Commercial Construction & Renovation Magazine profiled Senior Project Manager Felicia Conboy as part of their Women in Construction column, a conversation feature with leaders throughout the industry. Published in their latest issue, the wide-ranging Q&A features Felicia’s insights on her career trajectory, industry outlook, vast project experience—including her current project at a commercial and life science development at Boynton Yards in Somerville, MA—commitment to safety innovations, and Shawmut’s DEI journey, as well as advice for other women pursuing careers within the AEC industry. Read Felicia’s profile in CCR Mag here and below.
Felicia Conboy’s first construction job was a viaduct rehabilitation in New York City for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The first experience taught her a lot, everything from paperwork, cost ratios, and logistics and scheduling. But walking away from the experience, the thing that stuck out the most was the teamwork the project required.
The power of how everyone came together helped shape what her career would look like. Everyone collaborated, supported, and meshed together really well. Today, as a Senior Project Manager at Shawmut Design and Construction, it is an experience she tries to emulate on every project. We sat down with her to get her insights on the opportunities the industry holds for today’s women construction professionals, and what the future holds for her.
Tell us your story. How did you get started in the industry? I studied Civil Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with dreams of designing bridges and skyscrapers. As I embarked on internships that explored the various realms of the industry, I discovered I was much more intrigued by building than I was with designing. When I had the opportunity to intern and work directly in the field for the first time, I quickly realized my passion for building—seeing plans come to life, overcoming challenges, physically seeing spaces being built, being part of a fast-paced, team-focused environment, and ultimately turning over a space to a happy client. That’s when I decided to pursue a career in construction—joining Shawmut eight years ago where I began in the retail sector for high-end clients.Today, my experience spans many sectors and project sizes, and I am currently working on a large-scale, state-of-the-art life science building that will be the future home of innovative research labs, in Somerville, Massachusetts.
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen over the past few years? There have been many changes and breakthroughs throughout the AEC industry over the years—from safety innovations to technology to AI—and there are a few that standout. One has been the emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging throughout the industry. From upholding a culture of belonging at Shawmut to driving supplier diversity on our projects, it remains clear that building a team diverse in people, ideas, and experiences strengthens us all. Additionally, green building and sustainability continue to be at the forefront of every project. It has become an expected standard from partners to lower carbon footprint, reduce waste, and create more green, eco-friendly spaces.
What opportunities are out there for the industry as we move forward? For women? Women can really do whatever they want to in this industry right now. It’s all about understanding how best to apply your skill set and communicating what you want to achieve.
What type of trends are you seeing today? The industry continues to constantly evolve and we’re seeing a stronger transition from “just in time” procurement to as soon as possible to combat global supply chain challenges. We’re seeing a similar uptick in prefabrication and offsite construction to streamline how materials arrive safely and efficiently to the field—minimizing install time and optimizing technology to plan ahead.
What advice can you share? Embrace getting your hands dirty—as a young woman in construction, you’re working against both age and gender bias. Getting out on site, digging into the details, helping with layout, asking questions, and truly being engaged will not only grow your technical knowledge, but reinforce your willingness to learn and contribute.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received? Find a mentor—having someone to bounce ideas off or ask for advice from is invaluable.
What’s the single best thing every woman can do to make sure they continue to get a seat at the table? Bring confidence—cultivate it, embrace it, and use it as a tool to motivate the team. Women deserve a seat at the table—they bring a different perspective and dynamic. Arrive at the table prepared, know the job better than anyone else, and trust in your abilities.
What's the biggest item on your to-do list? Constantly learning—seeking opportunities to expose myself to new technologies, different technical buildings, and taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from my awesome teammates.