Interview by Jaziel Chavez, NHEO Institute Corporate Communications.
Please tell us your name, role, and your background.
Vicky Aviles, acting Environmental Project Manager/Principal at Western Techologies Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona.
How did you get involved in construction?
I was in college to become an educator when a friend introduced me to the OSHA regulations and asked me to accompany him on a project for mechanical conversion at a veteran’s medical center. I was intrigued.
Why did you choose this profession?
I loved the combination of field and office work and the excitement of investigation when it came to identifying potential hazards in the workplace.
Would you say it’s more difficult to start a career in construction for women than it is for men?
It used to be. I think there’s many more opportunities for women now in construction than ever before. Thank goodness!!
What are some of the biggest challenges that you think women face in the construction industry?
One of the biggest challenges I face being a woman in a man’s work world was being treated as an equal and taken seriously. I had to harden myself and stand up for my opinions. Overtime I felt the respect of my male counterparts- having proved my capabilities and skills.
Do you think the number of women in construction will increase in the future?
Yes. I think women are generally becoming more interested in construction, sustainability, environmental, and design. And it’s my opinion that women now really believe they can be anything they wish to be. The construction industry gives women the opportunity to be creative, get dirty, use their minds, and work outdoors.
What are your recommendations for other women and NHEO Institute members?
My recommendation to other women wishing to work in the construction/environmental industry is simple – just do it! Lean from your male counterparts but do not shy away from being inquisitive and outspoken. Especially learn from your female mentors for the information they can provide you from their experiences is most valuable! Women have amazing ideas on how to do things different (different solutions and approaches); do not be afraid to share.
What is something that surprises people about you?
I notice when family, friends or acquaintances visit me the first time at my office that they look at me differently afterwards. At work I manage a fairly large environmental team with mostly males. Only 5-6 persons I deal with on a daily basis are women and many of them are administrative assistance, although we are seeing this change.
My task include marketing, bringing in projects, staff assignment, training, technical writing, peer/senior review of reports, project design and scheduling, project oversight and budgeting, final close-out documentation, and billing (in a nutshell).
So it does surprise people who only know me as a kind and loving mother and grandmother –
who does all the wonderful grandmotherly things for her family to a strong and powerful, well
I absolutely love the work I do and would not change a thing if offered! The construction/environmental industry has taught me so many life lessons.
About Western Technologies:
Western Technologies is an engineering consulting firm specializing in Geotechnical Engineering, Environmental Consulting Services, Construction Materials Testing, Nondestructive Testing, Special Inspection, and Welding Inspection Since inception in 1955, Western Technologies has grown to become a nationally recognized firm, with over 300 employees and 12 full-service offices located throughout the southwestern United States.