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changes. Accessing the waves of educated, resourceful, and ambitious women entering the workforce is one such response. Why Hire A Woman? I should pause here and clarify. I am not advocating the mass hire of women for its own sake alone. Indeed, no two people are identical; so it is impossible to make accurate sweeping statements about the effects “women” as a singular group would have on the industry. For instance, the cliché idea that all women are an asset to male-dominated industries because they have a gentling effect on their tough-as-nails male colleagues and sweeten the experience for the client is an oversimplification. Some of the toughest, most driven, direct, and efficient managers I’ve worked under have been women. While calm and controlled, there was nothing gentle about their management style— they demonstrated the grit and incisiveness that the ideal executive should have when the situation calls for it. Similarly, many women have the gift of organization and can get an office running on all cylinders, while others are focused on big-picture strategy and have no bandwidth for the minutia. In my opinion, generalizations about the merits of women as opposed to men are reductionist and unhelpful. So no, my argument for concerted effort to draw female candidates to the industry is a simple and practical one: untapped resources. Currently, the construction industry pulls 9 of every 10 hires from the male population. Statistically speaking, broadening that hiring pool increases the range of skills and perspectives that a company stands to absorb through its hiring program. The diversification of the available skills in a company is like additional arrows in a quiver or more fuel in a tank. To be sure, hiring people out of their current fields requires that you both be able to attract them and then retain them. Competitive compensation, health benefits, and a clear growth track are essential components to catching a candidate’s eye and compelling them to sign on. When courting a serious candidate, assume that they will gravitate toward serious opportunities where the potential for both growth and successful contribution is high. My Story: Old Skills, New Growth Like I alluded before, my career trajectory to my current position was by no means direct. On the contrary, I entered this field full-time after years of managing my full-time career in international human rights work in New York City and abroad while simultaneously consulting on shotcrete education. Could two industries be more different? Doubtful. The skills, however— management, organizational, operational, public relations, marketing—transferred well. Personally speaking, as Vice President of Drakeley Pool Company and Drakeley Industries (our sister consulting firm specializing in shotcrete applications), I was interested in the opportunity to have a critical role in creating growth. With the support of my colleagues throughout the company, I have been able to streamline systems, institute a rebrand that both honors and refreshes our company’s core identity, and actively participate in the execution of our custom shotcrete installations. However, when asked what my key contribution has been to our two firms, I make an immediate connection back to my previous line of work. Then, most of my day-to-day tasks involved communicating with key partners literally all around the world. Whether I was up at 3:00 a.m. to make a call to Kenya or writing an e-mail as simply and clearly as possible to a partner in South Sudan whose grasp of the English language was rudimentary, I was constantly striving to be understood correctly. The only way to do that was to exercise what I describe as “active empathy”—putting yourself as best you can in the other person’s shoes and acting accordingly. And it became engrained in the way I conduct business. Fig. 1: Lily Samuels, Vice President of Drakeley Industries and Drakeley Pool Company, heads up client relations and general operations at the two firms Shotcrete • Fall 2016 19


2016FallShotcreteEMag
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