WIC Week Event: Wonderful Women Changing the LA Landscape

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Yesterday, it was my absolute pleasure to attend an event hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter of NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction), my first event of the week to celebrate “Women in Construction” Week, happening March 5th to 11th. The event took place on the top floor of City Hall’s Tom Bradley Tower, a destination worth the visit for the gorgeous Art Deco interior design and the panoramic views in every direction from an outside walkway. The views were as amazing as the panel discussion was inspirational. Some of the most influential women in the city discussed their views on issues related to their careers, work and gender challenges, life balance, and shared advice for success. I don’t think I could have heard a more motivating group of intelligent, passionate or successful women. And to know that they had an impact on the cityscape I was admiring made it that much more stimulating. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”957″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”958″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”959″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The discussion was skillfully moderated by Priscilla Chavez, who serves not only the president of NAWIC LA, but also as the manager of diversity and inclusion for PCL Construction Services, Inc. – and, so, is highly familiar with these issues herself. She asked interesting questions of each panel member, and I’ll recap some of my favorite answers..

When asked to identify what was their “superpower,” Heather Repenning, vice president for LA’s Board of Public Works claims that hers is stamina and her passion — that she is driven to keep at it. Monique Earl, assistant general manager for LA’s Department of Transportation admitted her low tolerance for “BS,” which isn’t always easy to do in a political environment, in which she tries her best to cut out all the “noise.” Kecia Washington, director of Economic Development for LA’s Department of Water and Power said hers is being able to be real with herself, and knowing what her own specialty is. She has learned to surround herself with others who are great at those things she knows she is not. Eileen Sanchez, director for Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Economic Development admits that she “walks tall and carries a big machete in her truck.” (I’m not positive she was joking.)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]In describing how she got into her chosen field, Rosa Brice, senior airport engineer for the LA Planning and Development Group for LAX, said she was first intrigued by the term “being in the field.” Once she learned that meant a job where she did not have to sit at a desk all day, she was hooked and found her way into engineering to become the first African American female engineer hired by the city. Kecia Washington described the pivotal moment for her was that only after graduating from law school did she realize that she didn’t want to defend the guilty nor prosecute the innocent — since she isn’t God, she can’t distinguish between the two. So, Kecia pursued a career in government instead.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”961″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A recurring pet topic mentioned by several participants was the importance of mentorship. Eileen Sanchez developed a program to empower young women and to enable them to “take over the world” at her own city office. In terms of sharing career strategies that they felt were winning, Monique Earl suggested that beyond networking, we should strive to “net-weave,” or to bring purpose and passion to what we do professionally. She also is a strong proponent of challenging others, no matter who they are. Speak up, and ask a lot of questions. Heather Repenning urges women to take credit for their work and to speak up at meetings. Eileen Sanchez recommends that we all learn to know when we should be a “jack of all trades” versus when we should delegate to others. She encourages women to be bolder and to take bigger risks, not to be shrinking violets, and reminds us all that “hope” is not a strategy; strategizing is critical. Julie Sauter, deputy city engineer in the city’s Bureau of Engineering, urges us all to be true to who we are and to what our own unique styles are – to never apologize for who we are.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”962″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Many of us at Giroux Glass find these words to be motivating and inspirational. Our own Stephanie Lamb, chief operating officer, knows first-hand that construction is not for the faint-hearted, whether it’s a man or a woman. She has witnessed a definite increase in interest with women in the construction industry. Her wish is that all young, up-and-coming women research this field as a potential career in order to understand how rewarding it is to create something amazing. Stephanie urges women to “put on a hard hat; it’s energizing!”

Wise words from all these wonderful women . . . . what a great way to celebrate this WIC Week! I eagerly anticipate our next thought-provoking NAWIC event. Kudos to the NAWIC LA team who made this event a success! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]