Featured Women of TEXO:
In honor of Women in Construction (WIC) Week 2022, TEXO is shining the spotlight on five incredible, capable women who are bright stars in our North & East Texas construction community and within the TEXO membership. We wanted to dig into what their day-to-day lives look like in their various niches within construction, the winding roads that brought them to into the sector, how they got involved in the association and what advice they would give to other women interested in starting careers in this important industry.
According to the National Association of Women in Construction, the theme for this year’s WIC Week is “Envision Equity,” which seeks to raise awareness of opportunities for women to enjoy a wide range of roles in the construction industry, from tradeswomen to project managers to administrative positions and even business ownership.
We hope that sharing the stories of these five women with such different roles and backgrounds will help to raise the much-needed awareness for the various paths that those interested in joining the construction community can take to start their own fulfilling, life-long careers.
Q: What does your day-to-day look like working in the construction industry?
(Katayoun): As a project manager, most of my day revolves around managing the project and ensuring my team has what they need to keep moving forward. This entails collaborating with our trade partners, spending time on the jobsites, and supporting my team while also continuously growing and learning from them.
(Nicole): An ordinary day for me in the construction industry involves marketing the firm’s services to prospective clients. This includes searching for leads for future project opportunities, working with the marketing team and project managers to determine if these leads are something to pursue, and then collecting all the information together to chase the opportunity. My involvement in TEXO adds other miscellaneous things to my day, such as committee meetings and prepping/planning for events related to those committees.
(Sindhu): My day-to-day differs a lot, and that is something I love about the construction industry. I lead a team of VDC* professionals in our Texas offices. Serving their needs is my primary responsibility.
- Helping our AustinEDGE team develop VDC plans for project success.
- Educating clients on the value of technological tools.
- Helping our business development and preconstruction teams pursue and win work.
- Helping our staff develop new skills, manage their workloads, and challenge them to continue to develop their leadership skills and providing them with an environment of support and empowerment.
In addition to these, I still enjoy getting my hands dirty with BIM coordination, project BIM execution plans, construction sequencing animations, 3D logistics plans for pursuits, field technology, research and development of new processes and tools, supporting universities with guest lectures or case studies, etc.
*Editor’s Note: Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is a type of technology that creates digital models of buildings and project sites.
(Yasmine): The best part of the day-to-day in construction is that no day looks the same. From being out on the jobsite to exploring new technologies and processes to help our company grow, each day is unique. I work heavily with our entire team to manage all incoming bid requests, contracts, project awards and overall process implementation. Consistency in delivery and efficiency in our process is how we ensure we fulfill our promises and take care of our clients. Working hand-in-hand with our clients and our team, we are continuously seeking ways to improve to become a better construction partner.
(Brittany): My day-to-day is different than most. I work for a professional services company for the construction industry. My daily activities are based more around trying to connect with and promote individuals, trade associations as well as the industry as a whole. My days are built around building relationships with amazing people.
Q: What led you to a career in construction?
(Yasmine): Growing up around construction, I knew it was always a possibility. After graduating college and becoming a realtor, I saw the opportunity and need in the construction industry. The growth and opportunity I saw throughout the industry, and specifically at Carrco, excited me to what the subcontractor space could become. I decided to come into the family business, learn the trade, and apply my skillsets to continue building the legacy left by the entire team at Carrco.
(Brittany): The people. I started out in the oil and gas industry, and by age 30 had been through three major oil downturns. Despite the downturns, I realized the most rewarding part of my job was the people I met and the relationships forged. I knew that was the direction I wanted to go with my career. Relationships are everything to me, and there is something raw, genuine and kind about people in the construction industry. These people will forever hold a special place in my heart. In fact, my husband is now in the industry!
(Katayoun): My father was heavily involved in the industry. An architect by education, he switched gears and started his own brick manufacturing company. My childhood consisted of posing in photos of completed projects and “borrowing” the nicest rocks from the aggregate piles. He also put his architecture degree to good use, designing (and playing contractor for) the house I grew up in. You can say I was always subtly influenced — I like to think it was a subconscious decision to end up in construction.
(Sindhu): While pursuing my bachelor of architecture degree, I took construction management as an elective. This sparked my interest, and I wanted to learn more about construction. After working for 2.5 years as an architect in India, I moved to the United States to pursue a master’s in construction management. After I graduated, I started out in estimating/preconstruction and learned how project budgets get put together. Eventually, my interest and aptitude for BIM/VDC made me transition into that realm, and I never looked back.
(Nicole): My father and grandfather were both in the construction industry, so I already knew that it was possible to have a lucrative and successful career in construction. However, I never had a desire to keep that legacy going since I knew I wanted to do something related to marketing/communications. After realizing my first job out of college wasn’t for me and talking with my dad, I decided to see what kind of opportunities the construction industry had for a communications professional.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job and/or working in this industry?
(Brittany): Again, people and building relationships. The most rewarding part of what I do is make connections — a lot of times without any personal or professional benefit. If I can make a useful connection between a contractor and subcontractor or help a woman new to the industry find a great opportunity with a contractor, then the industry is better for all of us.
I grew up around a large and hardworking family, and we all played a lot of sports. Construction, like sports, requires everyone to work together as a team to achieve our goals. This was most evident — perhaps more than any other time — during the height of COVID-19. The industry banded together and navigated a difficult time, coming out stronger and more successful than ever.
(Sindhu): One thing that drew me to the AEC industry is the pride that comes with looking at one’s work. I drive around the city and show my family and friends with great pride the projects I help build and it is amazing to me that the work I put in place outlives me.
(Yasmine): I love the people. We have a very collaborative team that is consistently pushing to be better. That challenge and camaraderie in the pursuit has been extremely motivating. I also enjoy working with our clients to see the impact and relationships formed from challenges and project successes.
(Nicole): My favorite part about my job is the pride that comes with contributing to the growth of the firm I work for. Also, the people I get to work with every day, the relationships I’ve built both internally and externally through TEXO, and getting to meet and work alongside such a diverse range of people.
(Katayoun): The people aspect of the industry, which may not be what comes to mind when most people think construction. But we are a very social and collaborative industry. Construction wouldn’t move forward if it wasn’t for the continuous communication and teamwork between all the partners involved. The feeling you get when you reach a solution to a complicated install onsite, working with the design teams and trade partners, followed by seeing it installed is one that is inexpressible.
Q: How are you involved with TEXO, and what led you to get plugged in?
(Nicole): I am in the Young Constructors Council (YCC) on the TEXO Foundation High School Outreach Committee serving as the liaison for Denton ISD, and am currently the chair for the TEXO Women’s Committee. I got plugged in originally by attending a networking event at Painting With a Twist when I was brand new into the industry, and over time I realized that there were multiple avenues within TEXO where I could get involved in areas I was passionate about.
(Yasmine): I have been involved in the TEXO committees and events since joining Carrco. I recently joined the YCC and participated in the Women’s Executive Leadership Program. I cannot recommend more the impact that getting involved with TEXO has made on my career. The support, education and opportunities you get to connect and learn from leaders and peers is invaluable.
(Brittany): I am extremely involved through my support of all P&A’s involvement with TEXO. We are a Challenge Cup sponsor and have attorneys that participate in several committees, including Executive Development Partners, YCC and the Legislative Committee. In addition, we represent TEXO at the AGC-Texas Building Branch and the AGC National levels.
The year Meloni Raney became president and CEO of TEXO was my first year in the industry, and we created a special bond. I am so inspired by what Meloni has accomplished thus far and think the world of the TEXO staff, Executive Committee and Board of Directors that surround her. To be a part of something so amazing has truly been an honor.
(Katayoun): I had heard about YCC when I joined the industry and was always very intrigued. So when I joined Skiles Group and saw how involved our leadership is with TEXO, I considered that my green light to get as involved as I could be. I am currently serving on the YCC Steering Committee as liaison for the Foundation Committee, as well as with the YCC Women in Construction Group.
(Sindhu): I have been involved with TEXO since 2014 initially through the YCC. I wanted to connect, grow and serve the industry I love and TEXO provided me an avenue to do those. Currently my involvement with the Executive Development Partners only enhances everything we did during my time at YCC. TEXO played an integral role in teaching me essential leadership skills that I continue to develop to this day. Always learning!
Q: What advice would you give to a woman looking to enter the construction industry?
(Sindhu): We need more women in the construction industry. From field engineering to accounting to VDC to project management – the opportunities are endless. The advice I would give to a woman is to keep an open mind. If VDC is not your cup of tea, maybe try estimating or being a superintendent. If you are still in college, try to do a variety of internships so you may identify your passion before graduation.
(Katayoun): Just be yourself. You joined construction for a reason and you should follow that passion. Leverage your strengths and try to learn something new every day. Seek advice from those who have more experience, but also be confident in your decision making.
(Nicole): I would say to acknowledge what benefits and strengths you as a woman bring to the table and run with it. Then leverage it and show everyone you are here for a reason. Be confident in yourself and speak up — whether that means sharing an idea/solution or asking a question about something you’re not sure about. The more women we have in the construction industry, the more the gender bias is removed.
Lastly, we as women bring a much-needed balance in the workforce. Our perspective can help change the industry and bring value to the workplace and you can contribute to that change.
(Brittany): Dive in headfirst! It has been an incredible experience for me and I can honestly say that there is something for everybody. There has never been a time with more opportunities for women in the industry. When people think of the construction industry, they tend to think of golf tournaments, fishing tournaments, clay shoots, etc. That’s just a small piece of the puzzle. There are many other committees, activities and opportunities to get involved and engaged.
(Yasmine): Understand your value and contribution as a team member. We are all vital and have our specific strengths and weaknesses. Being able to rely on your team and being relied on is crucial in construction no matter who you are. Understanding where you can contribute the most to your team can be a big part of your success. At the end of the day, just remember to be confident and stick with it.