To know him is to… know him.

Siena’s Chief Operating Officer George Poulos celebrates 16 years with Siena Construction this September. As COO, George is responsible for the daily operation and efficiency of the Cambridge-based construction management firm. A COO’s job includes a little bit of everything: from designing and implementing business practices, to overseeing staff hiring and responsibilities, to managing relationships with clients and vendors.

While George takes all these responsibilities seriously, he also knows that in the deadline-oriented and sometimes stressful field of construction management, levity is also a vital business practice. Always quick with a (sometimes funny) joke or clever (sometimes appropriate) turn of phrase, George is a fun-loving and charismatic presence in the office. Though beneath this seemingly casual demeanor (and attire), there’s a hardworking, dedicated, and extremely loyal individual who cares and thinks deeply about his family and friends, coworkers, the future of the company, and Boston. George has deep connections to the area – he grew up in Marshfield, graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Civil Engineering, and now lives in Milton with his wife Nicole and two children, Evi and Peter.

It takes intelligence, intuition, candor, and some gambler’s courage to succeed in construction. Considering Siena’s growing client base, staffing loyalty, and revenues as measurable indicators, you could reason that this has been a successful era for Siena, with some thanks to George’s input.

Siena’s President Terrence Hayes has withstood George’s antics since his first day. When pressed for comment, Terry, thinking carefully with his chin rested on his hand, contemplated the rising steam from his cup of tea, and, 30 minutes later, remarked sardonically. “Yep, George, he’s a real jerk but he’s one of our favorite ones.”

To celebrate George’s work anniversary, we asked him a few questions about his work and life. Thanks for all you do for Siena, George!


So, what do you actually DO around here?

What do you mean by “actually”? Also, what do you mean by “around”? Officially I’m the Chief Operating Officer (COO). In practice, I like to think I’m the eyes and the ears of the office. Though I’m not the longest tenured employee here, I think I’ve logged the most “office hours”. They don’t let me out much. A big part of my job is making sure everyone is happy here. I’m the first to figure it out when someone needs more support for their project, or someone wants custom Siena board shorts for the beach. I can usually deliver a solution.

How did you break into the industry?

I graduated in 2001 from Northeastern with a BS in Civil Engineering. I really had no idea what I wanted to do. A neighbor brought me in to Siena and I interviewed with Greg Antonopoulos. He hired me! (Maybe it was the Greek connection?) Four years after, Greg moved on to another company. A decade later, I was a part of bringing him back to Siena as Siena’s current Director of Operations. Full-Circle.

How has Siena changed since you began? What’s stayed the same?

Siena has always had a family type atmosphere with an employee-first attitude. Pat Hayes founded the company with that goal in mind. His son Terry has continued to build on the tradition. It seems like the biggest change has been that there’s more energy here at Siena than ever. Maybe it’s that as I get older, I appreciate the energy of others more than I did when I was the one producing the energy.

In your opinion, what is Siena’s je ne sais quoi that makes it so special?

Pretty sure it’s my jokes. There’s only one person that I can recall who thinks my jokes are tired and stupid – she knows who she is.

How has the construction industry in Boston changed since you began?

Technology. I don’t consider myself “old” – it’s only been 16 years – but when I started everything was done via fax. It was wild. You learned to love the fax machine – it was a magical piece of technology. Now when I have to “fax” I do it through Snapchat, linked to Facebook, linked to my Cloud-based office phone.

What’s your favorite success story on a Siena job? What were the project’s obstacles?

Every job is a success story. Every job has unique obstacles. I think the key is to make jobs as uneventful as possible. We’re pretty good at that. We work in a lot of sensitive spaces, from secretive labs performing crazy science to lowly bathrooms. No one wants you running around yelling “SUCCESS, SUCCESS, SUCCESS” in either of those environments. We just have to do our job so the people we’re working for can get on with their jobs.

What are you proudest of in your work? What keeps you coming back for more?

We have a bunch of motivated people here at Siena who are distributing their effort in different directions every day. But if you step back a bit, you realize that we’re actually all pulling in the same direction. I think I’m most proud of how people seem to enjoy coming to work and doing what they’re doing. That’s what keeps me coming back – the fact that the people around me keep on coming back.

On a side note, we’re also pretty decent event planners. I’ve considered a spin-off but keep getting push back from the accounting department.

Can you say more about Siena’s event planning?

Siena supports Razia’s Ray of Hope, which is a local organization started by the mother of a childhood friend of mine. They built an all-girls school in rural Afghanistan and have made huge strides in changing the hearts and minds of the local community there. Last fall, Siena hosted a screening of a documentary about the school. We had about 200 people attend the screening at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge and a cocktail hour beforehand. I never imagined how involved it would be to throw a party of that size, but was fun!  And of course, it was for a great cause.

How does fit into Siena’s larger vision of community involvement?  

As a company Siena likes to give back to the community, in Cambridge and beyond. The screening and reception were a great chance to bring together our friends, family, and colleagues in support of a nonprofit that is doing important work half way across the world. It was a reminder how important our small community is to the global community. I may have used the word “community” too many times in my response. I’m an Event Planner, not a Linguist.

What’s your vision for the future of Siena?

Siena is in an interesting spot. We’re a well-established company with a great name in the industry. We also have room to grow, and we have been growing. The trick is to grow slow enough so our service doesn’t suffer, and at a pace where we can hopefully be part of building the next miracle company. They don’t come along too often, so we better be ready.


What was your first job ever?

When I was five years old, my parents owned a market in Marshfield. I used to go in on Sunday mornings with them at 4:00 AM to “stuff” the Boston Globe (it came in parts and you had to put it together). I also helped pick the bad tomatoes out of the box. Bad tomatoes are the worst type of bad.

What’s more challenging, being a COO or being a dad of two kids under five?

Good question. I don’t know, both are challenging and both are rewarding. I get food thrown at me at home. I get food thrown at me in the office. The big difference is my kids like to bite my nose.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

Back when I had spare time, I used to like trying new restaurants. This is weird, because I’m not much of a foodie. I just like good company and to be out in public, I guess. Wow, there’s a lot I didn’t know about myself. Thanks for spotlighting me.

George’s Favorites:

Favorite movie: Karate Kid

Favorite music: The Boss (Bruce Springsteen). Right now, “Backstreets” is the song of choice, and “No Surrender”.

Favorite sport/team: New England Patriots

Favorite restaurants: Barcelona in Brookline; Committee in the Seaport

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere in Greece.

Favorite saying (clean version): I don’t really have a favorite saying…but I like this story. Back when I was younger (in high school), there was this foreign exchange student who loved American sayings. Sometimes he got them right…sometimes he got them wrong. His favorite one was “You know what I’m saying jellybean” (of course he meant “you know what I MEAN jellybean”). I always thought his version was much catchier. So, from time to time I’ll use his “You know what I’m saying jellybean”. It’s fun. You should try it.