In honor of International Women’s Day & Women in Construction Week, we spent some time with our very own Haley Mahar, VP of Preconstruction, to learn more about her background, inspiration and perspective on the industry.
Q. Did you always know you wanted to be in the construction industry?
A. My first experience with building and design was when I was eight and thought I wanted to be a vet. I designed and drew out the entire veterinary hospital that I wanted to run using colored paper and pencils. Looking back, that was definitely a sign!
Q. What inspires you to do what you do?
A. I love creating spaces that change the way that people interact with the world around them. Taking what used to be a piece of dirt and turning it into a home, a place where many people find comfort, or a new restaurant, where you can share an experience with friends. To me, it’s all about the teamwork it takes to build a building and then the satisfaction of turning over a building that really positively influences the way the client, or patrons, live.
Q. While participation is growing, women represent a fraction of the construction industry, and it continues to be a male dominated industry. How has that impacted your career or perspective? What changes would you like to see in the future?
A. I feel super lucky that throughout my career, I have always felt supported by my managers and colleagues. With that being said, being a female in a male-dominated field does present obstacles. It can be frustrating to feel ignored or undervalued at the beginning of a meeting, written off by my appearance as not being someone with authority, before someone in the room realizes that I’m actually the one making the decisions. However, I’m inspired more and more every day with women taking on roles in the industry, especially the women who are working in the field as superintendents and project engineers. Being in the field is a hard job as it is, and even harder when you’re the only female on an all-male jobsite. My hope is that the industry is really starting to move towards a place where all voices are heard and listened to, equally.
Q. Is there anything specific in your leadership role at New West that you would like to achieve specifically related to women in the industry?
A. I hope that I can use my leadership role to inspire confidence in my female colleagues at New West. It’s critically important to me that females working in construction are empowered to speak up, and that comfortable asking questions if they don’t know the answer. I also hope that my new position, and the number of interactions I have with clients and trade partners, helps normalize seeing women in leadership roles in construction, which are few and far between right now.