The Early Years
As a woman in construction, I have experienced firsthand the challenges and triumphs of working in a male-dominated field. Even though my career journey has had its fair share of challenges and self-doubt, I truly believe that engineering was what I was meant to do. During my childhood growing up on an island off the east coast of Canada, I had a unique set of experiences that helped shape my interest in engineering and construction, although at the time I wasn’t aware it was engineering and construction. It was just fun back then! Some of the most memorable experiences for me were participating in math league and underwater robotics throughout junior high. I was often one of the only girls in these activities, but this never stopped me as I found these spaces provided me with an escape from typical junior high things and I found something that I was truly passionate about.
Another experience that really shaped my journey was when I was chosen for a community development trip to Costa Rica during high school. We were tasked with supporting a local community by refurbishing an elementary school, building a basketball court and creating a pathway through the rain forest to help the community. Itit was this experience that helped me discover my passion for being in the construction field, being hands-on, volunteering and seeing progress with my own eyes.
Finding My Own Path
Despite these experiences, when I started university, I was still undecided about what I wanted to do so I began with general studies. However, my older cousin’s interest in mechanical engineering caught my attention and I applied to the engineering program during my second year. Once I started the program, I saw that there was a volunteer trip similar to the one I had done in Costa Rica, but this time it was in Louisiana to support communities impacted by Hurricane Katrina. This really piqued my interest, so I applied to the program and was accepted! I would go on to volunteer in the program for the next several years rebuilding areas affected by Katrina and I would say that these trips solidified my career path towards civil engineering.
In addition to these volunteer trips, I also had the opportunity to participate in various engineering internships throughout my degree, which allowed me to gain hands-on experience in my field of studies. For the first two years, I stayed close to home and pursued oil and gas internships. After two years of working in my own backyard, I wanted to push myself and get out of my comfort zone, so I requested to do my next internship in another country. Thankfully, my request was granted, and I spent three semesters over the next 2 years working in Houston, Texas with an incredible group of people (one of whom would later become my husband) and had the time of my life! But as all good things must come to an end, I finished my university degree and had to figure out my next steps.
Stepping Into The World of Construction
After taking the summer off to travel to South America and reflect on my career path and next steps, I stopped in Texas on my way home to Canada to visit my boyfriend and happened to meet a friend who was working in construction. He encouraged me to apply for a job at his company. Despite not having a ton of experience in the heavy civil construction sector, I’m not one to turn down an opportunity so I went ahead and applied and interviewed. To my surprise, I got the job! I flew back to Canada a few days later, packed up all of my things and in three week’s time moved to Texas to start my new job.
After a few years working at that company, my career took another change as I was recruited by Webber for a project engineer position in 2019. I was really excited about the position because it was a new challenge, so I accepted the position and jumped right in! My first two projects were over $100-million, which were significantly bigger than anything I had worked on before. Although it was quite intimidating at first, the team at Webber made me feel supported and instilled confidence in me that I could do it. I learned so much from those projects in regard to planning, budgeting, communicating, and executing while working within a constantly changing environment. It is so fulfilling to work with such driven and likeminded individuals, I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished and the challenges we have overcome along the way. Before completing the second project, I was promoted to project manager, and I relocated to Austin to start up the IH-10 Guadalupe County project, which is a three-year project and the first project that I will see from start to finish as a project manager, so that’s quite exciting!
It’s All About Community
When thinking about my professional journey, I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunities I’ve had and can’t help but feel grateful for those that have helped and supported me on the way. Some of the challenges I have faced as a woman in construction is feeling like I couldn’t relate to others as much as I had wished and having to break down assumptions on many occasions. However, by having a strong support system and good mentors, I was really able to carve my own path. I have to admit that it was scary and intimidating at first, but as I started finding my footing, I could feel my confidence growing and I realized I had what it takes all along to be successful in this field.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far is the importance in finding your community of support. Since joining Webber, I have been able to become a member of the Women of Webber group, which is a community of women focused on supporting each other within the construction field. We highlight women’s achievements, host guest speakers, and hold events to build community. We also come together to advise on company policies in an effort to build a more equitable workplace. One of the things I’m most proud of is collaborating to help create a company-wide maternity leave policy, which hadn’t existed prior.
Looking back on my journey, I have to say that we’ve come a long way in respect to diversifying the construction field. I believe women and men both bring such unique perspectives to the field and by harnessing the strengths of both, it will only propel us further. I have seen so much change in my relatively short career thus far and I’m incredibly optimistic about what the future holds in terms of bringing more diversity into an area that has historically been so male-dominated. My journey as a woman in construction has been filled with challenges, but it has also been empowering. Developing young talent and watching them grow to love the construction industry as much as I do is incredibly fulfilling. I am proud to represent women in leadership roles and be part of an industry that is constantly evolving and breaking down barriers for other generations.