The construction industry is not just for men anymore. The industry is changing. Construction jobs are growing in complexity and scale with an increasing focus on technology and techniques to streamline processes, improve safety and enhance worker productivity, which requires a more diverse set of skills. As a result, we’re seeing more diversity on project teams. Some companies are embracing this change, and have established resource groups to help women make connections, share ideas and have the confidence they need to thrive and lead. Skanska, a leading global construction and development company, is one such company.
Skanska Women’s Network (SWN) is an employee resource group focused on retaining and developing women in the industry. It promotes and supports a gender-inclusive culture that enables everyone to be better together. It provides professional development and a forum in which women can share experiences and influence the company. Networking events are open to all employees, both men and women, with a focus on understanding each other’s perspective and promoting equal opportunity and development. Through education and engagement to build gender-inclusive workplaces and advocating for positive change in policies and practices, the SWN helps to create new possibilities not only for personal growth, but for Skanska as well.
I recently sat down with three of our local SWN members to talk about how they got started in the field and how SWN has played a role in their career.
Clare De Briere, executive vice president for commercial development operations in Los Angeles, wanted to be an architect. As a UCLA student, she discovered a passion for developing and the ability to change people’s daily lives with what she built. She joined Skanska in July 2018 with more than 20 years of experience. Prior to joining Skanska, she was executive vice president and chief operating officer at The Ratkovich Company where she oversaw the acquisition, entitlement, planning, development and disposition of millions of square feet of developments, including The Hercules Campus in Playa Vista and The Bloc in downtown Los Angeles. When coming to Skanska, Clare wasted no time getting involved with SWN. “I’m passionate about the opportunity to mentor women interested in moving up in the company and within the industry,” she said. Sponsored by SWN, she meets with her mentee regularly to talk about current work programs, career aspirations, as well as participating in project tours. Her mentee is a mentor to another woman on Clare’s team, providing a full circle system of support and encouragement.
Kyran Martin, senior project engineer in Los Angeles, grew up following her father around job sites where he worked as a handyman. She thought about studying architecture, but found her passion and majored in construction engineering at University of New Mexico. Kyran wanted to be hands-on, involved more in the building process, and contributing to a community. In her time at Skanska, Kyran has worked on major healthcare projects, such as Riverside Community Hospital and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. Kyran joined Skanska in 2012 as an intern and has been involved with SWN since 2015, where she has played an integral role in the development of the Los Angeles program as the chair of Southern California and also serves on the national steering committee.
“The biggest benefit of being a part of a group like this is the connection to resources, such as mentoring, skills training, panel discussion, and networking,” said Kyran.
Shannon Tynan, field engineer in Los Angeles, was also interested in design and architecture. It was during a 2012 Skanska summer internship that she discovered a passion for building and being able to be hands-on and involved with a team through site visits and discussions to bring that design vision to life. Shannon’s work has focused on the transportation field, having worked on the Expo Phase 2 project and now the 6th Street Viaduct replacement project. Shannon joined SWN in 2014 as a field champion, and became more active in 2015 when she led Lean In Circles. Since then, she has been the Southern California program chair. Currently pursuing her MBA, she remains active in the group.
“I really value the resources and programs for women at Skanska,” Shannon said. “And, I appreciate the outreach and community events SWN hosts.”
Each of these women believe in the value of a group like SWN to the larger construction and development industry, and praise the resources it provides. They strongly support the growth within the industry and the hope that diversity continues to be a focus and resources like Skanska Women’s Network become fully imbedded in all companies.
“We welcome women and value their skills and abilities,” said Raul Rosales, Skanska executive vice president and general manager. “We value diversity and inclusion and we work to help all our employees succeed in this exciting and dynamic industry.”
Ellen Mair is Skanska’s Director of Business Development. Learn more at Skanska.com.