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March 6, 2020
Lean Construction, About Pepper

At Pepper, our women have been instrumental in creating progress in our industry, particularly when it comes to solutions involving a high level of collaboration. As we consider the evolution of different programs, new innovations and significant projects, women have played an important role.

For some, the career path has been easier than others, but all have felt respected. Advancements in construction have opened new doors of opportunity for women to join the industry and serve in leadership positions. Perhaps because they have chosen a career where they are in the minority, women at Pepper tend to be passionate about collaboration and diversity, and they are quick to recognize the efforts of others. It has also made them strong advocates for Lean Construction.

As we celebrate our women this week, we thought it appropriate to highlight the women who are forging relationships across the AEC industry and playing a lead role in facilitating Lean Construction at Pepper. The following individuals are helping to lead the way, and they are just a representation of our team. They offer their advice for others looking for ways to improve how we work.


Heather Siemers, Director of Operations Improvement

Whether female or not, you can have an impact if you're willing to listen and work with people. There is no one person who is an expert on everything we do; we need input from the people actually doing the work on a daily basis.

Heather Siemers
Director of Operational Improvement

Heather Siemers is passionate about collaboration. She was the first to fill a dedicated role leading the company's quality program and was instrumental in shaping what it is today. She has been involved in the Central Indiana CoP, even before serving in her current role. Believing there's always room for improvement, Heather now works to streamline internal and project operations. Her job is to facilitate collaboration, and she would tell you it has been key to her success. Where does Heather see room for improvement?

"We're seeing new people join our LCI chapter from design, construction and the trades but not from the owner's side. I would like to see more owners contributing ideas and engaged locally.”


Karen Newhouse, Senior Project Manager

Collaboration is huge, and it supports the reason lean stuck with me: it's about eliminating waste. For example, with the Last Planner, it allows every trade to contribute to the whole instead of following a schedule that has been dictated - and doesn't work. And that's where the magic is.

Karen Newhouse
Senior Project Manager

Karen Newhouse's first project was a $495 million mill, and thereafter, she continued to be entrusted with large and challenging projects. It's what took her to the west coast where she was introduced to Lean on a hospital campus project and fell in love with the idea of eliminating waste. Karen came to Pepper because she liked the idea of working with like-minded people and helping to grow the company. From her perspective working through obstacles and achieving success, she still sees room for improvement:

"There is a misnomer about what collaboration means. It doesn't equal 100% buy-in, where decisions stall. Everyone has a say and provides input. Then, once everyone is heard, someone still makes a decision and moves forward. I think our industry still needs to learn the right way of collaborating effectively.”


 Angela Wisker, Project Director

It really helps when the owner is a collaborative partner. I also found the trades were more willing to participate when they understood the benefit of the collaborative planning process - and the potential impact from not participating.

Angela Wisker
Project Director

Angela was asked by an owner on a past project to accelerate the schedule and move up the move-in date after the project had started - and to use Lean Construction to do it. She dove in and quickly became a student of the process. When the project finished with great success, Angela became a strong ambassador of lean and is highly regarded by her peers, particularly when it comes to gaining buy-in from reluctant trades. 

These women and others are actively engaged in furthering Lean in our communities, whether helping to form a local Lean Construction Institute (LCI) Community of Practice (CoP), educating high school students on careers in construction or partnering with other women in the industry on community-based studies. If you'd like to hear more about how these and other women found a career in construction, check out our LinkedIn and Facebook pages to read their stories.