In the growing A/E/C world the need for professionals who are sure of themselves and their abilities is ever growing. What skills do we need to lead the industry into the future?
A powerhouse panel of industry leaders kicked off the Construction Institute’s day-long Women Who Build Summit on February 21, by sharing insights gained through their personal stories.
Laura Cruickshank, associate vice president, master planner and chief architect, of the University of Connecticut, said that an important lesson she’s learned over the years is “to keep the big picture in mind while focusing on the details.”
Frank Hayes, chief operating officer/building division president of BOND Brothers, Inc., whose industry career began in the field, told the audience that they need to cultivate three types of skills as they move forward in their careers: technical, management, and leadership.
“Learn to be a good communicator” was the advice from Kevin Griggs, president and CEO of Fuss & O’Neil.
Patricia Filippone, executive director, University of Massachusetts Building Authority, says her approach has always been to learn as much as she can about the jobs she has done and to take risks. “Put yourself out there,” she advised, which means letting people know what you can do and what you want to do.
Their advice about undesirable qualities was just as valuable. According to the C-suite panel, the three attributes that are most negative are “ego,” “being too political,” and “failure to listen.”
“How Obstacles Can Become Opportunities” was the title of the keynote speech by Denise M. Berger, chief of operations/engineering department, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who shared her personal career growth story and all the trials and “aha” moments that moved towards her present position. Three themes emerged from her story.
“Be an advocate for yourself.” If you know your value and you know your strengths don’t be afraid to demonstrate them in your career.
“Have a vision.” Figure out what you want out of your career and life and create a game plan to make that happen.
“Accept challenges.” Never be afraid of a challenge. Challenges are the time to show the world what we can achieve.
Muhammad Ali once said, “It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself. “ If fear of failure prevents you from believing in yourself, that fear can separate you from your true potential.
True leaders are those who create leaders. Whether leading by example as a role model, mentoring, training, or supporting, true leaders are those who share their expertise and support throughout their careers.
As an organization dedicated to promoting collaboration, leadership, and communication, the Construction Institute was proud to honor two individuals — Champions of Change — who exemplify those qualities.
The 2019 Champions of Change were awarded to Laura Cruickshank, associate vice president, master planner and chief architect, University of Connecticut, and James Kodman, associate director of facilities engineering and construction at Pratt and Whitney. Over the years, each has demonstrated a consistent and generous commitment to the mentoring young people in the industry and a special commitment to supporting the training and advancement of women.
The overarching theme of the day — collaborate to construct your future — brought together more than 280 industry professionals to learn, share experiences and network. The Construction Institute looks forward to holding its Fifth Annual Women Who Build Summit in 2020.
Nancy Greenwald is the executive director of the Construction Institute. Aimee Hernandez is a senior at the Barny School of Business, University of Hartford and an intern with the Construction Institute.