This month, rand* joined its peers and partners in the industry to celebrate Women’s History Month, including a weeklong celebration of Women in Construction Week and International Women’s Day. These occasions remind us of the importance of women not only to rand* and the construction industry but also the vital role women play in their homes, communities, and workplaces.
Today, we’re excited to spotlight two female leaders of rand* – Laura Dennis, Account Executive and Lindsay Parker, Project Executive and Co-office Lead and share their experiences after a combined 30 years in the industry as well as their thoughts on how to attract and retain the next generation of female leaders to the field.
Q. How did you get started in a career in the construction industry?
Laura: Construction is all I’ve ever known. My father is a general contractor in Mississippi, and I spent every day after school at his office studying and playing basketball with superintendents and even wrapping my textbooks with blueprints. I always knew I’d work as a GC and started my career with a small firm and have spent over 15 years in the industry primarily with rand*.
Lindsay: I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Civil Engineering. After several years working as a land development engineer, I realized quickly that my passion was not there, and I wanted something different. I consider myself very outgoing, and I didn’t want to sit behind a computer all day anymore. I wanted to be on the other side of things interacting with people and being in the mix. I was introduced to rand* from a friend and started in the Virginia office as an APM.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Laura: I love working with our clients and partners and building strong relationships with them. Establishing trust is important in this industry, so laying the foundation is critical and can be beneficial, especially when you need to have a difficult conversation with a client down the road.
Lindsay: I enjoy working with our teams, specifically new PMs, being able to assist them with challenges, and helping them to find their place within the organization and grow in their role.
Q. What gaps, if any, do you see standing in the way for more women to pursue a career in construction?
Laura: I honestly believe that many women don’t realize it’s an option for them. The more obvious choices are becoming an architect or designer, but there are many more paths for women. There’s a perception in the market that construction is only grunt work or a dirty job when the reality is that we get to work on amazing projects that are extremely high-end, and we have an opportunity to work with some of the most intelligent people across all trades.
Lindsay: It’s the unknown and the idea that construction is only for men. I believe if more women understood the various roles and career paths available, they’d be more inclined to pursue a career in construction. In Denver, for example, I often sit in meetings where teams are 90% female. As an industry, we can do a better job of helping to remove the stigma of construction work by putting more women at the forefront.
Q. As an industry, how can we attract and retain the next generation of talent to the construction industry?
Laura: I think we’re missing an opportunity to reach the next generation before leaving high school. There’s so much emphasis on college and not enough discussion around working in a trade. I strongly believe getting the word out about the career options available could help attract more young professionals to the industry. Regarding retention efforts, what I love about rand* is that I have a strong support system and can lean on my team when necessary. Everyone is going through the good and the bad together, and we work hard not to let each other down. I also think it’s important to help team members develop skills and best practices to manage their workload better to help reduce burnout.
Lindsay: I think many people, both male, and female, want to be challenged in their careers. Highlighting the fact that no two days are the same in construction and that you will be continuously challenged is important. I also think sharing with young adults leaving high school and/or college that construction is exciting, face-paced, and a lucrative career would be extremely helpful in attracting the next generation.
Q. What advice would you give to women beginning their career in construction?
Laura: Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. It’s inevitable, and you need to correct it if possible and then move forward. I also think it’s important to find a mentor or cheerleader who can guide you and advocate for you throughout your career.
Lindsay: Find a female mentor who can help guide you and never stop asking questions.
For nearly 33 years, rand* has been committed to building a team of professionals with a passion and drive for success, many of whom are women. We are always looking to grow our team with professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences. If you’re interested in learning more about rand* and our career opportunities, please visit our careers page.