Who's Who Women in Business


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38 MWC Board of Directors. From left: Alyssa Malenchak (Estimator, Bird Construction), Sharon Malenki (Finance & Administration Manager, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.), Ellowyn Nadeau (Instructor, Red River College), Kayla Gervais (Project Coordinator, Bockstael Construction Ltd.), Soo Lee (Project Manager, Marwest Construction Ltd.), Carla Larabie (Quality Assurance Manager, Concord Projects Ltd.), Amanda North (Team Leader, Construction Service, Defence Construction Canada), Jessica Wagner (HR Manager, Bockstael Construction Ltd.) Missing: Teri Urban (Health & Safety Manager, Parkwest Projects Ltd.), Kelly Thiessen (Manager Member Services, Winnipeg Construction Association), Tammy Ducharme (Project Coordinator, Bornhorst Mechanical Inc.), Sheena Braun (Controller, Westland Construction Ltd.), Dominika Fryca (Project Coordinator, Construction Safety Association of Manitoba). PHOTO BY DARCY FINLEY Build it and they will come — in droves. When the Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA) spearheaded an initiative to recruit, retain and support women in the industry, the response was overwhelmingly positive. "The WCA included an invitation for women to form our Manitoba Women in Construction Board of Directors in their newsletter and magazine, and a boardroom of women showed up with enthusiasm and determination," says Soo Lee, Chair of Manitoba Women in Construction (MWC). "The rest is history!" Just five years later, MWC has 622 members — about one-third of whom joined in the last year alone. "That's phenomenal," says Vice-Chair Ellowyn Nadeau. "The women in our industry needed something to bring them together so they could feel supported, so that they feel they have a home in construction. I'm still a little bit surprised at the number, and I'm sure there are more out there. But you're not alone now and I think that feeling of community has really struck home for a lot of people." Membership is free and all-encompassing, connecting labourers, lawyers, engineers, carpenters, project managers, safety consultants, accountants, estimators and more. MWC Past-Chair Teri Urban says having a vast network of women to call upon is the greatest benefit. Members can tap into different areas of expertise, bounce ideas off one another, share advice and provide mutual support. Employers are seeing benefits, as well. They recognize that increased diversity will help to address skills gaps and an expected labour shortage in the industry, and that MWC is helping to build long-term success for women. MWC hosts professional development events and the group is working on a mentorship model. Along with developing negotiation skills and assertiveness, Nadeau says building self-confidence is key. "When you have self-confidence, you have the ability to say, 'I did that, and I did it well,' " Nadeau says. "That's really where MWC can help the younger generation — giving them that support network, giving them a few pointers on how to develop that self- confidence early." Safety Manager and partner in general contracting company Parkwest Projects Ltd., Urban has been in the industry for more than 20 years, and Lee and Nadeau have each logged more than 25 years in a variety of leadership roles. Nadeau is currently an instructor in the Construction Management Degree Program at Red River College, and Lee is Project Manager for Marwest Construction Ltd. One of MWC's goals is to engage more young women and spread the word that construction offers many rewarding career options. "You can make a great living, support your family and enjoy more flexibility than ever before," Nadeau says. Urban says there's great satisfaction in being able to drive around town and say, "Hey, I built that." She adds that people often don't realize construction offers careers that allow women to use skills like strategic thinking, organization and communication – not to mention teamwork. "I think that's why MWC has been so successful. We've worked really well as a team since we started, and that's why we've accomplished so much in such a short period of time," she says. "It's a great group of women who all share collective goals and we've worked very hard and well as a team." ❚ building success for women CREATING A FOUNDATION OF SUPPORT IN CONSTRUCTION Learn more about MWC online at mbwomeninconstruction.com, on Twitter and Instagram (@mwc_build) and at Facebook.com/ womeninconstruction. MANITOBA WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION

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