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In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed women of Great Lakes E&I to learn about their backgrounds and showcase their accomplishments and struggles in the workplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up only 9.3% of employees in the construction industry. Without many mentors to look up to, women might feel as if there isn’t a place for them in this industry, but we want to change that. Each day during Women’s week we featured a different woman from Great Lakes E&I to find out what it’s like working in a male-dominated field.

Amanda Kuchan
Marketing Coordinator

“Although it has been a short time, I have really enjoyed my time here at Great Lakes E&I. Every day there is something new. Each person that I have worked with has been so nice and has helped me with my new position. Being in a work environment is similar yet different than college life. In both places I need to prioritize and figure out what to accomplish first and what I have to spend more time doing. Figuring out time management in school has helped me become the worker that I am today.”

Q: What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to other women in the workplace or those preparing for their careers? 

A: I am a 2014 college graduate so my work experience has been somewhat limited. I have learned that at every job that you are in teaches you something. You may get frustrated or you may not like it, but each opportunity gives you something to take from it. Find the positive and bring that into your next position. My goal is to make a difference and be appreciated. I can’t really give much advice but I am always willing to listen!

 

Erin Soliz
Director of Sales & Marketing

Erin Soliz received her BS in Finance and Corporate Accounting from Drake University.  She started her career at Maritz Travel as an accountant doing project accounting for group and incentive travel for corporations.  She then moved to KPMG Consulting and became a functional consultant for the Department of Defense and gained valuable knowledge of their accounting systems.  After about 3 years in the workforce, she decided to move to Chicago and peruse an MBA at DePaul University while working at Siemens Building Technology in their facility management division.  After completing her MBA in Strategy, Execution and Valuation, she made the leap to Accenture and worked in its corporate development group working on their largest deals and spending a good amount of time on the road gaining all the airline and hotel points she could.   After 7 years on the road, she met and married her husband Marcelo and moved into a corporate finance role where she began creating presentation on results, strategy and trainings for the CFO.  After having two children, Lauren and Benjamin, she looked to move to be closer to home and started working at GLDD in Corporate Development and later moved to Director of Sales and Marketing for E&I.

Q: What are some challenges you’ve overcome as a woman in the workplace? 

A: Understanding you don’t have to be like anyone else.  If you work in a male dominated field, don’t try to be one of the guys just to fit in.  Being different is your differentiator.

Q: What are your career goals and aspirations? 

A: Always trying to push outside my comfort zone and try new things and gain marketable skills.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when beginning your career? 

A: Your career isn’t a sprint…it’s more like a marathon.  Sometimes you take lateral moves that actually help you advance much later in your career.  The key is continual growth.

Q: What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to other women in the workplace or those preparing for their careers? 

A: Always volunteer for the special projects and do more than just answer the mail for your day to day duties.  Participation in those things are what shape your career and help you grow into new areas and keep things fresh.

Suzanne Grix
Business Development Manager

Suzanne Grix is a graduate of Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business and has been working with Great Lakes E&I and its predecessors for six and a half years. What started out as supplemental income to pay for college became a career when her part time position as a Front Desk Coordinator inspired an unsolicited internship in sales and marketing and a subsequent offer to represent the company as Territory Sales Manager for industrial maintenance, waste hauling, and underground infrastructure services (all within 8 months!). In January of 2016, Suzanne was promoted to the environmental remediation and geotechnical construction division of the firm where she represents Great Lakes E&I in more than eight states in the Midwest. She is Vice President of her home chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction, Vice President of Public Relations in her local Toastmasters Club, and orchestrates Young Professional events for the West Michigan chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association. Suzanne loves to run, hike, golf, volunteer, travel, read, soak up podcasts (so many podcasts) and drink craft beer.

Q: What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to other women in the workplace or those preparing for their careers?

A: Not every person you encounter in your career will appreciate your place in the workforce and acknowledge who you are and what you bring to the team, but you should always remember that overcoming human obstacles is a crucible of leadership. If you handle it appropriately (work hard, be a sponge, and be respectful always and to everyone), you will emerge better for it. A great article in Harvard Business Review put it this way, “the skills required to conquer adversity and emerge stronger and more committed than ever are the same ones that make for extraordinary leaders.”

Chris Schuver
Human Resources Director

Most recently, Chris was the Vice President of Human Resources for Maurice Sporting Goods.  Prior to that position, she was the Senior Director of Human Resources for Sterigenics International, Inc.  Chris has broad HR leadership skills with extensive experience in manufacturing, distribution and technical environments.  Chris has a Bachelor’s degree in Labor & Industrial Relations from Northern Illinois University and a certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).

Q: What are some challenges you’ve overcome as a woman in the workplace?

A: Work-life balance has been one of the toughest challenges, especially when both spouses work and you have children.  It can be very difficult and stressful at times to make it all work.  In an effort to achieve work-life balance, my husband ended up being a stay at home dad while we were raising our son.  While there was a loss of income, it greatly reduced the stress and allowed me to be able to do more career-wise.

Q: What are your career goals and aspirations?

A: My career goal has always been to run an HR organization for a company.  I guess I achieved that!

Q: What advice do you wish you received when beginning your career?

A: When you accept a job, make sure it works for you personally, professionally and financially.  Don’t sacrifice one area for another.

Q: What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to other women in the workplace or those preparing for their careers?

A: There will be twists and turns in your career that you have no control over…some good, some bad.  Stay true to yourself, work hard, enjoy your successes and learn from your failures.
Tamela Holman
Project Controls Manager

“My biggest accomplishments were raising 4-beautiful, intelligent, independent daughters, and being blissfully married for 18-years.  I owe these accomplishments to my dad who has been my mentor.

My professional accomplishments started early when my husband and I owned a successful business. We then ventured into the environmental world where we hit the road and travelled for 12-years, moving Superfund Site to Superfund Site.  Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Texas, and on and on all while toting our entire family.  After many years of this we relocated to Cape Cod.  We lived and worked there for 10 years. My role in cleaning up all of these job sites was tracking cost, forecasting and scheduling.  Every job was something different.  This experience made me the woman I am today.”

Q: What are some challenges you’ve overcome as a woman in the workplace?

A: I believe there is and always has been challenges for women in the workplace, and so much more in the construction industry. There are many diverse walks of life in our industry. I always strive to work with them side by side and earn their respect based on the knowledge and expertise I can bring to the table. Having experience in the field and understanding the challenges they face daily has been an advantage for me.

Q: What are your career goals and aspirations?

A: I want to be the best of the best in any team I am in, and know that I have shared my knowledge with anyone who will listen. My aspirations are to make Great Lakes E&I the number 1 company in the industry.  I enjoy being a part of the building blocks for a successful company.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when beginning your career?

A: I started working when I was 16-years old.  I wish someone would have told me not to work at such an early age, but I do contribute that to my excellent work ethic.

Q: What words of wisdom would you like to pass on to other women in the workplace or those preparing for their careers?

A: Don’t be afraid to speak up or ask the question and don’t let anyone make you feel less than no matter what position you hold.