In honor of Women in Construction Week, running from March 5 to March 11 this year, REjournals is highlighting the careers of some of the many women making a difference in the construction industry throughout the Midwest.
Here, then, is a look at the career of Cassandra Wall, project director at the Overland, Missouri, office of Clayco. Wall has worked at Clayco since May of 2011, when she started at the company as a senior project engineer. Before her time at Clayco, Wall worked as a field engineer at Sundt Construction for four years.
We spoke with Wall about what led her to the construction industry, what she enjoys about this field and the challenges she’s faced working in an industry that is still largely dominated by men. Here is some of what she had to say.
How did you get into the construction industry?
I wanted to be an architect for as long as I could remember. However, in high school I had the opportunity to take some architectural drafting classes and was very bored. A teacher at that time was involved in DBIA and suggested I consider changing my career path to construction focusing on the Design-Build industry where I could still be a part of project development but not limited to design.
Can you describe a typical day on your job?
Every day is different, which is one of the things I like about this industry. I often go into work with a list of what I want to accomplish, but the needs of the job often pull my attention in a variety of directions that may or may not align with my original task list.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in this career?
My biggest obstacles have been overcoming my own self-doubt and quiet disposition. It took me a long time to realize that the others around me didn’t always know more than I did, that my perspective was welcomed and sometimes needed. It took years of experience and participation in groups like Toastmasters to get to a point where I felt comfortable being more vocal.
What was your favorite construction project and why?
The Southpointe II project outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the time, it was the tallest thin-brick inlaid tilt-up project our company had done. It was my first tilt-up, and I learned a lot and enjoyed working with the project team.
What do you like most about your job?
I like that at the end of each project there is something new that will have an impact on the people and environment around it. I like the cycles of construction and that it is not the same thing day in and day out. Each project is different, and I find the similarities and differences between each one fascinating.
How has the participation of women in construction changed over the years, and where do you see it heading?
The number of women has grown dramatically in my time in the industry. There was a time when I was the only woman in operations in our company. Now there are several women in nearly every position, and we continue to grow.
What is your advice to women wanting to get into construction?
There are so many different aspects to the industry from quality, safety, financial, etc. Be open to working in different groups and see where your interests lie. It may change as you grow.