Three industry experts presented their experiences within the concrete industry at this year's Women in Concrete Breakfast & Forum held during the World of Concrete 2010 (WOC). Each shared the road they traveled that brought them to an industry they love.
“One of the things I've learned is to pursue what you really like,” says Susan Lane, PE, manager of transportation structures for the Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Ill. “I was out of the industry for six years and now I'm back.” Lane, who started out as a consulting engineer, wore a number of other hats during her six-year hiatus, including working for Fannie Mae, but realized she missed the world of engineering and concrete bridges. Lane reminded the audience that doing something you love may require sacrifice and change, but to enjoy what you do is a gift.
Kathy Reissig also said that she took an unconventional road with many detours prior to her role as marketing manager for Stone Construction Equipment Inc., Honeoye, N.Y. From working in marketing, training, public relations, accounting, and trade shows, Reissig's career has been nothing but diverse. But when she entered the concrete construction industry, she committed herself to its every aspect.
To learn the industry, she quickly became involved in a number of organizations, eventually becoming a member of the WOC Exhibitor Advisory Board. “There's no better way to build up your respect and your reputation than by getting involved—and by doing that you'll build both your company and yourself,” she says.
Giving back is key, agreed Erin Williams Christie, environmental director, Ready Mix USA, Birmingham, Ala. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University's Concrete Industry Management program and an active alum, she works with current students to spread the passion for the industry. “To be able to share my experience as a student has been outstanding,” says Christie. “This is a great industry to be in.”
She went on to explain how the degree program benefited her. “I had no idea of the extent and reach of this industry, but the minute I got there, I felt that I had found my family and found a home.”
Christie also gave advice on earning the respect of older, male team members—she is the only female at her company in a field position. “When you enter the industry as a female and a student, it's more the experience over the education that you can show you know what you're talking about,” she says. What especially helped her was demonstrating a willingness to learn and listen to her fellow colleagues.
For five years, Concrete Construction and The Concrete Producer magazines have hosted the networking event at WOC to bring together like-minded women, offer a space to connect and learn from colleagues and industry experts, as well as grow in the concrete industry.
Also at the event, attendees were introduced to the Women in Concrete Alliance, a networking resource for women aimed to provide opportunities such as the annual WOC event throughout the year and online. Womeninconcrete.org offers a one-stop shop for women to connect through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Visit today to join the conversation.