Twelve of our Shawmut team members were profiled in New England Real Estate Journal’s 2021 Women in Construction Spotlight, dedicated to women and their accomplishments in the AEC industry. Read some of the Q&A’s below, ranging from greatest professional achievement to why women should consider a career in construction.
Elizabeth Murphy, Project Manager
Starting out in the construction business, who or what empowered you? Representation matters. When I started interning at Shawmut, I was still in college and had no idea what to expect. There were many women at Shawmut who were succeeding in their roles, had confidence when they spoke to clients or subcontractors, and really understood the technical aspects of construction. These women also shared the realities of being female in the construction industry and some of the hardships faced. These insights were inspiring, and these women served as living examples of how women can do anything, and specifically, how I could continue towards a career in construction.
Meaghan Lewis, Project Superintendent
How have you adapted and changed in the last 12 months? The past year has certainly had its challenges in the field amid Covid-19. Personally, being pregnant during the pandemic in the field brought its own set of challenges. I was able to grow in so many different aspects of my life—inside and outside of work. I was able to become even more accepting of the consistent changes in the field while staying flexible. Continuously working on keeping the moral up and developing new strategies to maintain a positive and safe environment. These challenges only furthered my development and respect for the industry.
Stephanie Swartz, Senior Project Manager
What steps have you taken to ensure the continued success of your firm? The project I am currently working on (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston) has been successful because of the team dynamics. I believe creating an environment of inclusion and collaboration is essential for teamwork. Each member of our team is dedicated to open-mindedly solving problems, which, in turn, has created strong relationships with all team players—including the design team, as well as the owner. I believe these traits of our team set us apart from many other project teams.
Toni Papadopoulos, Project Manager
Why should women consider a career in construction? The construction industry is extremely rewarding. Our work has a physical result that will be used for years to come. There is pride that comes with being able to drive by a building and tell a friend, “I helped build that.” It’s also a very fast-paced, motivating career where no two days or challenges are alike. Every project is different from the last. Additionally, you can take skills from other industries and apply them to construction. I’m currently pursuing a Master’s in Project Management at Northeastern University and am in classes with people from various industries. Stories from classmates who work in non-profits, or healthcare, can be related directly to what I do every day.
Kate Simons, Director – Scheduling & Controls
What was your greatest professional achievement or most notable project in the last 12 months? One of the best parts about my role here at Shawmut is that I get to interact with all project teams across the New England Region. When everything shut down in March 2020, there was a tremendous focus on our project schedules and how to keep projects on track despite delays due to Covid-19. It was tremendously rewarding to partner with all of our project teams and develop creative solutions to help them deliver for their clients.
What are you most looking forward to post-pandemic? I love feeling the energy in the room or on the jobsite, and the magic of collaborating in person. I look forward to everyone regaining a comfort level to work together face to face. It’s especially hard to build new relationships when you can’t look someone in the eye. I also can’t wait to take off masks and see everyone’s smiles!
Ellen Muehleck, Project Manager
Starting out in the construction business, who or what empowered you? In my first few years at Shawmut, I quickly got involved with many different groups and communities throughout the company. I created relationships with peers and mentors that championed and encouraged me in my career. Forging relationships across your business and getting involved is crucial to feeling empowered and supported.
Devinn Doherty, Project Manager
Why should women consider a career in construction? Women should consider a career in construction because it is an industry of constant learning and innovation. At every stage of your career, you are learning something new. No two projects are alike, and although your construction knowledge grows with every project, you will always have the opportunity to learn more.
What was your greatest professional achievement or most notable project in the last 12 months? My most notable project in the past 12 months was the restoration of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston. This multi-year project includes the historic restoration of various spaces. The project team consisted of many women from not only Shawmut, but also the client, architect, and engineer. It was an honor to collaborate with the team and I’m sad my estimating role is completed on the project.
What are you most looking forward to post-pandemic? Professionally, I am looking forward to in-person meetings. I took them for granted before—and while the shift companies have made to go virtual during the pandemic has been amazing—I do miss the personal connections that can’t be made jumping from virtual meeting to virtual meeting. Personally, getting together with family and friends that I have truly missed.
Christine Kennedy, Project Manager
Starting out in the construction business, who or what empowered you? One of my first jobs in construction was at a small firm in CT. I worked closely with their staff architect and did a lot of CAD drawings. The first project I worked on was a large doctor’s office. While the project was under construction, we made a site visit to field measure for some changes that needed to be made. That was the first time that I ever saw what I put on paper come to life—and it was a fulfilling experience.
What was your greatest professional achievement or most notable project in the last 12 months? This past year I have managed a $5M fit-out for a daycare space solo. I have a great team to rely on when needed, but I have been driving the job forward on my own. It has been eye-opening and exciting to develop my own relationships with the owner’s rep, owner, and architect and finesse my own style running meetings, submitting change orders, and troubleshooting on site. I’m looking forward to the next challenges!