After starting her degree in Architecture from Universidad de Monterrey and wanting to leave home to continue her education in Architecture and Construction Science and Management in the United States, Martinez landed an internship at Skanska in 2017.
No two journeys are the same. Different starting points; different destinations. And almost certainly, different obstacles along the way.
For Monica Martinez, her journey in the construction world started in Mexico. It has led her to a promising career at Skanska, but her final destination is most certainly yet to be determined.
While Martinez said she is now "living her dream," getting to this point has not always been easy.
"I don't want people to think that it is not challenging," Martinez said of assimilating in the world of construction. "Being a Hispanic woman in the construction world is a challenge. The majority of the workforce is male, but I believe that being a woman in this industry is actually beneficial."
As an assistant project manager of Skanska, Martinez is going through her pregnancy journey while working on a construction project and she encourages other women planning to start a family to continue to work in construction.
"My project team and our San Antonio office have been very supportive throughout my pregnancy. It is an exciting time and sometimes it can be overwhelming but Skanska has the resources to guide me through every step and to plan my parental leave and return-to-work".
"There are a lot of benefits of women pursuit a career in construction. You are always on the move – always looking for solutions…always challenging yourself. Walking next to a building and knowing that you were a part of its construction process is so fulfilling. People are living and working in buildings that you've constructed. That's an amazing feeling."
The trek from childhood in Mexico to a promising career with Skanska in San Antonio had the potential to be fraught with challenges – both figuratively and literally, but the young Assistant Project Manager viewed it as a pathway toward an eventual goal.
Martinez was always around construction in her early years. Her dad is a builder and her siblings have careers in Civil Engineering, Architecture and design and she never dreamed of being anything but being a Construction Manager and Architect in the commercial sector. She also is working on starting to build a house on the side as investment. After starting her degree in Architecture from Universidad de Monterrey and wanting to leave home to continue her education in Architecture and Construction Science and Management in the United States, Martinez landed an internship at Skanska in 2017.
The following year she was brought on full time and has been "living that dream," ever since.
Finding a Niche
"As an Assistant Project Manager," Martinez said "every day is different. I'm responsible for many financial aspects of a job. Contract management, supervision of Project Engineers and Interns, change order negotiation, project status and financial reports, material procurement tracking, document control, cost management and meetings, lots of meetings.
"Women are good at assessing the risk to reward ratio as well as possessing good time management in most cases," she said.
But one aspect of her job is likely to be a major focus going forward.
Martinez is an FAA certified drone pilot and is using that skill to train other drone pilots at Skanska. That competency has proven to be a valuable asset to Skanska, who Martinez said has been very supportive of her interest in cutting edge construction solutions.
"I've been a huge advocate for technology since I've been at Skanska," she said, "and I really believe the sky is the limit for technology in construction.
"Skanska is constantly looking for emerging technologies to be used across multiple departments, and we have an internal network within the company where I can communicate with other Skanska folks to exchange ideas on different technology uses," she added.
In addition to flying drones in different job sites and for project pursuits, Martinez has been trained and certified in infrared technology and she has gained knowledge and experience in 360-degree cameras, laser scanning, BIM coordination ("Building Information Modeling"), virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and other applications in order to gather up-to-date information through data collection to improve processes and the company operational strategy.
Making Her Mark in San Antonio
Among the visible results of Martinez's work in San Antonio is the St. Philip's College of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts, a project she was involved in from start to finish and where she used a variety of interesting technology tools to alleviate construction challenges and to enhance productivity. The project includes seven commercial grade kitchens, classrooms, a café, dining room. pastry shop and lecture hall for culinary training.
Martinez said it was very satisfying to work on a project from reviewing bid proposals and signing up subcontractors to site prep to finish work, an opportunity that does not arise often in the construction world.
The school is one of several higher education projects she has worked on in and around San Antonio.
Women in Construction
A conversation with Martinez revealed two passions. She is clearly passionate about her career and construction in general, but she may be even more zealous about the future of women in her chosen profession.
"There is a need for women in construction," she emphasized. "We need to have more women among our leaders and Skanska is working on taking measures to increase the number of women in construction by offering resources and encourage them to look beyond challenges."
Ever since joining Skanska, Martinez has noticed an exponential growth in women joining construction. All of the Skanska's San Antonio projects has at least one woman working on their project teams, which used to be rare in the industry.
She offered some advice for young women that may be putting aside their interest in construction in favor of more traditional career tracks.
"Don't worry about what other people want for you," she said. "Fulfill yourself as a person and the rest will work out. Attach yourself to the right people. Sponsors are very important. I've had several at Skanska, some of whom ended up nominating me for positions in leadership. We need leaders to invite other women to the industry, and them bringing more to the table." CEG
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