This year, Women in Construction Week is recognized March 3 through the 9. This annual event, which is a campaign by The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), highlights women as a visible component of the construction industry. This week of recognition is also time for the industry to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and emphasizes the growing role of women in the industry.
So with Women in Construction week next week, we wanted to take time to recognize and highlight Skanska assistant PE, Rochelle Riggs.
Why did you join the construction industry?
I joined Skanska and the construction industry 23 years ago as a temporary field admin, filling in for someone who went on maternity leave. When that person decided not to come back, I knew I’d found a home with infinite opportunities for growth - one in which I could take pride in the company, the relationships that were established, and the product we produced.
What have you worked on that you are most proud of?
Over the course of my time with Skanska, I’ve had the great fortune to participate in many aspects of the company – in many areas of the country (Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix). I spent a large portion of my time with Skanska working in the professional services groups – administration (office and field), safety, marketing, office management, event logistics, Aviation Centers of Excellence.
When the opportunity came up to transition to operations two years ago, I knew it would be challenging, but I felt I had enough industry knowledge to make the switch. The day-to-day responsibilities have proven to be both rewarding and challenging. I liken the transition to learning a new language – initially, I could recognize a word or phrase here and there, but I’ve had to learn to communicate and operate using a completely new language. I’ve had a lot of support throughout the transition and I’m looking forward to the continued growth.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
We are primarily a relationship-based industry in which our success is in large part driven by the strength of the connections we create with owners, industry partners, subcontractors and our own internal colleagues.
A mentor once told me if someone comes to you with an issue, suggestion, or just to speak their mind, stop what you are doing and listen –listen with the intention of understanding rather than simply to respond.
What is something unique you have learned or worked on since joining Skanska?
I have had the opportunity to work in several different climates. It’s interesting to me that while construction components and methods are the same across the country, climate plays a key role in how teams approach projects. In an area where rain is an everyday occurrence, construction has adapted. In a drier climate, weather events such as heavy rain can be debilitating to the progress of a project.
Would you recommend the construction industry to young women? If yes, why?
The construction industry is rapidly changing from a male-dominated industry to one of strong diversity and inclusion. I would wholeheartedly recommend the construction industry to young women contemplating their career paths. There are countless opportunities and avenues to pursue within the fast-paced, ever-changing industry. It’s an industry that welcomes individuals who hunger for new opportunities, who want to capitalize their strengths, and who have a passion for building great things.
Tell us about your experiences mentoring/being mentored throughout your career?
While I can’t single out one specific mentor who made all the difference in my career, I can point to a couple dozen individuals who always believed in me – even when I didn’t necessarily believe in myself. They were always there to encourage, influence and push me beyond my limits.