Kelly Adams is a Construction professional with 18 years of experience. She is currently a Contract Compliance Specialist in Florida.
Can you explain your career path so far and what you enjoy about your work?
I gravitated to the industry from the get-go and have always been driven to advance my career. I started out in construction as a boots-on-the-ground Field Inspector Aide putting in long days and nights. That field experience from my earlier years has provided me with the ability to understand all aspects of a project, including how the administrative side of the business works.
Currently, I am a Contract Compliance Specialist. For those not familiar, my role is to serve as the project liaison between our clients and our project teams and ensure successful project delivery.
There are many aspects to construction that I find rewarding. In my particular role, working with so many people across different levels on a project is one of the things I find most rewarding.
What common characteristics have you seen among successful women in the industry?
It’s inspiring to see women in the industry who are willing to learn and work hard. But, I believe the biggest and most important is the ability to treat all team members as equals and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Successful people in the industry can use their team’s strengths to improve a project and are willing to step in and mentor to address weaknesses.
Have you had a mentor who has helped you in your career so far?
Over the years, I have had many mentors – both women and men. Every project has its unique challenges, and on each one, I have learned so much from my peers. Having a mentor is a huge part of succeeding because, in construction, having someone help you navigate the waters can make a world of difference. I have been lucky to work side by side with one of my mentors across multiple projects and multiple positions.
David DeBerardino, VP of Construction Services, played a huge part in my career growth in the last few years. He has advocated for me, and though he’s busy, he always makes time for his team.
In what ways has SAM supported your career growth since you’ve been here?
At SAM, I have felt supported in my professional development through mentorship and training. Our DOT projects require a lot of recertification, and leadership always makes sure that I am signed up and have access to the classes I need. I know if I said to my manager, “can you help me do this to help my career,” I get the support and encouragement I need.
Have you seen the industry change since you have been a part of it?
I’ve seen a lot more people commit to a construction career rather than a temporary job. In Florida especially, many people come into the industry during hurricane work as temporary workers, but more and more they have committed to staying and making a career in the industry.
How women are viewed in the industry has changed a lot too, and I think that’s a positive thing. It’s not your stereotypical men’s world anymore. There are more and more women coming into construction, doing strong work and staying in the industry.
What advice would you give to a woman who is looking to join the construction industry?
I would encourage women to get into the construction field. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself. The best thing you can do is to be prepared and commit to learning as much as you can. In the construction world, we have what we call our “bibles.” Many subject matters in the field have these books that are essential references. Know where to find the answer, work to understand the answer, and then convey what you want to say. By doing this, you’ll be able to support your views and build credibility.
That being said, I’ve learned more from my mentors than I could learn from any book, and finding a mentor is vital. Yes, civil engineering training or a degree will help, but nothing will substitute for real-life experience, and many people forget that. I see many people come in with technical knowledge but no practical knowledge to support it – so get experience and reach out to others who can help you build that experience.