Women in Construction Week celebrates the growing role of women in the construction industry and raises awareness of the opportunities available for women in construction. Several women construction leaders in the Chicago area recently weighed in on their experience in the industry.
For today, we’re highlighting Angel Douglas Stiemert, business operations manager with the Great Lakes office of Ryan Companies.
How did you get into the construction industry?
Douglas Stiemert: When I had my children, I needed to find a job closer to home so that I could be with them more often, so I worked as an office manager at a nearby concrete products company and that is when I fell in love with the construction process. I also co-led a Cub Scouts troop with a woman who worked at Ryan Companies, and she always talked about how much she loved the company. She told me about a job opening, and I applied. Since then, I have been growing my career within Ryan and loving every minute.
Describe a typical day on the job.
Douglas Stiemert: On any given day I could be meeting with my direct team or the senior leadership team regarding some initiatives, or I could be attending a high school career fair. I’m blessed to have a role where I can fill needs as I see them along with long-term planning regarding what we want our work environment to look and feel like. I am never, ever bored!
What have been some of the biggest obstacles (if any)?
Douglas Stiemert: People are my highest priority. Sometimes it’s impossible to please everyone, but I try to remember that our people want to be here, want to feel included, and also feel like they’re seen as individuals.
What was your favorite construction project and why?
Douglas Stiemert: My first big construction project at Ryan was a senior living project in Maple Grove, Minnesota. It was a complicated project full of new people, and lots of opportunity to grow. To this day, it remains exciting to drive by it.
What do you like most about your job?
Douglas Stiemert: The company is fantastic, the culture feels friendly and welcoming, and our projects are interesting and profitable. But the thing I like the most about my job is that it’s forever changing. I’m presented with new challenges every week, sometimes every day, and it’s a joy to try to solve problems, or to help in whatever way I can. Being a valued resource is a good feeling.
How has the participation of women in construction changed over the years and where do you see it heading?
Douglas Stiemert: I long for a day when we don’t have to have a WIC week. Knowledge and participation are shining a light on these disparities, and I do feel like the work that we’re doing is making a difference. I’ve had great mentors who have modeled diverse hiring practices for me, so when I became a hiring manager, I had a pretty good start. My work with NAWIC and Junior Achievement are prongs to my approach to help solve some of the diversity disparity in our industry.
What is your advice to women wanting to get into construction?
Douglas Stiemert: Put your name in for any opportunity that seems interesting. Believe that your knowledge, your drive, your passion for the industry, are going to make you a stellar candidate. Don’t be afraid to ask to join a meeting. And I encourage women to remember that they need to be an advocate for others as well; sometimes you have to be the mentor or the example that you could have used.