The cover poster for HoloBuilder's Celebrating Women In Construction Week 2021 article

Celebrating Women In Construction Week 2021

Mar 8, 2021 | Article, Construction, HoloBuilder

From March 7–13, 2021, this year’s Women in Construction week is all about highlighting women as an essential component of the construction industry. We want to challenge career stereotypes and promote how women lead the way in our industry.

The typical stereotype of a construction worker is probably still closely associated with a man in an excavator. Construction is more diverse than just having male builders, though. There are many different roles that contribute to the success of a construction project and women are an essential part of it. However, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018 not even 10% of all construction workers in the US were female.

Women in Construction (WIC) week was brought to life by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). Since 1955 NAWIC has been aiming to “strengthen and amplify the success of women in the construction industry” and WIC week is a big event each year. This special week is here to highlight all the hard-working women in the AEC industry, their important contributions, and to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the industry.

At HoloBuilder, we truly appreciate the women working in the construction industry and especially those who are forward-thinking and pushing the envelope by implementing technology in their daily processes. For this year’s WIC Week, we are highlighting some of those women to show how vital they are to the success of building the world we live in. Our goal is to inspire young women with the below stories, show that construction has more to offer than “digging in the dirt” and that it is truly innovative and diverse, and hopefully encourage more women to join the AEC industry. We have asked some of our female customers and partners as well as two of our very own women to share their inspiring stories about how they came into the industry and which role technology plays in their work lives. Special thanks to all the amazing women who shared these great insights!

Sina Schliestedt

BIM Specialist at GOLDBECK
Bielefeld, Germany

Why did you choose construction as a career?

When I decided to study industrial engineering, I was interested in construction in general. Seeing the progress of a project and the different processes and sub-contractors working together creating one building fascinated me.

Privately, I really like to solve problems. Therefore, I chose a career as a site manager, where I could use this skill. After having spent several years on the construction site, I wanted more. I really liked the decision-making and engineering tasks, but I was bothered by repetitive tasks and lack of digitization on site. Therefore, I decided I wanted to help implement digital technology on construction sites and make lives easier for managers on-site.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

In 2019 we implemented iPads including a cloud-based construction platform. In 2020 we launched 360° cameras on construction sites to reduce recurring processes and documentation. Currently, we are working on several projects, for example, simplifying the documentation of construction progress or issue management with AI.

Bontle Chabaesele

Junior Site Agent at JC Van Der Linde and Venter Projects (Pty) Ltd
Pretoria, South Africa

Why did you choose construction as a career?

Growing up, I always wanted to be in the construction industry because where I grew up heavy weather conditions would destroy some of the buildings in my area, there was a lack of bridges which put kids in danger when having to cross rivers and lack of proper roads — that encouraged me to want to make a difference and play my part in changing the world. I did not enroll for construction at first, reason being that I was led to believe that women do not often make it in the construction industry.

I then decided to enroll for something else (Marketing), the pain of doing something you are not passionate about is very intense, I then had to make a decision on my own, to either go to the broad road and listen to what everyone says or the narrow road and follow my passion regardless, I am here today so I decided to take the narrow road.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

My work life in the construction industry in terms of technology changed drastically in the past few months. We actually started using technology last year December when we were introduced to the integration of HoloBuilder and BIM 360. Communication has never been this easy in construction, reporting either daily, weekly, and/or monthly progress the traditional way is one of the most time-consuming processes and some information can be missed or forgotten. I am happy that with technology every process in our project is simplified. Communication with subcontractors is way easier, everyone who is involved in the project can see the progress and address issues immediately if there are any to be attended to.

Sara Guinand

BIM Manager at ALEC
Dubai, UAE

Why did you choose construction as a career?

It has always been my dream to work on a construction site and see a building growing from start to finish. I was also fascinated by technology and the enormous boost it can give to the construction field. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to combine these two drives in my career as a BIM architect.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

In the last 12 months, the way we use technologies company-wide has definitely grown. The ability to check the 360-degree photos available on HoloBuilder, for example, has given us the opportunity to continuously check site progress. We also implemented a very precise tool for deviation analysis, Scaled Robotics, and I was always able to review the models against the site conditions even though I could not visit the site for months. The information exchange platform on the cloud, BIM360 Docs, allowed each project team member to access and record graphical and non-graphical information from anywhere. Other benefits include federated model view, issue management, RFI, and review workflow all in the same platform. These powerful tools were not implemented or fully implemented one year ago and I can already see an improvement in many procedures and ways of thinking.

Sydney Olund

Geologist/Immersive Technology Specialist at Arcadis
Indianapolis, Indiana, US

Why did you choose construction as a career?

As a geologist, I love working outside, and I have been passionate about environmental science and conservation since high school. At Arcadis, I have had the opportunity to find new technology solutions for environmental and construction projects. The impact it has on our communities makes it so rewarding.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

Over the last twelve months, it has been inspiring to see our project teams adapt to this new normal. Our project teams have found creative ways to use HoloBuilder and other technology to support virtual meetings and create immersive experiences for our clients. I’ve also seen an increase in the adaptation of digital solutions in the field — such as automating digital note-taking and report generation. It is a truly exciting time to be working with digital tech.

Roxy April Malan

Quantity Surveyor at ALEC
Dubai, UAE

Why did you choose construction as a career?

We had a career day at High School and I happened to walk into the Quantity Surveying department area. It sounded like everything I was interested in — working with numbers, being challenged, ever-changing environment with different projects. I was also a big Lego builder as a kid, not sure if that had anything to do with it.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

I have learned to use all different types of technology & software over the past year. I was quite a big printer-person, so being a typical commercial person, I loved having all my documents printed and filed as hard copies. Working from home and not having a printer, you learn to use multiple screens, review and save documents on One Drive, electronically sign documents, etc. We have also adapted the way we run through our monthly payment assessments with the client. We use HoloBuilder and generate reports showing progress photos of the areas where we have applied for payment. This has shown that you can work remotely anywhere in the world as a commercial/support role and still have access to see the site progress with up-to-date 360° photos at your fingertips. Over the past few months, I have also started working with ALEC on the implementation of a new ERP System that will provide a whole new meaning to business integration, which I believe could not have come at a better time.

Philomena Reinmüller

Innovation Manager Design at GOLDBECK
Bielefeld, Germany

Why did you choose construction as a career?

I always wanted to be busy and creating. Studying architecture seemed like a reasonable choice. After working in Architecture internationally for around three years, I realized that the profession is still pretty much its own internal silo and lags in vertical integration of (technological) knowledge and trans-disciplinary approaches. Two main aspects led me to transition to a more technical field such as construction: On the one hand, I want to fix these non-holistic and linear processes that cause a shortfall of performance in the building sector at the intersection of design and construction. On the other hand, I am keen on the sustainability aspect of construction and the great opportunity for social, environmental, and economic impact. Adopting advanced technology and an interdisciplinary mindset in the industry is the first step to creating better-performing built environments. My career aspiration is to accelerate this shift.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

Working for an end-to-end construction company that has enough scale to unlock and invest in innovation in the industry really has been an eye-opening experience, not least over the past year. As the pandemic progressed, the need for technologies that enable remote work and effective and convenient collaboration among stakeholders became increasingly apparent.

We currently explore more integrated design software beyond CAD and BIM, such as the application of generative design in our building projects. Other important innovations include the use of cloud-based construction management platforms and opportunities for automated and remote image capture on our construction sites. I feel the last 12 months have really pointed out that it is the right time to reboot the system.

Tamara Dukic

Design Coordinator at ALEC
Abu Dhabi, UAE

Why did you choose construction as a career?

Construction career is rewarding, exciting, educates you with broad skills, and puts you not only in a professional office environment but also out in the field. You get to be part of the team that delivers iconic projects that are recognized worldwide and that is something that challenges you every day. From a very early age, I knew architecture would be my life call; during my studies, I orientated myself towards execution rather than design and I never regretted choosing it. With time, it only gets better as projects and technology are becoming more advanced.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

UAE is already ahead of the game when it comes to technology in every sense, and construction doesn’t fall behind. In fast-track projects of high complexity like the ones we do, fast and efficient processes that bring results are crucial to deliver, especially in supporting fields, like planning, commercial, and design but also on the construction site itself. We constantly need to improve to be ahead of the game.

Just last year, I had the opportunity to learn and use 4 different programs and platforms that I hadn’t used before and I see that as something that will only improve over time, as people will realize what value it brings to all stakeholders. We need to get rid of unnecessary and time-consuming processes so we can focus on what matters. The flow of information is tremendous and there is no irrelevant or less important stuff; you need to see and know everything in order to do it right. It’s the same on the site itself; so many repetitive processes are being transformed using technology and artificial intelligence and that is something we need to support.

I’m glad that companies are constantly trying to find solutions and ways to improve by developing new solutions and technology, but it is also up to us to embrace new ideas and means of work execution, otherwise, we will not take advantage of its full potential. Technology is transforming the world and we need to be part of it.

Hiroko Shirakata

Customer Success Manager at HoloBuilder
San Francisco, California, US

Why did you choose construction as a career?

I didn’t choose the construction industry, I stumbled into it! I started my career as a preschool teacher and after several years, I was ready to move onto another path. A student’s father offered me a job to run his office as a way to gain marketable skills outside of a classroom to help with my resume. We agreed to this arrangement to last a year. It ended up lasting 15! I moved to become an estimator, project manager, and industry expert in accessibility design and elevator codes. And now after over 17 years in the construction industry, I can’t imagine switching to another one.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

Besides moving to work from home and an increased number of zoom meetings, my work life has mostly remained the same. We have seen an increase in the usage of our solution as many stakeholders have seen the value of using HoloBuilder’s technology to allow them remote access to project sites. One thing that I do miss is going to the customer’s office or jobsite for in-person training. It was fun to see people’s faces and hear their reactions during that “WOW” moment when learning and using the technology.

Bayan Omar

Planning Engineer Senior at ALEC
Dubai, UAE

Why did you choose construction as a career?

I have been raised in a family that appreciates Art and Engineering, and I had an interest in Civil Engineering since I was 15 years old. During high school, I got very high marks and everyone was advising me to study Medicine rather than Engineering, however, I chose Civil Engineering. After graduation I chose to work as a site Planning Engineer in the construction industry since I like variety and change in work; every day in a construction site is a different day and a different challenge. I like that in construction you have to work as a team and interact with people from different backgrounds to find solutions. Also, you can see the result of your hard work every day and in every project so you will get the satisfaction that everyone looks for in their job. I wanted to show that women can contribute to the success of the construction industry same as men in every aspect.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

A few years back; the construction industry witnessed a disruption due to emerging technologies coming into the picture. Accordingly, companies raced to adopt the new technologies and integrate them into their delivery processes and methodologies. Some of these methods include 3D printing, AI, big data, and machine learning. With the Covid Pandemic and lockdowns, adopting the new technologies become a necessity more than an option. ALEC has introduced various new software and technologies that gave us the support to maintain the same productivity while we work remotely; as planners, we were using cloud-based software that enabled us to work from anywhere and deliver on time. In addition, only essential meetings were being conducted in person with the majority taking place online. Moreover, all the progress reports, KPIs, and dashboards were updated online and distributed digitally to the relevant parties. Many innovative ideas have been implemented by ALEC which has helped us to reduce timeframes, increase productivity, become more sustainable and promote the agility in construction that will help a lot in the future even after Covid.

Andrea Blair

Senior BIM/VDC Specialist at Kraus-Anderson
Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

Why did you choose construction as a career?

Initially having a background in design, I found myself drawn to the complexities of buildings and ultimately how they were constructed. Getting to be a part of projects literally from the ground up is extremely rewarding and each day brings a new set of challenges, opportunities, and excitement.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

Construction technology has vastly changed over the 9 years that I have been in the industry but in the last 12 months, the demand for knowledge, transparency, and connectivity has drastically increased. With being socially distanced and work-from-home, projects teams and clients could have quickly been left in the dark on jobsite progress but with the use of various technologies, project teams can be kept informed as if they were walking the jobsite themselves and be better connected than ever before.

Jazline Barcelona

Superintendent Assistant at Arcadis
White Plains, New York, US

Why did you choose construction as a career?

I chose construction as a career because construction work gives back to the community. After working in social services for 22 years, I decided to look at other careers that might help the community. Construction has a number of positive repercussions that I’m proud to be a part of.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

In the last year, I have been utilizing more digital tools in the field, including using HoloBuilder to capture site photos and integrate information more seamlessly with the project, upgrading the way we experience our work.

Sharon Thomas

Architect at ALEC
Dubai, UAE

Why did you choose construction as a career?

My inquisitiveness to analyze, design, and build interesting infrastructure and spaces was the inspiration for electing Architecture as my field of study and career. Being in the architectural and construction field, you then realize that the terms “design & construction” is synonymous and performed in conjunction. It thrills me to be on this challenging side of the project where you are always in action, controlling architectural details on site and figuring out solutions to resolve site issues.

Further, I get to forge lifelong friendships and relationships being a valued team member. Working together on creating, building and delivering projects, and looking back and feeling accomplished upon its completion, is a great feeling.

How did your work life in the construction industry changed in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

It has been an eye-opener these past 12 months. We just realized how much we can see and perform beyond the conventional point of thinking, work methodologies & implementation. Using technology to secure substantial improvements to our advantage in these difficult times has been an absolute game-changer. The pandemic just accelerated the pace for a digital tech era in architecture and construction.

I believe very strongly; construction always has been and will be still one of the most hands-on industries in the world. But then there is an era of technology coming up, where it is being used to help in achieving to get better at our job. We must balance and adapt swiftly…and this will be our “New Way of Life”.

Hiromi Machinaga

Customer Success Specialist for Japan at HoloBuilder
Japan

Why did you choose construction as a career?

I was fascinated by the way construction creates cities and maps.

How did your work life in the construction industry change in the last 12 months, especially in terms of technology usage?

I am very happy to have found HoloBuilder, a tool that will change the way we work in the construction industry.

. . .

Do you also have an inspiring story about how you got into the construction industry? Let us know via buildingtogether@holobuilder.com.

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