In the past when it came time for a woman to find a career, she was guided toward either teaching or nursing school. This held true for many years. However, as time has progressed, #girlpower has become a mantra for encouraging young women to break society stereotypes and lead, not just follow. Although, over the years it’s not been the case when referring to the traditionally male-dominated industries, such as construction. More recently companies, associations and schools are increasing their efforts to continue highlighting the value of construction jobs for young women so that they can see the industry as a viable career path.
We’d like to introduce you to a couple of Mosby employees who continue to break that glass ceiling in our industry. Meet Tina Reese, Production Manager, and Jill Huckleberry, Senior Project Manager.
We had a chance to sit down with both to gain insight into their roles at the company and in the industry.
What did you want to be when you were a young girl?
JH: I don’t think there’s a name for what I wanted to do when I was little. I wanted to study the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, UFO’s, and Big Foot. Later I nailed it down to a physical anthropologist.
TR: I worked as a Candy Striper from the age of 14 to 17 so I just always assumed I would go into the medical field. I always thought it would be cool to read x-rays so Radiology seemed like the best place for me.
What path did you take after high school?
JH: I enjoyed high school, really I did! But upon graduating, it was pretty much general mayhem. Let’s just say I’m lucky to be here.
TR: Moved out on my own right after High School, then worked three jobs to pay the bills doing general office work and customer service.
How long have you been in the construction field?
JH: 22 years
TR: 18 years
Why did you choose construction?
JH: I was in landscaping before construction and I loved it, but I wasn’t making much money. A friend of mine worked for a construction company and got me on as an apprentice. I had always enjoyed making things and getting dirty, so it seemed like a good fit. It really wasn’t, because it was commercial and the union mentality towards women wasn’t the greatest 22 years ago. I didn’t really find my fit until I came to Mosby. I realized that remodeling beautiful kitchens and baths was exactly what I wanted to do.
TR: I love to see our projects transform from basically nothing tangible into a thing of beauty for our clients. I love to remodel my house (I’m not great at it and use lots of advice from the team here at Mosby) but I like to constantly change things up in the house.
What is your favorite thing about your position?
JH: The relationship with the clients and their appreciation of me and my team when we’ve successfully wrapped up a project. To me, this is probably the most important aspect as it means we’ve met our timelines, budgets and goals.
TR: The PEOPLE!! I love the folks that I work with, and love seeing them outperforming expectations. I’m always excited to see what miracles they perform on our jobs with their talents.
What is the biggest change you have seen in the field since you started?
JH: I’d have to say lasers, for purposes of leveling, aligning and other traditional manual processes. They are a total game changer and save so much time. Technology (iPads/iPhones) in general, has also helped immensely.
TR: The use of electronics for everything and going paperless. And in the future it will only continue to become more technologically advanced, using robotics, 3D printers and automation.
What has been the most challenging/surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
JH: The prejudices that I experienced in the union was terrible. Towards the end of my 6 years with my previous company, everyday I would wake up for work with a stomachache. It was miserable. Here at Mosby, I’ve had several clients that I had to prove myself to because I was a woman. It was awesome earning their respect by the end of a job.
TR: Getting the respect I have earned is a big challenge. Usually in this field it’s just a commonly held belief that men know more than women, which of course isn’t accurate. Earning the respect in the field of the predominantly older, male generation is very difficult.
What has been your most memorable moment working in construction?
JH: Any time that I have won awards for the jobs that I physically did myself. A memorable one was winning a national Chrysalis Award in the Basement Remodeling category.
TR: I was published in a local magazine featuring women in construction. Also appearing on the local KSDK Show Me St. Louis program to talk about our Tradeswork Apprentice program. It involves a year-long intensive, on-the-job training program which then offers each applicant the chance to apply for a full-time position with Mosby. Employment in the trades is booming and often pays better than those jobs requiring a college education.
What are some of your best qualities and skills that make you most effective in your job?
JH: As a PM I guess I’d have to say organization is very important. In my world, I’m constantly juggling a lot of responsibilities at once. I pride myself on insuring that I have a schedule, then confirming that I have everything on the job when it’s needed. Ultimately, it really comes down to me prioritizing what items matter most and delegating.
TR: I’m very openminded and nonjudgmental. As a manager, I like to talk to our team, then listen to their input and am always open to feedback. I really enjoy working with my team to develop solutions that benefit both Mosby and our clients. As a manager, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure a project be completed on time and within scope, which requires effective communication with my staff.
What advice would you offer another woman wanting a career in construction?
JH: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I missed out on a lot when I first started because I was afraid that I was going to mess up. You’re going to at some point…it’s inevitable. But it’s never the end of the world. You just need to turn your mistakes into learning opportunities.
TR: Women in the construction industry are not viewed as having much knowledge or experience. It can be a very stereotypical environment. So, make sure you lead with confidence, be humble and approachable and learn something new every day!
This is the third in a series of “Meet the Team” blogs. Mosby Building Arts is very proud of both Tina and Jill in making our company more gender inclusive and helping to move the entire industry in the right direction. You can look forward to future blogs to learn more about others on our staff. If you have some remodeling to do, call us at 314-909-1800. You’re in good hands with Tina and Jill on the front line, as well as our entire Mosby team!