Women in Construction Week. Meet the Women Leaders of VinZero U.S. CAD

WICW blog post (2)

Women in Construction Week, started in 1960 by the National Association of Women in Construction, is a week-long industry event dedicated to recognizing the invaluable contributions of women in construction, as well as generating awareness and better working space for women who desire to work in the industry. This week, we are shining the spotlight on women leaders across all sectors at VinZero U.S. CAD, from project managers to senior technical specialists to marketing, and what advice they have for women looking to build a career in construction.

Andrell Laniewicz, CM-BIM, M.Arch., Senior Technical Specialist

My advice for women wanting to enter the construction industry is to have a buddy system. Go to trade school with a partner and open up your own business together!

-Andrell Laniewicz, Senior Technical Specialist

Andrell Laniewicz is a Senior Technical Specialist for US CAD. After obtaining her Master’s in Architecture from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as a VDC Engineer for general contractors for over 5 years. As a VDC Engineer, she worked on 3D coordination, Field Operations, 4D animations, and 5D cost models. Then she went to work on the MEP side becoming a Tier 3 Support Specialist that worked directly with Autodesk to resolve issues, develop workflows, and implement various strategies for improved project delivery. She possesses extensive knowledge and skills of construction solutions such as Autodesk® BIM 360®, Revit®, and Navisworks®, and MSUITE® FABPro™ and BIMPro™, productivity and status tracking solutions. For U.S., CAD, Andrell provides implementation, training, mentoring, technical content and support to customers. Andrell is an Autodesk Certified Instructor and Autodesk Certified Professional.

What is the biggest obstacle for women trying enter or build their careers in the construction industry

The biggest obstacle is acceptance. So many women are made to feel unwelcome, from NSFW material left in jobsites to flat out being ignored when they are too attractive. Jobsites can be close-knit and having support instead of being assumed to be lost can be a real game changer.

What advice/tips do you have for women in the construction industry or looking to enter the construction industry?

I think the best way to overcome this is to have a buddy system: go to trade school with a partner and open your own business together! As a business, terms can be part of your contract – including job site conditions. 

Nikki Divers, Senior Project Manager

Working in the field provides a tremendous amount of knowledge, which can transfer to other areas in the construction industry. The opportunities are endless for what the construction industry has to offer! 

Nikki Divers, Senior Project Manager

Nikki Divers came to VinZero U.S. CAD with a diverse background. Her introduction to technology came while working in the ski industry, where she was a Service Manager for snowmaking equipment manufacture. In 2009 she left the ski industry to expand her knowledge in the electrical field. Ms. Divers pursued her electrical license while working full-time as an electrician. During her time as an electrician field, Ms. Divers managed a crew that laid out job sites with robotic total stations and a leading member of a Virtual Design for Construction team. At VinZero U.S. CAD, Ms. Divers started as a project manager overseeing BIM coordination projects and training subcontractors on how to use robotic total stations to take BIM to the next level in the field. Recently, Ms. Divers was promoted to lead VinZero U.S. CAD’s Project Management team.

What is the biggest obstacle for women trying enter and build their careers in the construction industry?

The biggest obstacle for women trying to enter the construction industry is the general lack of exposure to this being a career path. This is in part due to a lack of representation. Construction is not a line of work that women naturally migrate since they don’t see a lot of other women in this line of work. The biggest obstacle for women trying to build their careers in the construction industry is gender bias within the work culture. Since women are typically underrepresented, they often don’t receive the same opportunity as men to grow their careers. 

What advice/tips do you have for women in the construction industry or looking to enter the construction industry?

Working in the field provides a tremendous amount of knowledge, which can transfer to other areas in the construction industry. The best advice I have for women who are in or looking to enter the construction industry is to think outside the box with the direction they can take in their careers. A few examples of career growth within the construction industry are 3D drafting for virtual design, project management, augmented or virtual reality construction technology, or service technicians for emerging technologies such as wind and solar. The opportunities are endless for what the construction industry has to offer! 

Marie Racewicz, Director of Marketing and Customer Success

There has never been a better time for women to enter the construction industry, thanks to the increased emphasis on gender equality and inclusion, as well as the positive effects diversity has in the workplace.

Marie Racewicz, Director of Marketing and Customer Success

Marie Racewicz is Director of Marketing and Customer Success at VinZero U.S. CAD, where she leads both the marketing and customer success teams. Marie is a talented marketing executive recognized for the ability to design and deploy innovative marketing strategies to effectively drive business development initiatives and substantially increase company revenue. She joined VinZero U.S. CAD four years ago after previously serving as a senior marketing manager at Kronos, another technology firm.

What are the biggest obstacles for women looking to enter into or build their careers in the construction industry?

The lack of other females in the field. Female leaders and coworkers can be meaningful advocates and sources of support for one another in the workplace. Working in marketing, where women make up 60% of the workforce, has been an incredible experience for me because I have been fortunate to have many female leaders and peers who have provided mentoring and helped me achieve success. However, when compared to other professions, the proportion of women working in construction is quite low, at only 11%. As a result, some women – new or tenured – entering the field may feel isolated because they are the only female at their firm or job site, and they may lack access to female mentoring and encouragement, both of which can help shape their experiences and career progression.

What advice/tips do you have for women trying to enter the construction industry?

There has never been a better time for women to enter the construction industry, thanks to the increased emphasis on gender equality and inclusion, as well as the positive effects diversity has in the workplace. The future can be very bright for women drawn to construction, possessing drive, curiosity, and a solid and growing skill set. However, my advice to the next generation of female construction workers is to seek mentors who will guide and support them in their careers while also highlighting their achievements. Female construction leaders do not need to be the only mentors for women early in their careers; men, too, can serve as champions of women, which so often they do.

Sunny Watts, Senior Technical Specialist

Have confidence in your skills, your knowledge, and your ability to figure it out. Because you are so much more capable and more desperately needed than you know.

Sunny Watts, Senior Technical Specialist

Sunny Watts is a Senior Technical Specialist at VinZero U.S. CAD. Sunny found a passion for design in high school while learning about Interior Design and Web Building and discovered Computer Aided Drafting while pursuing her degree in Interior Design at LDS Business College. After Graduation she continued to pursue her education in drafting and design, leading her to BIM and a career using Revit for electrical engineering. After a short break to teach English in Taiwan, Miss Watts joined a team to develop virtual design methods for electrical construction, discovering different ways to leverage building information from construction models. At VinZero U.S. CAD, she supports the production of design models, construction prefabrication planning, and spatial coordination for various trades. She specializes in Autodesk® Revit®, BIM 360®, and PlanGrid® and conducts high-level and in-depth training sessions for clients. Sunny is an Autodesk Certified Professional, Autodesk Certified Instructor, Bluebeam® Certified Consultant, and a Bluebeam Certified Instructor.

What are the biggest obstacles for women trying to enter or build their careers in the construction industry?

Our biggest challenges still tend to be cultural. We don’t often see women as being in construction, in fact when we think of the construction industry, we tend to think of the characteristics typical to men… and so that is still the most prolific attitude toward and within in the construction industry.

I have found however is that there is a broad spectrum of experience and skill needed for construction projects to be successful, (especially within the realm of technology), and there is a great need for the organization, understanding, additional points of view, and possible solutions that women bring to the table.

What advice/tips do you have for women in the construction industry or looking to enter the construction industry?

There are going to be moments when you second guess yourself, and honestly questioning if you are giving your best can be a good thing, and keep you working to improve.

But I’m the mist of that, please have confidence in your skills, your knowledge, and your ability to figure it out. Because you are so much more capable and more desperately needed than you know.

Want to work with these and other amazing construction industry experts? Schedule a complimentary Discover Meeting here.

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