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Pepper values a diverse workforce. Celebrating Women in Construction week gives us an opportunity to recognize some of the many differences that make our teams stronger. Looking at the statistics, 9.1 percent of the construction industry is comprised of women. At Pepper, that number jumps to 30 percent. We're confident it contributes significantly to our ongoing success both in the office and in the field.

Some of our teammates recently sat down to share their perspectives as women who are building careers in construction. We appreciate their insights, both personal and professional, and thank them for their continued dedication. Here are some of their thoughts:

Neely Sadowski, Preconstruction Project Executive

What interested you most about the construction industry?

The construction industry is an amazing showcase of magnificent talent, endless ideas formed through out of the box thinking and pure blood, sweat and tears.  I am in awe every single day, not only of the beautiful buildings being created, but also of the tremendous teamwork that is behind the façade.   

How has being a woman in the industry changed since you started?  Do you feel there are more opportunities or less?

I will say that the construction industry has made tremendous strides since I started my career 17 years ago.  When I first started it was very much an old school “boy's club” mentality.  I felt as though I always had to go that extra 5+ miles to prove that I could do the job just as good or even better than my male counterparts. Although this mentality may still exist with some, the industry as a whole has become more about how well you do your job and not about whether you are male or female.  

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Be confident in who you are and what you are capable of.  Do not let yourself go unheard.  Being confident and having a voice is instrumental in building your credibility.  Also, be an advocate and a sounding board for other women within the industry.  We need to build each other up, celebrate our wins and share our stories to empower one another.  Lastly, work hard, take pride in what you do and always remember why you started. 

Miranda Brunner, Project Manager II

How did you get started in your field? Was there someone or something that led you to this path?

Growing up my Dad remodeled and built new homes as a side job and also owned a business for about 10 years. He got me interested in the field of architecture and construction. I spent multiple weekends and evenings “helping” and learning from him. His hard work inspired me to go to Architecture school.

What is your favorite part of your career?

I really enjoy the variety of projects I work on. It’s always changing. In preconstruction specifically, I really enjoy the fact that I get to touch so many project types. One day we’re looking at a school the next day it could be a Zoo. There’s always variety and not just one solution. I also feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds between architecture and engineering. It’s rewarding to see the transformation from paper to a completed building.

What's it like working in a male-dominated industry?  What are the challenges and rewards?

The biggest challenge is that males and females think and are emotionally different. Differences in opinions are always challenging. But I also think the differences are very rewarding. It gives you an entirely different perspective on a project and management style. There’s a lot to learn from that.

Renee Prinner, Project Manager

What interested you most about the construction industry?

After college, I started my career as an executive assistant for a construction company. I've worked my way through many different roles from corporate services to preconstruction. Now I'm concentrating on project management with Pepper's Interiors group. The projects are quick so the work is always changing. I can honestly say that every aspect of my work over the years has been interesting and having a broad perspective on multiple aspects of the construction industry has definitely been beneficial.

What is your favorite part of your career?

I have enjoyed the opportunity to build relationships while working with all the different people needed to have a project come together. Every day, you are able to see the product of your hard work as it progresses. And once it's complete, it's something you'll be able to point to for years to come and say, "I built that." 

What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?

In the first 10 years of my career, I worked with maybe two female project managers. While I don’t feel that I was ever held back from opportunities, I still occasionally come across people who make assumptions about my knowledge or experience. Sometimes it's even rewarding to be the only woman in the room. I also have to say that throughout my career path I've had great opportunities to learn from some amazing men as managers, superintendents and trade partners.   

Angela Wisker, Project Director

What interested you most about the construction industry?

Construction is obviously a very "hands on" industry and I love the fact that I'm not stuck behind a computer all day. We thrive on not only building structures but also building relationships and it takes a certain type of person to be able to resolve issues with a client, architect or trade partner out in the field. At the end of each day, we get to see progress in many forms.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

My advice is to embrace every project – big or small – and every team as a learning experience.  The best experiences are when you miss those people after the project is done. Also, learn management techniques from everyone you work with and take bits and pieces to develop your own management style. Remember that what works for one person, may not work for you. Finally, don’t get trapped in a niche too early in your career. Be adaptable to any situation and always want to do more!

Lisa Koeune, Project Executive

How did you get started in your field? Was there someone or something that led you to this path?

I was always into designing things, was good at math and science, but also loved art.  That led me to study engineering in college. I'm also a natural "people person," and construction is a people business. I've also never been intimidated by the field. My school had a male-to-female ratio of 7:1, so I've always been one of the guys and feel right at home. And, honestly, in my opinion the industry doesn't feel male dominated anymore.

What is your favorite part of your career?

As I mentioned, I enjoy dealing with people – some days more than others – but in general that's a plus for me. I also find that it’s always busy and the work is always challenging, so I'm never bored. Perhaps most importantly, it's an extremely rewarding career.