I had the immense pleasure of attending Groundbreaking Women in Construction (GWIC) last week in San Francisco, Calif. The theme for this premier leadership conference was “Be Inspired. Feel Empowered. Get Connected.” I did just that – along with over 700 other attendees!
GWIC is about helping women expand their presence and influence in a traditionally male-dominated industry, so it was only natural that we heard from some amazing female leaders. The opening keynote featured Nancy Bray, Director of Spaceport Integration and Services at NASA. She spoke about the upcoming Artemis launch, which will put the first woman and first person of color on the moon. Artemis will be the most powerful rocket we’ve ever seen. Truly iconic.
But how is that related to a women’s construction conference? Well, this mammoth undertaking couldn’t happen without precision planning, design and construction. From launch pads, paved runways, emergency egress systems, flame trenches and fuel storage tanks, construction is at every turn. And behind the scenes are some of the most skilled women (and men) who help make it happen.
As Nancy stated in her keynote, “It is women who are taking us to the moon and beyond.”
We also heard stories about change and agility, specifically about how COVID-19 transformed the AEC workplace, how changes in the economy and in politics require organizations to be nimble, how to better engage with and serve communities where projects are being done and how to put a healthy focus on diversity, equity and inclusion within our businesses.
The closing keynote of day one came from Lara Poloni, President of AECOM. Lara shared the story of her nearly 30-year career and how she rose to become AECOM’s first female president. While her story was nothing short of inspirational, so was her vision for the future. She spoke about how creating sustainable legacies create a better world for everyone today and for future generations to come.
There were so many incredible stories of how women are making a difference in the construction industry and leading the way for others. GWIC definitely stayed true to its theme this year; I came back inspired by success, empowered to make a change and connected with a massive network of intelligent construction professionals.