Women in Construction [Technology]: Meet the Women of Riskcast
Welcome to the final installment of the Riskcast #WomenInConstruction Week Blog Series! We simply couldn’t close out the week without acknowledging two of our own teammates who are regular contributors to our product, our clients, and our industry. If you are already working with us, you’ve undoubtedly already crossed paths with Chantel Columna, our Customer Success Lead, and Jennifer Brown, our Solutions Specialist. If not, let this be a formal invitation to get to know us, if for no other reason than because these two construction pros are worth knowing!
Of all the things that stood out in these two interviews, one of the most striking was the history both women have with the industry. Jennifer started out talking about growing up in the industry and going to work with her dad, a bridge builder. She said, “As we were old enough, aka out of diapers, we went to work with him on Saturdays.”
For Chantel, her love of the industry grew from life in New York City: “I grew up in the Dominican Republic until I was a teenager. When I moved to NYC, I was suddenly walking past these large-scale projects daily, and it piqued my interest. I went to college and studied architecture and then engineering. After I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from RPI, I took my first industry internship with Skanska in New York City. There we often had field trips to job sites and I started to get more exposure to the people and the cool things that we get to do in this field.”
Construction is an industry that often inspires love and loyalty from those within it. When asked about their favorite part of the job both women talked about the construction community and the ability of this particular group of people to solve problems together. We wanted to know how their early experiences – particularly as women in the industry – may have shaped their perspective of that community and how they fit into it.
Jennifer said, “I started working summers at my dad's bridge building company when I was 16. I learned really quickly that a lot of people would underestimate me and look at me like a little girl. But I also learned that the best way to counter that is to do your job and do it well.”
As for advice she’d give her younger self and other women coming up in the industry? “Be aware of the challenges that working in a male-dominated industry presents, but don't let them be excuses. Don't be afraid to ask for the promotion or the compensation you deserve.”
Chantel reflected on finding her voice:
“Being the only one that is like you in a large group can often feel intimidating. You have to find your voice and know how to be assertive. I think we all bring a different perspective to the table, so it is important to understand that you can add value to any team by speaking up and sharing your ideas.”
She also said she’d advise her younger self “don’t sweat the small stuff!” She said, “Making mistakes is part of your own development, and the best we can do is learn and grow from them. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. People in this industry love to share their knowledge.”
Finally, we made sure to ask about the intersection of construction and tech – where do they think the market is headed, and why they like the space:
Both talked about the general misconception that the construction industry is one of the last industries to be modernized because people are set in their own ways or reluctant to change. Chantel said, “In reality, change is the only constant in construction. When there are tools introduced into the field that allow people to get their job done better, faster, and safer - or when communication is made easier and people are not stuck in processes and compliance tasks - when all they are trying to do is build something - I think you will find people jumping on board with the solutions. Successful construction tech companies do the same thing that the best construction firms do: address complex challenges in a collaborative way, and implement creative solutions that get the job done as efficiently as possible.”
Jennifer and Chantel are both great examples of women in construction that are pushing the envelope and raising the bar when it comes to modernity, inclusion, and collaboration in the industry. We are so proud to celebrate them this week for Women in Construction Week - and EVERY WEEK - and we are grateful for their constant contributions to the Riskcast family and our extended community.