The Best Man for the Job Isn’t Always a Man

The Best Man for the Job Isn’t Always a Man

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We asked our Project Manager, Emily Loewen, about the ins and outs of being a project manager. Here’s what she said:

1) What does a day-in-the-life look like for you?

A typical day starts with calls to the contractors to make sure they know where they are working that day and if there are any needs from me for them to do their job. Then I start my rounds to the properties to check in on everyone. We discuss the plan for the day and help resolve any issues that arise. Normally sprinkled throughout the day are trips to grab materials from Lowes/Home Depot and vendor meetings as well. Normally I end the day making updates to our project budgets and planning for the next day. 

 2) What challenges have you faced?

The main challenge I’ve faced is the obvious one of being a female in a male dominated industry. Getting the contractors and vendors to take me seriously and talk to me over Josh (our Operations Manager) has definitely been a challenge. It has also been a challenge to assist them in understanding that I am the boss on the job site, and not just a secretary or assistant. 

3) Do you believe being female has influenced any aspects of your job as far as how you’re treated, or the way others communicate with you? 

This is echoed in the challenges I’ve faced. It has definitely influenced the way I am treated by our contractors and vendors. I will say after almost 2 years in this job it has finally gotten to the point where they have begun treating me like a boss/equal, depending on the person. There are still a handful that won’t talk to me directly. However I believe that it is more of a cultural thing, or a comfort-level thing that should hopefully get better with time. It’s also interesting because while they will shoot the breeze (so to speak) with Josh, they normally talk a little more formally to me since I am female. 

4) What advice do you have for those just starting out in project management? 

I would say best advice I have is to find a mentor and read up on education. That helped me the most when I was just getting started.

5) Which practices do you utilize to set yourself up for success?

I am very organized so I live and die by my calendar and scheduling important deadlines and activities there. I also recently implemented a project management tracking system called into our business. This system helps me keep track of where our projects are at, and what tasks are upcoming along. It is also great for keeping the rest of the team in the loop on what is going on. 

6) What is your favorite aspect of project management? 

My favorite aspect has always been the opportunity to work with clients/people and being able to watch a project go from start to finish. Especially when at the start of a project it may seem that there is no way to really turn around a run down house that may have once been a hoarder home. It is quite rewarding watching it all come together throughout the project and change from broken to brand new. 

7) What do you wish people knew about project management? 

I wish people knew that it is an option for a career first and foremost. I graduated with a degree in Marketing and Sports Management. Then when I started my first job in healthcare IT, I ended up moving into a project manager role. At the time, I didn’t realize that project management was even a career option. I learned so much in that first role, soon found my love for project management, and never looked back! 

8) What are some skills needed in order to succeed in the field? Are there any specific areas of knowledge that have proven helpful? 

Skills needed to succeed: 1) organization is definitely a must 2) finding what works best for you and the company to manage the project overall whether that be a computer system, excel spreadsheet, etc. 3) and the ability to manage clients/vendors/employees. 

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