WIC Week 2017 – Nora Benson
Women in Construction (WIC) Week is upon us once again! This week-long celebration is a yearly acknowledgement of the many contributions of women to the AEC industry, as well as a time to raise awareness of the various opportunities available to women within the industry.
Arden Building Companies is proud to have a diverse group of women working in wide variety of roles, from pipefitting, to sales, to estimating, and accounting.
As part of our WIC Week celebration, we asked members of our team to share their experiences as a woman in construction and offer advice for other women/young girls who are thinking about a career within the industry. We’ll be sharing these stories throughout the week.
To close out the week, Nora Benson shares her story.
How and why did you get into the industry?
I came to work for Arden Engineering through an advertisement for office help. I was not specifically looking to get into the construction industry. I had been laid off by my job at a container storage company where I was the office manager/dispatcher. Prior to that, I sold CPR and First Aid classes to businesses through the Red Cross in Boston. Being a single mom, I needed to start working as soon as possible after the lay off. I applied for the customer service coordinator’s position available at Arden where I would be responsible for receiving incoming emergency service calls, assigning the service technicians to their work assignments, reconciling receipts of goods that were purchased, reconciling payroll for the service technicians, and processing invoices for work performed.
This was an office position that I knew I could handle. I was in that position for almost 11 years and during that time I learned a great deal about the HVAC industry. Working closely with the service technicians and the service manager, I learned about different types of HVAC equipment and services that we offered. One of the ways we get and retain our customers is through our planned maintenance programs. Bringing on new customers and selling those programs seemed like something I could and would like to do. Arden is a company that offers growth from within, so I discussed my goals with my boss and he agreed to let me move into the sales department and become one of the sales account managers. That is the position that I hold today.
Every day looks a bit different, but my goals are always the same. I keep in constant contact with my existing customers to ensure that any issues with their HVAC equipment are handled and their scheduled maintenance is performed the way it was planned. The other goal I have is to bring on new customers and help them understand the services and level of technical knowledge that Arden possesses to handle any and all of their HVAC, plumbing, electrical and fire protection needs.
What challenges do you see associated with being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?
I believe there is inequality and challenges in all fields of work when it comes to women, but in a male-dominated field, it is even more obvious. We need to re-educate people that if there is a need and a demand in any industry, anyone who wants to should go after those jobs, be looked at as equals, and be given the opportunity to succeed in that job or career.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being valued by my customers for my dedication and knowledge in handling
Why do you think so few women are attracted to the field? Ideas for how to change that?
Any male-dominated field that isn’t considered a “job or career for a woman,” keeps qualified women from pursuing opportunities within that
field. As I said before, it’s all about changing the way we look at these industries and who is qualified and capable of doing these jobs/careers. It will help make everyone feel included when they pursue these opportunities.
What advice do you have for women/young girls thinking about a career in construction?
If it’s something you are interested in pursuing – then go for it – don’t let anything or anybody deter you from following your goals.
To read the rest this series, click here.