This week, The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) celebrates Women in Construction Week (WIC). This week is not only dedicated to highlighting women in construction, but also raising awareness of the opportunities available to women in the industry and emphasizing their growing role in it.
Three women in the construction industry; Beth Jones, Shannon Weisiger and April Colaluca, talk about their careers, thoughts on the construction industry and advice they have for young female professionals.
Jones is the business development director, strategic accounts, at Atlas Copco Power Technique. She joined Atlas Copco nine years ago, working on a number of things from administrative duties, to signing on new OEM dealerships, dealer management, hands-on training to customers and more. Currently, Jones manages three of the top five rental accounts in the company and has increased sales by 200% throughout the years.
Her interest in the construction industry was always organic. The longer she is in the industry, the more interested she becomes and the more it drives her. Being a NAWIC member, she is a strong proponent to continually raise awareness to get more women involved in construction.
“I am proud to be an ambassador for future women in the industry. There are plenty of opportunities in construction,” Jones says.
And her advice to young professionals?
“Always keep pushing past the challenges as they come and never make excuses,” Jones says. “There may be setbacks and sometimes you need to take another route to get where you want to be. Sometimes, that means changing positions, sitting in the hot sun for eight hours and watching how a machine functions in order to better learn how to support your customer. You can make excuses for setbacks or you can push past it and be successful; you will never be able to do both. Know the only person who owes you success is you.”
Weisiger is the strategic account specialist at Atlas Copco Power Technique. After graduating with an industrial design degree from Virginia Tech, Weisiger found a job as a scale clerk at an aggregate quarry. On the job, she gained knowledge of quarry operations, equipment and the process industry.
Following her position with the aggregate company, Weisiger took a position in the retail industry at a large jewelry retail chain. It was there where she found a passion for sales. She was the store manager before going back to the construction industry as a sales manager.
Ultimately, she had the opportunity to move to South Carolina and found Atlas Copco. Starting off in inside sales, she mastered Atlas Copco’s business tools before taking the position as digitalization product specialist. Weisiger is now the strategic account specialist and uses all of these skills working on key accounts.
Weisiger is encouraging other women to explore construction as a field for a challenging and fulfilling career.
“It is so important to be confident, curious and not to be intimidated by the lack of women in the field,” she says. “The construction industry continues to grow, and it only makes sense that women should be fulfilling these positions, too. It is a great industry to be involved in.”
With hard work and passion for her job, Weisiger is happy to be at Atlas Copco.
“I am thankful to be a part of Atlas Copco that has set up goals to increase the share of women in the workplace,” says Weisiger. “We believe passionate people create exceptional things.”
She offers this advice to young professionals:
“Never stop learning,” Weisiger says. “Learn everything you can from the people and resources around you. When I go into meetings, I may be the only female in a room full of men. To achieve success, I believe in myself and always keep a positive attitude. I do not let it distract me from the task at hand. Hard work pays off, especially when you make your voice heard.”
Colaluca, is the marketing communications and trade show coordinator, customer service manager at APT and Chicago Pneumatic Power TechniqueHer first job out of college was in Seattle, Washington, as a marketing administrator. She held the position for nearly four years before ultimately deciding to move back home to California. She applied for a marketing communications position at APT.
“With construction, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I was intrigued,” Colaluca says. “Walking into the interview I didn’t feel completely out of my depth because I’ve worked with tools before.”
APT featured a full manufacturing process. She was amazed at the process of starting with the highest quality of steel and making it into a working tool all in one day.
“I was and remain to this day so intrigued by the manufacturing process,” she says. “These tools would go on to create the roads we drive on, the houses we live in and the offices we work at.”
Colaluca loves to see the look of pure surprise on peoples’ faces when they ask her what she does.
“That really lets me know I am in the right place,” she says. “Construction is so diverse. It gives great opportunity for women to show their potential in what is mainly a male-dominated field. We are showing gender is not a factor. Good, experienced people are what the field needs.”
She offers this advice to young people considering a career in construction:
“Don’t get discouraged,” Colaluca says. “You may have to work harder to show your knowledge and gain a customer’s trust, but it will happen. In the end, you have created a lasting relationship and a very loyal customer.”
For more information on Women in Construction Week, visit https://www.nawic.org/nawic/wicweek.asp.