Day in the Life - Sean Lal

Sean Lal is based in Toronto and is a qualified solicitor in the provinces of Ontario (Canada) and New York (US) with more than 10 years of experience in construction commercial / contracts management.

What work do you do for Systech?

I serve Systech in two capacities. The first as a Senior Commercial Advisor for our client, a government entity responsible for managing and integrating road and public transport in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas. I also provide legal support to Systech’s clients across Canada.

What is your typical day?

A typical day consists of managing commercial issues across various infrastructure projects. This includes, providing strategic client advice to avoid claims. I usually meet with project delivery teams across the organization to keep up to date on various commercial issues and ensure the projects are progressing smoothly.

After work I like spending time with my family, particularly since I became a dad, and carrying out my hobbies, such as adding to my LEGO, vintage games and card collections. I also like to go boating, fishing and playing golfing, and I am a diehard Blue Jays, Maple Leafs and Raptors fan!

What are the interesting aspects of your work?

What makes my work interesting is that no day is the same. Every day there is a new issue that requires close attention. On these major infrastructure projects, the contracts are complex and a lot of times can be interpreted in multiple ways. Even minor issues can have significant implications on a project’s success (from a budget and time perspective).

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is building trust with contractors. In order to be successful and avoid claims on projects, the owner and contractor need to work collaboratively to resolve issues. Many times, contractors are focused on the commercial matters because of budget issues (particularly in fixed price contracts). Breaking down those commercially barriers is tough, but once done remarkable results can be achieved!

What training and support has Systech given you?

Systech has a vast network of individuals working across the globe in diverse capacities. Having access to that network is advantageous because more than likely someone has seen the same issue or something similar and can provide support. Knowing that exists provides comfort and confidence in my daily work.

What words of advice would you offer someone thinking of working for Systech?

Do not be afraid to ask for help. The people at Systech are what makes this company so successful, and they all have knowledge and skills that you can rely on.

What is the culture like?

The culture is very collegial and friendly. You will quickly make lifelong friends at Systech.

How has working for Systech helped you achieve your career goals?

Working at Systech has allowed me to develop skills that I never had before. For example, working on the government side, I was never exposed to such rigorous processes and procedures. I have since learned how to navigate those processes and procedures and systematically present issues to senior management.

What makes working for Systech different from the competition?

Definitely the people. Systech attracts the brightest minds in the industry, and it is amazing to have a network of people who are so knowledgeable.

What has been your greatest achievement working for Systech?

My greatest achievement has been being able to make an immediate impact on the projects I work on. Systech has enabled me to work in senior positions on projects that allows me to expand my experience and expertise, whilst having decision making autonomy.

Tell us about learnt key lessons when working on projects?

I aim to develop a claims resolution process that is agreed between the parties and that is in line with the contractual requirements. I try to build a collaborative trusting relationship with the other side as this helps resolve issues expeditiously.

Another important lesson is to establish a forum where key issues [including potential claims] can be discussed "without prejudice". I find this allows the parties to communicate openly without fear of divulging sensitive information.

It is important to be open-minded and flexible when working in teams comprising of specialists from different companies, with different corporate cultures. It is important to always understand their approach and perspectives in order to work in a collaborative manner.