Selina Maddock never planned to move to the United States and work in law. Her plans were to travel to Asia, teach English, and live an expat lifestyle. Yet, Maddock’s plans didn’t come to fruition. Instead, she visited the U.S. and decided to remain in the country.
Maddock took the New York Bar Exam and moved into the world of law. After working for Neil A. Weinrib & Associates, Maddock took a position with the well-renowned New York City construction company, Navillus.
As General Counsel at Navillus, Maddock is in charge of a range of legal affairs at the company. She recently sat down with Totalprestige Magazine to talk about her role at the company and career.
Selina, you began working for Navillus as General Counsel in 2016. What led you to the company after working for Neil A. Weinrib & Associates?
While I was working at Neil A. Weinrib & Associates, Navillus actually reached out to me to see if I would be interested in coming into their offices for a chat. I did and the rest is history.
Can you tell us about Navillus and some of the projects it has worked on in New York City?
Navillus was founded back in 1987 by three Irish brothers – the O’Sullivans, which for those it may not be obvious, is Navillus spelt backwards. Navillus started as a subcontractor performing tile work but went on to become one of the largest tile, masonry, and concrete subcontractors in New York City, as well as a general contractor on public projects. Navillus has worked on some of the most notable projects in New York City. To say we built the New York skyline would be an understatement. From building the 9/11 Memorial, to performing the concrete superstructure work on buildings such as One Vanderbilt and Manhattan West North and South Towers, as well as stone, tile, and masonry on iconic buildings such as Grand Central Terminal, Madison Square Garden, USTA National Tennis Center, and the Apple Flagship Store. We are currently working on the restoration of the Brooklyn Bridge as well as building nearly 10 new schools for the New York City School Construction Authority. We have also just reached substantial completion on our first design build project with the TBTA.
You are originally from Ireland, but moved to New York City where you took the state’s Bar Exam. Why did you make the decision to move to the United States?
I was originally going to go to Asia and teach English before I returned to Ireland to sit the Irish bar exam but I decided to travel to the U.S. for 12 months first and then head to Asia. In the end, I just never left the U.S.
How difficult was the move from Ireland to the US and how quickly did it take to study for the New York City Bar compared to working as a solicitor in Ireland?
The biggest challenge with studying for the New York Bar was actually the multiple-choice portion of the exam. I hadn’t sat a multiple-choice exam since I was 12 or 13 – the majority of exams in Ireland are essay based. As the legal system in Ireland is also based on the common law system, it certainly made studying for the New York Bar easier.
Prior to studying law, you obtained a degree in microbiology. Why did you make the transition from science to law?
I had originally planned on studying medicine after I finished my Microbiology degree but I took a year and did a diploma in legal studies and decided I liked law more than science so instead of going the medicine route, I went to law school.
Can you tell us about Navillus and the services/products it provides customers?
Navillus is a construction company that serves as both a subcontractor and general contractor. We perform work for both public and private clients although at the moment, the majority of our work is public work. The biggest reason for that is because the private market has gone nonunion and as Navillus is a union contractor, we are unable to perform, say, the concrete superstructure work like we used to several years ago when union contractors dominated this work.
What are some of the duties you undertake as General Counsel at Navillus?
As General Counsel to Navillus, I am responsible for all legal aspects of the company from negotiating contracts, corporate requirements of the company, managing outside counsel, and compliance to name just some of the tasks. Also, given my previous work with Neil A. Weinrib & Associates, I do all our immigration in house.
Since 2014, Navillus has made more than $1 million in charitable donations. Selina, can you tell us about Navillus’s charitable side?
Since the beginning, Navillus has always been very aware of the importance of corporate social responsibility. Over the years, both Navillus and its employees have donated countless hours and money to so many great and worthy causes. For example, immediately after Hurricane Sandy some years ago, Navillus was one of the first responders. We went out to the Rockaways for weeks helping residents clean out their houses as well as setting up tents for food and heat. Likewise, after the hurricane in Haiti, Navillus employees went down to Haiti to assist with the relief effort. More recently, we have got involved in drives such as Winter Wishes, Kids in Need Foundation – School Supply Drive, and Toys for Tots, which we just completed for 2021 a few days ago. Last year, we partnered with the New York City Food Bank and raised close to $25,000 which Navillus matched for a total close to $50,000. Out of this money, we hosted a food drive for local residents at a New York City Housing Authority complex in the Bronx as well as setting up a campus pantry at a local school in the Bronx The campus pantry will provide food to its students and their families through the end of the academic 2022 year.
Where do you see Navillus in the next five years?
I see Navillus bigger than it is now. I see Navillus continuing to grow and not just within New York City, but outside and hopefully working in other states.
What do you see as your future as an attorney?
After working both in a firm and in house, I definitely prefer in house so whatever happens, I believe I will remain in the General Counsel position. In house allows the building of relationships that you can’t get if working in a firm. When you are General Counsel, you have one client so it becomes so much more personal which I really do love.
Selina, what is a day in your life like?
Emails, calls, meetings, more emails……. With so many projects as well as the company’s executive team and the various departments, there is always something that needs to be done or answered or addressed and often I get those requests all at once. As Navillus is my only client, each question or task from whomever in the company is as important as the next so no day is ever the same.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I don’t drink tea or coffee. Most people think this is absolutely crazy when they find out. The only caffeine I drink is a couple cans of coke during exams.
What makes you smile?
Heading to the airport. Travel is the thing I love the most and so heading to the airport, regardless of the destination, will always make me smile.
What scares you?
Giving up without trying
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
That people would stop making assumptions or thinking they know a person without actually knowing their full story.
For more information on Selina Maddock and Navillus Contracting, please visit https://navillusinc.com/