MN: In addition to your consulting company, we notice that you work with people in the construction field. Could you tell us about that?
LF: I work in the government, communication, community and public relations side of construction management. People in the construction world do not often realize just how much you must have good government and public relations. It is more than permits. Construction offers great opportunities and it can also be annoying. We tend to want the finished product immediately and it doesn’t happen that way. My role is to work with the various organizations and individuals who are engaged or touched by the construction work and figure out ways to listen to their concerns and if feasible help overcome them.
MN: What is a typical day like in this field?
LF: No two days are alike. I arrive at my office between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and depending on the demands of the day, I could be working until 8 or 9 at night. I might attend a community board meeting or a job fair; I might spend time with a reporter or I’m spending time designing and redesigning the components of a construction certificate/mentorship program. I might need to be part of a negotiation team on any activity that involves multiple parties. A vendor might approach me for assistance or I might be called to meet with an elected official. Each day brings with it huge opportunities disguised as challenges.
I am fortunate, between my work as an Associate Vice President, Instructor and through my company, I have the ability to impact significant numbers of people and that is very important to me.
MN: What in your opinion is the greatest challenge facing women who want to work in construction management?
LF: You need to really understand the construction industry. It is a tough industry and not everyone is cut out for that work. You must have solid financial and administrative systems. You need to have the required insurances and bonds. This is an expense that needs to be built into your business model. Construction work is expensive work and you have to be able to pay for your supplies, labor and float money until you receive payment for the work that you have already completed. You need to have solid systems that allow you to estimate the cost of work, the time it will take to complete the work, a financial cushion to see you through the jobs and you should have the best team possible because in the end your staff is an extension of you and they represent you at every work site. You are only as good as your last job. In the end, though, perhaps the greatest challenge might be how you see yourself. Winners attract winners. Even if you are having a super rough time, if you exude positivity then you will find doors opening for you.