Professional Women in Building Week

Professional Women in Building Week
  • Written on September 13, 2021 By Stanley Martin

NAHB Professional Women in Building Week celebrates the contributions of women to the homebuilding industry. Stanley Martin is fortunate to have great women on our team including Director of Market and Consumer Research, Ashley Hoyt, Architectural Project Manager, Michelle Edwards, and Regional Director of Sales, Susan Steck. We spoke with Ashley, Michelle and Susan about their experiences in the homebuilding industry and what they hope to see in the future.

How did you get started in the construction industry? How long have you been working in the industry?

AH: I interned for a large general contracting firm while in college and for a homebuilder in graduate school.

ME: I have wanted to be in the architecture career field for as long as I can remember. I ended up taking high school courses for engineering then going to college and obtaining a degree in architectural engineering. Once graduating college, I was directed by a couple of former teachers and classmates to companies that were hiring. I was hired straight out of college in the fall of 2014 as an architectural associate. I have been working and learning in this industry ever since.

SS: 1991 How long have you been working in the industry? 30 years

What attracted you to the construction industry?

AH: I come from a family of builders. The love of building is in my blood.

ME: I was intrigued by the entire process of creating a functional building from just a plot of land. I love architectural design

SS: I was referred to this industry from my old boss in another industry. I really didn’t know that it would be a forever career for me, but I really enjoyed helping the people that I met, and the rest was history.

What is your most memorable experience in the construction industry?

AH: I was interning for a homebuilder and sat in on a land acquisition class as part of my training. We learned about land acquisition and site selection, and I remember thinking “This is it! This is what I what I want to do with my career!” I went to my manager who spoke to the head of Land and I was immediately reassigned to the Land team.

ME: My most memorable experience in this industry was the first day I went to the field to see the buildings I draw on a day-to-day, in person. It was a beautiful learning experience and very rewarding.

SS: I would say 2008 when the building industry was in such trouble and failing. I was lucky to be a part of a team, that was still #3 in the nation during that difficult time. It was really hard to do the reduction in forces and we were all wearing different hats each day. But the teamwork that came out of that tough year was priceless to the team and created a bond that would last for all of us.

What was an experience that you benefited the most from?

AH: The housing market crash of the early 2000’s. It was a wild time in the market. I was in market research, and I remember seeing the numbers take a big turn just before the crash started making headlines. I was very early into my career and worried about the potential of being unemployed. I decided to leave residential housing and took a job in commercial construction. I was managing hospital construction from a field-trailer in Washington, D.C. I learned a lot about building, project management, resiliency, and flexibility. It was tough, but it was incredibly rewarding. When I returned to homebuilding a few years later, I felt like I had a fresh outlook and new experience to bring to my work.

ME: An experience that I’ve benefited the most from would be training new employees! Everyone that I’ve help train has brought new questions, ideas, and outlooks on a career that I thought I had complete knowledge of. It’s very humbling yet fulfilling to know that I can learn a little something from everyone. I take this lesson with me throughout every aspect of my life, not just my career.

SS: I would say taking on a master planned community with retail and homes being built on an old Air Force Base. I learned a lot about commercial space and how that works with the homebuilding aspect of it. As well as the EPA and making sure that all the areas were clear of Bombs and ammunition. It was a very lengthy process, but I learned about all aspects of the land, planning something of this size in nature as well as selling off parcels to other builders. It was a challenging project but I learned the most from it.

What changes are you seeing in the industry as it relates to women? What changes do you hope to see?

AH: There are far more women in the industry than there used to be, and that is a great step forward! I see more companies recruiting women and highlighting their female leadership. I hope that continues.

ME: I’ve seen more women hired and working my personal workplace since the day I started 7 years ago. I also see women making leaps in career changes to be more involved in the actual construction, or field work, of a home, which in the past, has been stereotypically a “male role”. I’d like to continue to see more inclusion for women. I appreciate how my team has considered my experiences and outlooks on situations that a female’s opinion wouldn’t have typically been significant in the past.

SS: I see that it is more common to see a woman in this industry in all capacities. From division presidents to construction managers. It for a long time was a boys club type of industry when I started, and it is exciting to see the changes and women being included in the building industry. I would like to see the continued growth of the amount of woman in the different roles throughout this industry. There are many talented individuals focusing on homebuilding in roles such as purchasing/estimating, Division Presidents, Field Operations Managers and even Regional President roles makes me excited to think of since it was a small percentage when I started. To see that type of growth is going to be exciting!

What is something you want other women in the construction industry to know?

AH: Construction is still a male-dominated field, but that shouldn’t intimidate women. There are a lot of great opportunities out there! Most women in leadership positions had someone advocate for them along the way, and most are willing to do the same for someone else coming up the ranks. Reach out to another female in a leadership position or network in local chapters or online- a lot of women want more women to join the field and are happy to help.

ME: I’d like other woman in the construction industry to know there’s always room in this career path/industry to grow. There are so many opportunities in this industry to learn and make a career out of something you would have never thought you’d enjoy!

SS: This is a business that creates the excitement in you which develops into a passion from the start! It changes daily and keeps you challenged and engaged each and every day! At the end of the day, month, quarter and year to see the progress in the individual divisions is just a thrill. We help so many people and have great team culture that makes it literally enjoyable to come to work each day and truly excited to be a part of it. If you are looking for a challenging job with many aspects to learn from and grow then this is the business for you!

Read more about NAHB Professional Women in Building Week here.