How did you get started in the construction industry? How long have you been working in the industry?
I was artistic and organized growing up, which was an unusual combination. I began thinking of professions that where I could leverage those talents. Architecture seemed like a good choice. I was reminded that when I was 9 years old, I became enamored with the architectural design process. I spent hours designing different floor plans in a notebook. I remember the day when I realized that the upper floor needed to stack structurally above the lower floor. That was a light bulb moment! My first experience in the construction industry was a high school internship with an architecture firm in uptown Charlotte, where I grew up. That led to earning a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame, a series of summer internships, and finally a full-time position at a custom high-end residential architecture firm in Atlanta upon graduation. I have been working in the industry full time for almost 19 years.
What attracted you to the construction industry?
The ability to be use my creativity attracted me to the construction industry. An unexpected benefit was the collaborative nature of the industry. I love working as a team with all the talented professionals who participate to bring a construction project from idea to fruition.
What is your most memorable experience in the construction industry?
When I was working on historic renovations and additions, one of the contractors called to tell me that he found tree limbs used as part of the roof framing in a historic house. Renovations to historic properties always unearth surprises!
What was an experience that you benefitted the most from?
I have been very fortunate to have crossed paths with people whom I consider to be great mentors. From them, I learned the ins and outs of architectural design, how to manage client relationships, and most recently the workings of the homebuilding industry. The most satisfying part of my career is that I have the ability improve lives through my architectural designs. The homebuilding industry has provided me with a platform that allowed me to exponentially increase the number of people who benefit from my design work.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
It’s my favorite part: knowing that people live in these houses. It’s the background for their lives, for their children’s childhoods.
What’s a typical work day like?
A lot of what I do can’t happen in a day; it’s better to talk about a typical month. I might design a new floor plan from scratch, then when it’s being built, I’ll do a frame walk to [determine whether] it matches the floor plan or if we need to make changes. We build these houses more than once, so we’re always tweaking them. Some days, I check out current residential trends by visiting neighborhoods around Atlanta or looking at Instagram. I may go to the design center and pick out exterior color schemes. And there are days when I’m in a municipality where we’re building, going over design and building requirements. It’s not exciting, but it needs to be done.
What changes are you seeing in the industry as it relates to women? What changes do you hope to see?
I see the number of women achieving architecture degrees increasing. When I am in the field, I used to be the only women on the construction site. Now, I see women working with the trades more often than I ever have before. The workforce of great companies mirrors the customers that they serve. The construction industry serves all people so its workforce must reflect the general population to achieve the highest levels of success.
What is something you want other women in the construction industry to know?
There are a lot of wonderful people in the construction industry. If you work hard and are good at what you do, you will be taken seriously. This industry provides an excellent career opportunity.