WIC WEEK 2020 | March 2 – 6

Women in Construction

Welcome to Women In Construction Week

The first week of March is Women in Construction (WIC) Week. It is meant to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry, to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry.

At Clayco, our culture is focused on building more than structures. We believe in building communities. One of the communities we are excited to support and help grow is the community of women within our industry. From providing equal opportunity for all, to providing opportunities and mentorship for women-owned business, we are always excited to see our field become more diverse and inclusive.

Women in Clayco

For WIC Week, we sent out a questionnaire to some of the women in our enterprise hoping they would share their experiences with us as a way to spotlight their roles and successes. We also hope their responses will offer some insight to women curious about entering the industry.

Lourdes Ramirez

Senior Assistant Superintendent, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    3 1/2 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I started my career in construction while studying at Iowa State University. I obtained my first internship with Clayco and I was shipped 17 hours away from my hometown Des Moines, IA. I was fortunate enough to return for a second internship with Clayco in St. Louis, MO and I was eventually was hired on full time once I graduated.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    I would advise other women in construction to find a mentor or mentors that they can learn from. Mentorship has played a great impact within my career and I have learned that in order to get the most out of any situation, you must be willing to learn from anyone, regardless of their gender.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Not receiving the same level of respect or lack of acknowledgment out in the field. This tends to happen more often with older generations in the trades.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    One of my favorite hobbies includes going to St. Louis Blues or Cardinal games.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love to travel. I recently got back from Mexico and Jamaica before that.

Kelly VanBoldrikt

Assistant Project Manager, Ventana
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    3 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    Ventana was growing quickly at the start of my career in this industry. They were seeking out smart, hardworking individuals that wanted to learn the ins and outs of a unique but vital component of the construction industry. I jumped to the opportunity and very thankful I did.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Don’t give up. Work hard and learn from those around you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s okay to not always know the right answer, just know who you can turn to for that information. Work in an environment where your co-workers/managers want to see you succeed. I feel fortunate that my team (who I also view as leaders) have made me feel as though they truly do not see gender. Finally, always be confident, but more importantly, resilient.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    More likely than not, any meeting I attend will be male dominated. That alone can be intimidating. It’s the constant reminder to be confident in my abilities and know that my input is valued and respected in the boardroom and in the field. Confidence matters just as much as competence and knowing that I can do the same work as the person next to me will go a long way in this industry.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I enjoy traveling to new cities to see live music concerts.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love Thai food & Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is my favorite book.

Amy Luchun

Principal, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    23 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I started at a traditional Architecture firm in St. Louis. After realizing that it took 3 years of designing and re-designing without seeing a building get built, I realized that I wanted to work in a different way.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always take the opportunities given as they may not come around again.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Being a great mother and wife at home while also striving to be a strong mentor and teacher in the industry.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I’m a competitive person by nature so I love to watch my kids play sports on the weekends and watch them improve throughout the season. Last year I got sick of sitting on the bench, so I challenged myself to compete in a minimum 3 running events in St. Louis. I not only achieved my goal but also improved my time at every event while still enjoying the event and having fun.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I wanted to become an architect because I grew up watching Green Acres and it drove me crazy that they lived with holes in their house. Silly right?

Tika Schmidt

Associate, Real Estate Operations, CRG
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    21 years (with Clayco a total of 9 years. (2007-2010) (2014-present)
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I began my career with The Jones Company (Residential Home Builder)
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    To keep pushing yourself and challenging yourself on a daily basis. Never settle and continue to strive to gain more knowledge about the industry. If you are in a certain position, try to learn roles of other people and always ask questions and learn from other people’s experience in order to make yourself more valuable to your company.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Keeping up with a full time career when I was a single mom of two small children.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I serve as a director on the board of NAWIC Chapter 38, I started a dog treat company called Treats to Woof About 3 years ago as a side gig and added another side gig called Jewelry by Tika.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I was adopted from India when I was two and raised in a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, German family.

Lindsay Webb

Designer, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    6 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    In college I worked at a women-owned lighting design firm.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Seek out others, ask questions, listen, learn. Don’t get worn down.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Being taken seriously.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I love being outside, doing puzzles, and running with my dog. Outside of work, I enjoy meeting with students and understanding how architectural curriculums are evolving.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I am an Australian dual-citizen.

Shannon Kendall

Creative and Proposal Manager, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    5 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    It’s been an interesting journey… I got my Bachelor’s in Architecture because I’ve always been fascinated by the built world. After school, I worked for a residential interior designer and when she decided to take some time off, I found myself in an executive assistant position at Clayco. They just happened to place me close to the marketing department. I fell in love with anything and everything Clayco Marketing and about 2 years after I started as an assistant, they adopted me!
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Be flexible. The industry is constantly changing and you have to be ready and willing to adapt.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    The biggest challenge for me personally was finding my niche. I knew how passionate I was about architecture and design, but I wasn’t quite fulfilled in my work. My current role is constantly evolving and always throwing something new my way – I am constantly learning and that is where I thrive.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    Outside of work I love going to yoga, camping/floating/hiking, but most of all I love concerts and music festivals.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I grew up right down the street from Clayco and as a kid we’d pass this building all the time. I will never forget going by at night, seeing the Clayco sign all lit up and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool to work there someday?”

Shelby Kroeger

Associate Principal, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    19 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    It was a non-linear career path. I was a website programmer and lost my job days before Thanksgiving as a result of the dot com crash in 2000. I was struggling to land a new job and reached out to a few local temp agencies. They called and said, we’ve got a perfect position at a creative firm. Without asking too many questions, I quickly accepted, and they said, the firm is called Gensler, and the rest is history.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Never wait around for the perfect job to appear; instead, tailor your role by building on your skills, interests, and what you enjoy doing, and the rest will sort itself out.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    My biggest challenge is balancing between differing design opinions and marketing needs for multiple markets and sectors while working within one brand to deliver distinctive and necessary company marketing deliverables daily.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    Outside of work, I enjoy taking photos—images of still life, portraits, landscapes. Instagram is my jam. I even advance my portrait skills by photographing friends and their families for their annual holiday cards. Also, In the summer you’ll find me in the garden. I’ve been nurturing my tiny shade garden for the last three years and have been steadfast in trying to grow a blooming hydrangea. Summer of 2019, I was finally successful.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love to drive, and if I ever won the lottery, I would become a formula one driver.

Madeline Smith

Sustainable Development Manager, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    4.5 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    Started my career as an intern with Clayco supporting internal sustainable initiatives.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Support one another!
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    First perception on site – being confident and outgoing helps alleviate that quickly.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I enjoy hiking, yoga and spending time with the pets in my family [Louis, Little, Pink, Milly]. I support the Missouri APA and am a trained dog walker.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    French was one of my two majors in college. I interned at the Richmond French Film Festival, the largest in the United States.

Stephanie Lloyd

Project Superintendent, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    20 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    Started working as a laborer for a residential home builder.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Work hard, show ambition and don’t second guess yourself.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Being a woman in this industry can be challenging. I’ve experienced a lot of people assuming my background is strictly from schooling, therefore not having any experience or understanding of construction, when in fact most of my background came from working as a laborer for many years and performing physical work.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    My hobbies are reading, working out and boxing.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I’m a huge animal lover! I love my doggies!

Sarah Doriani

Senior Associate, LJC
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    13 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    In 4th grade I decided that I’d be an interior designer when I grew up. As I shared this pursuit with anyone who would listen, those in the industry spoke up and made themselves available to ask questions, facilitate firm tours, connect to job shadows, and assign me grunt work to get a peek into the design world.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Speak up! Say yes to opportunities, don’t wait for the ideal experience to come to you. It takes a lot of time to build a broad range of skills, so start wherever you are. Let people know that you want to participate.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    People are quick to ask, “what’s your specialty?” It’s been important to me to be well rounded with experience in lots of different types of projects, rather than jumping into one field. Every client is the expert in a unique field. I feel it is an incredible honor to get to know their world before designing a space for them.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I love to draw. Illustrating a simple moment or amusing idea is a great source of personal energy and balance. I used to keep my work tasks and drawing practice separate (with the notion that the computer was the tool for work). Now I know that my first round of ideas come from a hand and pen connection. The best ways to flush out a design is to sketch first, the computer comes later.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I can clap….. to a tune.

Dirce Milchorena

Construction Administrator, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    Over 15 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    My mom got me to intern with an Engineering and Construction company in Illinois when I was in High School. I really liked the networking and hands-on experience I had during my internship. Therefore, I decided to pursue an open position in the Document Control department and I have been traveling to different power plants and nuclear plants to work in Records Management and support Project Engineering ever since.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Back when I started working in construction and engineering I felt awkward because of the male/female ratio. Throughout the years, I have gained trust from my peers and I became valuable in the companies I have worked for. I would hope other women get inspired by experiences like mine and see that you can be confident and be proud in this field.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    I have felt intimidated by my project managers because of how they would treat me and I wondered if they would judge me right away, but a lot of my peers and managers respected me because of my knowledge and that’s why I have been working on this industry for so long.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    Currently, I am not formally doing anything for the community, but I used to volunteer at an animal shelter in South Carolina. I used to volunteer Saturdays and Sundays to come in and spend time with the kittens to make sure they had food, water and someone to play with for a couple of hours. I also like to work out when I have the time. A few weeks ago, I finished a cycle bar 30-day challenge, I didn’t do it for 30 days straight, but I went for it and I loved it. I will be signed up for another set soon.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I love cooking. Every day I look forward to coming home and cooking dinner for my family. Also, I have taken a few classes to learn different foods. My fiancé and I are currently on the “keto” diet so we have been trying new recipes.

Linda Baides

Procurement Administrator, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    6 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I started out in the IT department handling ways to save and manage mobility cost thru the company. I then began assisting everyone with mobile devices and handling all new hire on-boarding. I now have moved on to CDC, where I procure several scopes of work to the Clayco jobsites amongst other roles.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Support one another, cheer on your peers! Be an advocate for each other!
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Biggest challenges I have faced have been working for a male dominated department as well as finding balance between being a mother and wife at home while still striving to succeed in my department. Another challenge has been coming from no construction background and learning it as I go, I am thankful to have great mentors willing to teach at Clayco.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I enjoy walks around the park, and chasing after my boy and soon a little girl as well.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I am fluent in English & Spanish. I also took 4 years of French in High School.

Faith Feng

Technology Integration Manager, Clayco
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    5 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I had architectural education on three continents for almost eight years and it was without a doubt that I wanted to be an architect right out of school.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Leonardo Da Vinci did not paint without knowing human anatomy, Coco Chanel did not become a renowned fashion designer without knowing how to sew. Designers should not limit themselves to only creating beautiful images but striving to create better projects by learning from engineers, consultants and construction teams.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Knowing that I have so much to learn from design, construction and technology is not only a challenge but also a motivation to push me to learn more and ask more questions.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I like reading, running and playing the piano. I am running my first half marathon this year.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I am a leading actress in a Sci-Fi podcast Transmissions from Colony One.

Christy Steward

Senior Construction Administrator, Concrete Strategies
  • How long have you been in the industry?
    15 years
  • How did you start your career in design/construction/real estate?
    I worked at a glass block company.
  • What advice do you have for other women in the industry?
    Always ask questions.
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
    Making sure my voice is heard. Being taken seriously.
  • What are you involved in outside of work? Hobbies? Charities?
    I have volunteered at The Salvation Army and Stray Rescue. I like reading books.
  • Fun Fact about you?
    I enjoy building LEGO sets with my daughter.

Other Clayco Initiatives

Bring a Girl to Clayco

Clayco NOW and CREW Network helped begin the annual April event of Bring a Girl to Clayco Day. Bring a Girl to Clayco Day is a day to mentor girls and introduce them to careers in commercial real estate, construction, operations, BIM, architecture, design, marketing, graphic design, finance and more.

We hope to inspire the next generation of leaders by inviting them to participate in our daily work schedule to educate them about careers and how each role contributes to the overall success for the company and the communities they serve.

ClaycoNOW

Empowering women both personally and professionally.

Our mission is to increase female leadership in the design, construction and real estate development industry. We connect, enable, and engage with women and communities across all areas of the industry to develop, impact and transform the culture from the inside out by investing in women.

Our guiding goals are to provide an environment that creates the opportunity for real connections that empower women both personally and professionally, build awareness and break down gender bias, and have a measurable impact on our projects, competitors, partners, clients, employees and communities.