Women in Construction Leadership Panel

women in construction

Throughout Clyde Companies, women play integral roles in our operations. As we celebrate Women in Construction Week (March 3-8, 2024), we heard from leaders across several of our subsidiaries on the important role of women in the workplace, including: 

Jo Pendleton (Director of Continuous Improvement at Geneva Rock) 
Brent Turpin (Vice President of Idaho at Sunroc) 
David Dean (Division Manager at WW Clyde) 
Steve Broadbent (Vice President of Specialty Products at Sunpro) 
Phil Nordquist (Area Manager of Construction at Geneva Rock) 
John Pennington (Division Manager at Bridgesource) 

From your perspective, what unique qualities do women bring to different roles within the construction industry and across Clyde Companies? 

Jo Pendleton: Women bring a different perspective to the table. A company is stronger when its team members represent different genders. Because women have different qualities and background experiences, we are able to look at problems from new perspectives and work together with the team to find creative solutions. 

Brent Turpin: It’s different at different levels. It might sound funny, but most of our women operators aren’t trying to compete with each other all the time, so they don’t tear up our equipment nearly as much. So, it’s awesome that way, but on a more serious note, there’s a lot that comes through with their different perspectives. They look at things differently. People react to them differently, which isn’t a bad thing. They bring a unique perspective that we don’t necessarily always see, so it’s a good to have that balance. 

David Dean: I believe that women bring a unique set of abilities and qualities to our teams and construction workforce that are sorely needed! Some of the things that I have observed include hard work, dedication, attention to detail, being able to maintain a level head in tough situations and being able to solve problems through a different perspective. Also, they offer a level of care and concern for those they work with that is often lacking in the industry. 

Steve Broadbent: I think the women in this industry bring a different level of communication to the table; they have a more natural ability to understand multiple perspectives and communicate effectively. I have also seen a higher level of organization in how they approach planning and completing their work. Additionally, the women here at Sunpro have a significant impact in creating a workplace that is more inviting and inclusive for employees, suppliers, and our customers. 

Phil Nordquist: We recently hired a new Construction Admin, and she came from the secondary education realm which has been a great asset for our area. She brings insights she has learned from her education degree which we as a construction people may not have realized. Insights like team building ideas, added organization to Teams and project files, ideas on how to manage month-end reporting, perspectives on work-life balance, etc. 

John Pennington: Just having a perspective that is not a man’s perspective is huge. I believe it’s always good to have a woman’s perspective on things. When I was working at Sunroc, I had around 10 women working for me at one point and three were direct reports. They would often bring situational advice to the table that made a huge difference. 

Can you share from personal experience how a woman has significantly influenced a project, a continuous improvement initiative, or the culture of Clyde Companies? 

Brent Turpin: It’s a good question. Jaime Edelmayer is one of our project managers. She’s does a great job. She keeps a very level head, is very calm, and gains confidence of owners quickly. That’s been such a huge benefit to us. I think that feeds right into the culture too. She’s probably one of our more experienced project managers now, and she’s sharing a lot of her knowledge with some of our younger project managers. She sees things from a different perspective. She looks at things from our customer’s point of view and doing that is a good way to find compromise. That’s been a big plus. 

John Pennington: Mariah Hardy is part of the leadership team at Sunroc that consists of superintendents over each of the major areas in Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. She has direct reports in each of those locations, so she’s involved in all aspects of the business. We had a big push as a company to be as lean as possible in our operations. She was one of the biggest advocates of adopting the three S’s (Sweep, Sort, and Standardize) in processes. She has led the way when it comes to organization and often takes on some of the tougher tasks like inventory management. 

Jo Pendleton: Kelsea Genovesi is a great example of a woman at Geneva Rock that has grown her sphere of responsibilities through personal and professional improvement. Starting as a scale person around 10 years ago, she went to school to get her degree while juggling a family and working full time as the lead dispatcher for the North Area. Her supervisor leveraged the skills she was learning in school to help with special projects. Now that she has graduated, she was recently promoted to be a Project Coordinator for the trucking division. 

Phil Nordquist: Our new Construction Admin reached out to Kathy Green, the North Area Project Admin, for help in understanding her new position. Kathy is the one who all areas seek out because she has “all the answers.” Kathy is incredible and is willing to take the time to teach all of us how to do our jobs better. She keeps us all in line, and I am truly grateful for her. 

What advice would you offer young women aspiring to enter the construction field or advance within it, including at Clyde Companies? 

Phil Nordquist: I might suggest they learn as much as possible and ask questions under good leadership. The more the experience, the easier it is to get a point across. Firm, fair, and friendly is a reasonable motto to allow advancement both in the field and within Clyde Companies. 

David Dean: My advice would be to not be afraid! You have a voice with important experience and perspective that needs to be shared. I would also add that working hard and doing your best to contribute to the team’s success will help you to grow in your career. 

Steve Broadbent: My advice would be to identify a mentor within the industry and explore opportunities with an inquisitive mind, don’t be intimidated to ask a lot of questions, and share your perspective. A unique perspective to a problem or asking the right questions brings valuable discussion, learning, and at times leads to unexpected solutions to complex problems. 

John Pennington: My biggest advice is to not be intimidated at a table dominated by men, but to be very vocal and open about your perspective. Make sure you’re contributing and bringing your perspective. I think we have a very welcoming environment here. A woman’s voice in the construction industry is needed because what they bring is extremely valuable. 

Brent Turpin: I really think the stereotypical construction guy sticks out in young women’s minds and that might prevent some from seeking a career in construction. You are going to encounter that type of individual, but I think they are fewer and further between. There’s a lot of opportunity for women to come into the construction world and to contribute at a high level. They shouldn’t be afraid to come in because there are a ton of opportunities. I definitely think the opportunity for advancement is much better now than it’s ever been. 

Jo Pendleton: Be brave: Try new things that interest you and put yourself out there. Be bold: If you have an idea, speak up! Be confident in the skills you have and never stop acquiring new ones. 

How can we increase the visibility and recognition of women’s contributions in construction, both across Clyde Companies and industry-wide? 

Steve Broadbent: We can bolster our efforts in highlighting those high performers currently within the company. I’ve noticed that many of the great things our female workforce do go unpublicized and unrecognized despite avenues for those individuals to highlight those achievements, such as in Teams. I think we can make a more conscious effort to encourage those individuals to highlight their specific efforts and/or recognize those efforts as a leadership group. 

Jo Pendleton: Women are often invisible. We are used to doing a lot of behind the scenes work without taking credit. Leaders can be better at just seeing the awesome things that the women are doing and saying, “Good work.” 

Brent Turpin: Visibility is a hard one, right? Because there’s X number of women coming to work in construction, but I think we need to celebrate it. It’s a great thing when they do come, and a lot of it’s just making them feel comfortable or letting them know they’re wanted in this. How we do that is a good question, but I definitely think the more we can make them feel comfortable, the better off it’s going to be for everybody. 

David Dean: I think that a great way to increase the visibility and recognition of women in construction and their contribution would be to share their stories. If we can observe their impact and performance, interview fellow team members, and ask them questions; we can share their story on social media which could help our company and the industry.