering a welcoming and inclusive environment, so I feel thankful each day for having had the opportunity to take part. 

What would be your message to a prospective student who is working in construction or engineering and is interested in the MPM program?

In terms of this program's intellectual resources, this might be the most comprehensive project management program available in the region, and quite possibly, the most valuable in the entire country. If you aspire to manage your own A/E/C business or wish to work within a larger A/E/C enterprise, the MPM program is resourced to equip you with the tools needed to ready yourself to advance to the next level in your career.

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