By: Ginger Bennett – Project Controls | Senior Scheduler
If I knew then what I know now, I might have become a plumber. Not because I enjoy dealing with sludge, but rather because I enjoy the challenge of doing things others don’t (or won’t – or can’t) do. So, what’s wrong with me? Certainly, something must be wrong with a woman who chooses to work in Construction, right? A lot of women have said to me, “Oh, I could never do what you do. I would find that job so intimidating!” Honestly, fear has never been part of my equation.
“Courage, Sacrifice, Determination, Commitment, Toughness, Heart, Talent, Guts.– Bethany Hamilton
That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.”
I didn’t graduate high school thinking I wanted to work in Construction. My mother had suggested that because I was smart, I would do well to work in a male-dominated field. I chose Computer Science with an emphasis in Electronic Data Processing in college. There were fifty men to every one female in the program at the time. I learned a lot about systems implementation, software logic, process development and business statistics – but more importantly, I learned the value of stepping outside my comfort zone.
On the other side of challenge lies opportunity. When I first went out into the working world, Construction Management was certainly never on my radar in terms of career paths. My first “real” job out of college was as a Project Assistant for a very large airplane manufacturer. I was initially referred to as the “token female” in the department. That just lit a fire in me to do better – BE better – than my male colleagues, most of whom had military backgrounds with very defined views of roles and responsibilities. I did the mundane things they didn’t want to do. I showed up every day with a smile on my face, an eagerness to help (and thereby learn through osmosis), and probably most importantly, I learned to surround myself with people who were smarter than me.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road. Somewhat by accident, I was introduced to the world of Construction Management when I was in my 30s, coming out of a divorce with 3 children and trying to figure out my path forward. After being a stay-at-home mother for a number of years, I wasn’t sure I had any skills that could be of value in the workplace. I responded to a newspaper advertisement looking for temporary help. The company was a Construction Management firm, whose owner had a heart for mentoring. He purposely hired people who were hungry to learn – and to mentor others. After a few months of supporting different projects in the main office, I was placed on a $2.5B airport expansion project alongside some of the smartest, most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I learned all about Scheduling methodologies, Project Controls, and the importance of teamwork. I also learned that successful people build each other up. They motivate, inspire and push each other. Everything I do in my career today, began there.
Over the years, beyond the technical and “soft” skills, I learned a few more things that don’t really fall into a “skills” category – but have made all the difference. You won’t necessarily find these listed on my resume, but they are engraved behind the text.
Just do it. We all have our own natural strengths and weaknesses. It has been my observation that people are naturally good at doing what they love to do, and not so good at doing things they don’t enjoy. We will find every excuse to procrastinate on a task that we hate doing. So, what’s the primary difference between those who succeed and those who don’t? The difference lies in those who do it…and do it…and do it again…until it gets done.
I would like my car to fly and make me breakfast, but that’s an unrealistic expectation. We oftentimes compare ourselves with those around us – and when we do, we usually find ourselves lacking. Why do we do that to ourselves? No one person is great at everything they do. Everyone makes mistakes. Focus on progress, not perfection. You can’t be perfect at everything you do. But you can gain progress on a daily basis. Learn a new skill or hone an old one. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you understand. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them. It will change your life.
If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. To have integrity means holding yourself to a high standard of doing the things you say regardless of circumstance or feeling. Having integrity at work means you:
- Are reliable and dependable
- Are trustworthy, especially with classified information and high-risk tasks
- Practice and encourage open communication with your coworkers and managers
- Are respectful, honest, and patient with others
- Have a strong work ethic and strive to produce high-quality work consistently
- Take responsibility for your actions, especially when you make a mistake
- Make sound decisions, even under high-stress situations
- Are equipped to provide high-quality service
Trust yourself. If you don’t trust you, why should anyone else?