What mentors or mentoring opportunities have made the greatest impact on your career path?
Here at BOND, Paul James, Senior Vice President, Risk Management & General Counsel is the mentor that has pushed my career path to new heights. Working with Paul has taught me that thoroughness, attention to detail, and always being prepared will help me be a better resource and support service to the people I work with. Frequently, he will push me through exercises where I doubt myself. But, after successfully completing them, I find myself saying, “I know this material. I can do this.” Paul tests my knowledge and skills daily, and this has helped me build professional confidence. If I come to him with an idea, a different approach, or a general question, he is always open to discussion and encourages me to pursue a different path with his support along the way.
In addition, Paul consistently reminds me to reflect on my accomplishments, and to take pause to recognize where I started compared to where I am now. He has made a lasting impact on my career and I am excited to continue my work with him here at BOND.
What advice would you give young women considering a career in construction? What things should they look for or ask?
For young women considering a career in construction, I would tell them two things: one, don’t take anything personal; and two, you don’t have to be the most vocal in the room to make a difference. At the start of my career, it was incredibly difficult to not take feedback and criticism personally. When you put time and effort into your work, you take a lot of pride in the final product, and when this final product is critiqued, it can be devastating. As my career progressed and I received more feedback frequently, I learned that my colleagues who were critiquing my work were ultimately helping me produce a better final product.
Also, being a woman in construction, by historical averages, places you as the only woman in the room. I think there is an idea among women in professional settings that in order to be heard or understood, you have to be the most vocal. I do not think this is always the case. Being prepared for meetings, expressing your opinions, and asking questions will make the difference. It can be one of your questions or opinion that sets the discussion in a different direction to reach a successful outcome.
What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the construction industry and how did you face them?
As a woman in the construction industry, this is the question that I am asked consistently at conferences and networking events. Sometimes questions like this are the challenge, and sometimes the challenge is being taken seriously. The best way I have learned to overcome these challenges is to find professional common ground with male colleagues and male peers, and to give them insight into my day-to-day struggles. This way, they can see that I handle challenges the same way that they do. After sharing my challenges and talking about my obstacles, most male peers and colleagues see me as an equal and not an outsider to the industry.
MARIA’S EDUCATION: Nichols College, Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice management & psychology
FUN FACT: I have never gone into Target and stuck to the list.