It's Women in Construction Week! Promoted by The National Associate of Women in Construction, this week is a way “to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry."
In celebration of this week we asked some of our women in construction and project management about their careers. Here's what they had to say:
Huldah Gronvall, PE, Senior Project Manager
Why did you choose to work in construction? I always liked to build things, and I worked on construction crews as a teenager and in my early 20s. I had a degree in structural engineering, but I didn't want to sit behind a desk and do design; I wanted to be part of the building process.
What do you like most about your work? Making clients happy and being with a project as the finishes go in – to watch how satisfied the clients are – and the variety of work that I do each day
What is your favorite project? I don't know if I have a favorite – my last senior living project had a lot of tough details which were challenging but also super rewarding when it all came together at the end – but in hindsight, was probably more stress than satisfaction.
What is your advice to women considering or beginning a career in construction? Know that it's not going to be a peaceful or easy job – it's going to be a slog most days, dealing with many different people, all who have different agendas – all while doing the tough work that goes into building a building – but it'll be awesome because the hard work will pay off to a great product.
What unique strengths do you think women bring to construction? I'm not sure how to describe very clearly the difference between what women bring to the industry versus what men can. I think they both can be super similar – just depends on the approach – but if I were to stereotype, it would be more thoughtfulness, sometimes better solutions, better communication (both written and spoken), more empathy and more human connection. I know a fair deal of men who can do this, too, but women learn these skills much earlier in life so it comes more naturally to them as adults in the professional setting.
Kelsie Lanz, Associate Project Manager
Why did you choose to work in construction? My family has a background in construction with my grandpa (now retired) and one of my uncles working as Laborers. My other uncle runs his own construction business building residential homes out in Seattle. Then there is my mom who is a realtor, and I grew up touring many properties with her. Basically, I have grown up surrounded by construction and have been interested in it since I was little. I chose the Civil Engineering route in school and came to learn that I enjoyed the construction side during my co-op and internship experiences.
What do you like most about your work? I like that every day is different, this is not a monotonous job – there are always new challenges to face and different systems, details and strategies to learn. I also love that I get to leave the office to visit the jobsite to be part of the action.
What is your favorite project? I really enjoyed working on The Marke as I often bragged to friends and family that I was working on a luxury apartment building! I also very much enjoyed the Fiat Chrysler (aka FCA) mechanical training center build out as I was the primary project manager and learned a lot from it. The client was also wonderful to work with, which made the project very enjoyable.
Check out our latest white paper to read about Kelsie's great performance on the FCA build out.
What is your advice to women considering or beginning a career in construction? I would say not to be intimidated by it! We bring a different perspective to the table. For example, on The Marke I was excited to take charge on the interior amenity space finishes as I wanted to work closely with the interior designers to help select finishes and layouts and present the options to the Ownership team. This is something the guys on my team did not find appealing, so they were happy when I was interested in running with the interior amenities.
What unique strengths do you think women bring to construction? From what I have found we bring a more productive and calm energy during meetings as the guys tend to be on better behavior with a woman present.
Sarah Jane Moerbe, Associate Project Manager
Why did you choose to work in construction? My passion for architecture and design began at an early age, and I decided to pursue a career in civil engineering with a minor in architecture to be well rounded in the design world. When I discovered construction management was a great opportunity to combine my engineering skills with my passion for design I decided the construction world was meant for me.
What do you like most about your work? I love seeing the tangible results of my work. There is no feeling quite like driving by a completed project and knowing the hard earned hours you put into make an idea a physical reality.
What is your favorite project? The project I have most enjoyed doing during my career was building an airplane hangar on a private ranch in South Texas. I got to learn a lot about construction and airplanes and even fly down for meetings in a jet. The hangar was for a woman who competitively races planes, and it was clear that the project was her passion and we got to serve her by building it.
What is your advice to women considering or beginning a career in construction? It may not always be easy, but the reward for being in this industry and doing something out of the norm for a lot of women is worth it. Don't be afraid to stand out.
What unique strengths do you think women bring to construction? Women are uniquely created to bring a level of leadership that doesn't just look at the facts, but utilizes relationship building and multi-tasking. Many women experience the ability to easily wear multiple hats and provide a “Jill of all trades" approach. I think these attributes, partnered with the established strength of male leadership offers a company the best advantage. The industry overall benefits from the variety of perspectives and backgrounds.
Read thoughts from Beth Duyvejonck, soon-to-be Regional Vice President of Construction, and Megan Hunsberger, Project Manager, from 2019.