Case Studies

Antony Cannell – Metro

Building communities by modernizing technology and managing effectively

The municipality of Petawawa in Ontario, Canada, has many things—a Canadian Army garrison, a heritage village—but until recently, the town of roughly 81,000 did not have a discount grocery store.

Metro, a Montreal-based food purveyor, set out to change that. The company, which has over $19 billion in revenue and 95,000 employees, is building a 32,000-square-foot outpost in the town. And helping to steer that project through to fruition is Antony Cannell, Metro’s director of engineering and real estate project management.

Cannell has been working on the project since 2014, obtaining building permits and site plan approvals and overseeing a redesign of the building and site, among other things. As he explains it, residents of Petawawa previously had to drive an hour to get to a comparable grocery store.

Antony Cannell | Director, Engineering & Real Estate Project Management | Metro

“The town of Petawawa was willing to work with us, to help us as much as possible to get the approvals,” he says. “And now we’re in a position that we’re committed to begin building this fall, and it will take us nearly a year to fully open the store, including site work and store construction.”

The project has hit its share of obstacles—the COVID-19 pandemic, for one, but also questions about site viability and the need to juggle other pressing projects. Through it all, Cannell has focused on providing the physical infrastructure necessary to offer affordable and quality groceries to Metro’s Canadian customers while also raising money for local charities. He thinks of it, he says, as “a community effort.”

Cannell says the Petawawa project is scheduled to be completed in the late summer of 2024.

Modernizing markups and estimations

Cannell is not just bringing affordable food to Canadian communities; he’s also modernizing the way Metro does that through technological innovation.

“I’m a big supporter and proponent of technology and the use of technology on our jobs,” he says. “A big part of my work is applying technology to our projects.”

Antony Cannell | Director, Engineering & Real Estate Project Management | Metro

Antony Cannell | Director, Engineering & Real Estate Project Management | Metro

For example, Cannell uses Bluebeam to digitally mark up documents and drawings and share them with colleagues. Before, he says, he would have to print out a full-size set of drawings, make markups and do area calculations by hand.

“Bluebeam has some great functionality—you can compare drawings,” he says. “So, if you use it correctly, it’s very beneficial.”

And when Cannell is working on a major renovation, he will use estimating software called Bluebeam to figure out area calculations, amounts and so forth, feeding them into the project’s costing model to determine how much the renovation will be. This has helped him, and his estimator be quicker and more thorough in what they do.

“For project estimates, I do a lot of data analysis using Power BI from all our project data from live schedules and cost,” he adds. “Then I pull all that information and assess costs and trends for a given type of project.”

Collaborating with Revit, Cupix

Cannell has also improved efficiency by implementing Revit, a drafting software from AutoCAD to the 3D arena.

“Everything becomes a model including architectural, mechanical, electrical, structural—they build their models, and you combine them all into one, and you’re looking at everything together,” he says. “This allows you to see it in three dimensions. In the past, you wouldn’t pick up clashes and [conflicts in the models].”

Essentially, Cupix is a collaboration tool. Cannell uses it to get everyone on the same page, to hash out challenges and issues and to agree on solutions. The overarching goal is to create a 3D digital twin, track construction progress and resolve site issues. He implemented Cupix to compare 360 capture reality and compare it to the BIM design model; it can also track construction progress and resolve site issues.

“That wasn’t there even four years ago,” he says. “The technology has come so far.”

Antony Cannell | Director, Engineering & Real Estate Project Management | Metro

In practice, this means that Cannell will oversee the laser scanning of a building, which is then used to build 3D models from point clouds in Revit.

“When we’re doing roof replacements and new roofs as part of our major renovations, we go, and we put an infrared drone, and it identifies leaks or any cooling or issues with the membrane,” he says. “And then we can go back to the landlord and say there’s no doubt this is the issue. It’s in this area of the roof. You have to repair it, or we must take responsibility. We’re using tools that we didn’t have in the past.”

Learning leadership

A graduate of Kingston University in London, England, where he studied manufacturing systems engineering and business, and the University of Cape Town, where he studied project management, Cannell started his career in 1994 as an engineering technician with Smith Mining Equipment. Then, from 2001 to 2002, he served as a lecturer in information systems and administrator at the University of Cape Town.

In 2003, Cannell joined Barclays as a project management coach, and in 2004, he signed on as an underwriter with the global reinsurance company Generali. After stints at Stackpole International and PMI Lakeshore Ontario Chapter, he became an associate director at Turner & Townsend in 2006. That led to a senior project manager role at Roche Pharmaceuticals, and then, in 2013, Cannell assumed his current role at Metro.

Antony Cannell | Director, Engineering & Real Estate Project Management | Metro

While working at Roche, Cannell came across an article on management skills that he says changed his career. It taught him how to provide feedback, how to delegate, how to mentor and how to coach direct reports. He credits Mark Hortsman and Michael Auzenne, the co-founders of Manager Tools, with showing him the way.

Cannell also credits Jim Mantua, his VP of real estate, as an “extremely good” mentor who opened new opportunities within Metro for him.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” he says. “I honestly can say you can’t have career development without some help along the way.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IX 2023 Edition here.

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