This year, I was honored to be invited as a guest speaker to the 2016 Women in Construction West Coast Conference, held on Coronado Island, California, April 21-22nd. The organization’s goal for the event was to “Break Barriers and Build Foundations,” and they helped over 350 women who attended to do precisely that with a winning line-up of educational and inspirational presentations, panel discussions, speakers, and many networking opportunities. Fellow guest speaker Ronda Conger and I were asked to kick-off the event with our own separate speeches, and keynote speaker Mary O’Hara-Devereaux concluded the conference with strategies for women leaders.
After some thoughtful deliberating on what my topic would be, I knew I wanted to discuss the importance of taking on tough challenges, seeking mentorship and networking opportunities, as well as my own career and experiences. I decided to structure my speech around the saying, “Only YOU can Stop You!” for so many reasons, including some things I’ve learned in my life…
Don’t limit possibilities of future mentors.
They surround us all. We can be mentors to others and we find mentorship in others. Sometimes we learn the most from unexpected places. I’ve been blessed with supervisors who have been great mentors, and I have been mentored by those I have supervised as well as by my peers.
We have the incredible opportunity to learn from others, to meet or be introduced to someone who will greatly impact the direction of our future. Don’t wait to focus on networking; get out there now. Learn from others; collaborate and grow together. You have something that will benefit someone else. It’s a win win.
Don’t let fear stop you.
Take on challenges and solutions will be found. Stay determined and seek possibilities. Only you can stop you!
Remember pivotal moments in your career.
I remember when I was recruited to be a controller of a mid-size general construction company when I was 25 years old. The owner took me into the office of Don, the executive vice president, to introduce to me. The first thing he did was look at me from head to toe, and while talking to the owner, he yelled three inches from my face, “Is this a joke? why did you hire this kid who’s going to leave early on Fridays and call in sick on Mondays!” At that moment I had to dig my fingernails into the palms of my hands to stop myself from crying.
Memories of the shy girl I used to be flooded my mind. Suddenly, the voices of those who believed and supported me came to mind. Those were the voices I chose to listen to. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to handle my new role, but I turned to Don and said, “I guarantee that I will do whatever it takes to do a great job!”
After years of hard work, Don told me that I did do a great job. I’ve had many “Don’s” in my career, and each time, I convinced myself that I would persevere. I love to encourage others to not let the “Don’s” in their lives stop them. I say, “Go for it and be amazed by what you can accomplish.”
Special thanks to my loving and supportive Giroux family and biological family for joining me at the conference.