Reflecting on International Women’s Day

On ‘International Women’s Day,’ we took a look at the careers of some of Blach’s most respected and successful employees, who also happen to be women. Here are some of their thoughts about construction as a career for women, specifically at Blach Construction.

Senior Project Manager, Kristen McLean, joined Blach straight from Santa Clara University’s Civil Engineering program and has been on a fast pace ever since. She said, “I love my job! It's challenging, rewarding, sometimes frustrating, but never boring. When I first started in this male-dominated industry I was intimidated and curious as to how I would find my place in it. Through the support of Blach's senior management and my co-workers - particularly the superintendents - I've found my place and realized that women can be just as, if not more, successful in this industry than men. I recently had a conversation with a seasoned superintendent who had not yet worked with a female project manager. He welcomed the opportunity and was looking forward to it – I think that shows how much the perception in the industry has changed.”

Cal Poly alumna, Nicole Johnson, is an Estimator. She stated that “there has never been a better time to be a woman in construction. Many traditional barriers are falling, leaving more opportunities for women. As our workforce has evolved, women have been gaining leadership positions both in the field and in the office, and are paving the way for younger women to follow suit. Relationships are more important than ever in business. From networking to customer service and subcontractor relationships, cultivating long-term relationships are key. I think this is a particular strength shared among women in our company.”

Amber Emery joined Blach after graduating from UC Berkeley’s Civil Engineering program. She has moved up the ranks to Project Manager, and when asked for her thoughts about women in construction, she said, I love being able to bring a ‘woman’s touch’ to what is considered a male-dominated trade. I am able to get things done by using my knowledge, organization and strategic planning skills, and find that I quickly earn the respect of my partners so we can work together on building successful construction projects.”

University of Michigan alumna Krissy Schreiber, Senior Project Manager, stated “when people ask me what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field like construction management, they’re often surprised when I tell them that it’s probably not a lot different than being a man in the same role. The key is to be knowledgeable and confident, and the respect will follow, regardless of gender. I am proud to work with a supportive, intelligent group of women at Blach that have all earned respect from their clients and colleagues.”

Santa Clara University Civil Engineering alumna and Blach Senior Project Engineer, Cassie Camilleri, told us “there is a stigma in the construction industry about whether or not women are capable of succeeding in a role historically dominated by men. Blach breaks down those barriers and not only seeks out talented and driven women to fill technical positions but also gives them, and all employees, every opportunity to thrive in their careers.”

When Project Engineer Katie Blach, graduated from Boston College she went into the financial services industry before joining Blach. She says, “I came from a male-dominated industry and expected construction to be much of the same…while the overall industry still has a ways to go I believe Blach has so many talented and excelling women across every division of the company, from Preconstruction to Project Management to Accounting to Business Development to Marketing to HR.  It’s very exciting! The community of women at Blach is incredibly supportive, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the mentorship of many of these women.”

As Katie mentioned, Blach has provided outstanding career opportunities for women in all parts of the company. Sabrina Jasso, our Manager of Field Administration, has worked in several positions since joining the company and has successfully managed to balance her career and her family. She mentioned that “working for Blach has empowered me to pursue my goals. It effectively works on developing our individual talents, allowing us to become successful employees. During the course of my 15 years at the company, Blach has supported me as a continuing student and a mother of four – all while working full time.”

Blach’s Contracts Manager Michelle Mazzarini, “was raised in a household where I was encouraged to pursue the field of my choice. I don’t want anyone to think that they cannot attain certain roles or gain respect, especially in fields like construction. Blach is great in that it provides career support and encouragement to all of its employees.”

Erin Heck, our Facilities and Office Manager, believes that “the natural and often complementary differences between men and women have served in three meaningful ways: its brought a more accepting environment that invites significant innovative advances to the construction process; its encouraged a shift away from an emphasis on the efforts of an individual to one that is much more about the efforts of the team and lastly, its brought more sincerity toward efforts in the way we develop strong, long-lasting customer and partner relationships.”

As you may expect, these strong, talented women have some similar, and some slightly differing perspectives about women in construction. One constant is that they all believe they are working at a company that fully appreciates and further develops all that they can bring. Blach is an equal opportunity meritocracy – in fact, the perfect place for our women to shine!

Posted on March 03, 2015 by Gaye Landau-Leonard
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