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How One Construction Administration Alum Is Challenging the Way the Industry Measures Value

“The scholar-practitioner model makes it like no other program in the U.S.” says Tanya Deegoju (’24SPS, CNAD) when describing the M.S. in Construction Administration at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies (SPS).

Deegoju was hired as a project analyst for Turner & Townsend following a seven-month internship with the global professional services company during her final year at SPS. In a recent chat, she shared what initially attracted her to the program and how her time at SPS helped her transition from student to intern and ultimately industry professional.

What initially attracted you to Columbia’s M.S. in Construction Administration program?

What drew me to the M.S. in Construction Administration program at Columbia is something I've shared often with new students in public forums, and even during job interviews. There’s no better program in the U.S. in which industry leaders from New York City, managing mega-projects worth millions, come together to share the best practices right in our classrooms. These professionals aren’t academicians; they’re leaders who are active in their fields and aim to make us leaders too. Our classes were in the evenings, allowing us to get involved in their projects during the day.

Instead of typical assignments, we worked on case studies, project reports, presentations, business proposals, and biddings—practical, real-world scenarios. That’s exactly what I was looking for: something real and hands-on. This program gave me, as an international candidate, a true sense of the U.S. market and how things operate here. Plus, doing all this right in the heart of New York City was the best experience ever!

Can you tell us about your capstone project?

My capstone project, titled “Quality as a Currency,” explores the concept that quality should be the primary metric for assessing the value of construction projects, rather than just cost or time. Inspired by John Ruskin's quote, “Quality is never incidental; it is always the result of  intelligent intentional effort,” my thesis argues that quality encompasses more than technical specifications.

The capstone project examines how current Project Quality Plans (PQPs) typically focus on technical  dimensions and often overlook non-technical aspects such as socio-economic impact, community well-being, cultural significance, and environmental sustainability. The tool I developed, referred to as Unity, seeks to redefine how we measure the success and value of construction projects by emphasizing the importance of quality in all its facets, thus pushing the industry to adopt a more integrated and forward-thinking approach to project management. Through the research, I created a comprehensive framework that incorporates both technical and non-technical quality dimensions, ensuring that project managers can deliver more holistic and impactful construction projects. 

Congratulations on being awarded The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) Scholarship. Can you tell us what this recognition means to you?

Thank you! Receiving the CMAA Scholarship has been incredibly meaningful to me. The CMAA Metro NY/NJ Chapter Scholarship Award reinforced my decision to pursue a career in the U.S. construction industry. 

I am honored and proud to receive this recognition from such a prestigious national organization. Attending the award ceremony, where over 200 industry leaders from prominent firms and public departments in New York and New Jersey gathered, inspired me. The award was the beginning of my full-scale exposure to the US construction industry. I went on to be the Women in Construction representative at NYBuild and received recognition from Columbia SPS Dean Troy Eggers in his inaugural speech at graduation. The reputational impact has been astronomical and I couldn’t have asked for it to be any other way!

Currently, you are a Project Analyst for Turner & Townsend, where you also worked as an intern. How did your time at Columbia SPS prepare you for your current role?

The transition to the industry through Turner & Townsend has been a fulfilling one. Recently, while submitting my employee visa paperwork, I had to describe how my work at the company relates to my master's degree. This exercise made me realize just how much my strong work ethic, practices, and knowledge come from my time at Columbia. 

Going through my transcripts, I could clearly see how the learnings, case studies, and project work from the M.S. in Construction Administration program directly applied to my projects at Turner & Townsend. One particular mega project in New York City required me to revisit foundational concepts, as our project management team was responsible for overseeing project performance in all aspects, from budget and contract compliance to client interfacing, project management planning, schedules, key deliverables, resource management, and field visit guidance. I could confidently bring innovative solutions and industry concepts to my work because of the solid foundation the program provided.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing their master's degrees in Construction Administration at Columbia?

Be ready to relearn, rediscover, and rebrand yourself. Follow in the footsteps of others who have left strong impressions in the paths you want to walk. Learn from their mistakes, take—and leave behind your own legacy for the next generation to follow.

About the Program

Ranked No. 1 among the 25 Best Master’s in Construction Management programs by Great Business Schools, the M.S. in Construction Administration at Columbia University School of Professional Studies prepares construction professionals and those in related fields to tackle, lead, and shape our built environment. The 36-credit program is available full-time or part-time.

For more program insights, news, and events, please visit our website and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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