Employee Spotlight: Lisa Riggs

March 10, 2023

Lisa Riggs is a Project Analyst in our Austin, Texas office. She started her career at SAM-CS in October 2018 as a Billing Specialist. She was promoted to Project Analyst in 2020 and helps develop tools and templates for teams throughout the company which allow our crews to capture and provide spatial data to our clients that no other firm in Texas can provide.

Can you explain your career path so far, and what you enjoy about your work?

Prior to SAM, I have a background in Management and Project Management at a vendor for late-stage commercial building construction, maintenance coordination for long-term sustainability of installations, and with managing the billing team that invoiced said installations and maintenance.

When I joined SAM, my goal was to get back into Operations, but it was the recent billing experience that initially got me recruited. Sam Watson was the Operations Manager for all my projects when I was a Billing Specialist and I shared with him my goal to return to Operations. We discussed my experience and how that could contribute to CS Operations, so as SAM-CS grew and with it the need for additional support, Sam had the Project Analyst position created to utilize my understanding of the industry, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) requirements, and our billing software.

There is so much that I enjoy about what I do. I get to build relationships with people across the company, I have my ideal mix of consistency and change, my job requires the use of both my technical and creative sides, and with every big project I work on, I get to push the limits of my knowledge and figure out how to expand my skills more and more.

What common characteristics have you seen among successful women in the industry?

Successful women in the construction industry are confident in their abilities while willing to listen to others’ ideas, effective communicators, strong problem solvers, and they have to be comfortable being the only woman in the room since women make up only 11% of the construction industry.

Have you had a mentor who has helped you in your career so far?

I’ve had some great mentors who taught me a lot about leadership, conflict resolution, and how to market my strengths to forge a path if one hasn’t already been paved by someone else. Within SAM-CS, I consider Sam Watson a mentor because when I was in the Accounting department because he would lend an ear when I needed to talk through a problem and would advise me if I couldn’t find a solution. And now I work for him, so that worked out well.

Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on? Why was it special?

I worked with a group of CS engineers (Greg Cleveland, Zeke Zieschang, and Jennifer Moore) to develop the SAM-CS Scheduling Form our inspectors use in the field. I enjoyed the collaboration on the design and function, but it was my job to figure out how to make it all work. It was the most complicated tool I had developed to date and it introduced me to the wonderful world of macros. As a result, I’ve now made a number of templates for myself and other employees that simplifies a few days’ worth of work into a few minutes by way of an easy button.

In what ways has SAM supported your career growth since you’ve been here? 

SAM-CS recognized the value I bring and created a new job for me, designed around my strengths, skills, and interests. The role continues to provide opportunities for intellectual and professional growth. I get to work on projects that challenge me, test my abilities, and push me to continually learn and adapt.

What advice would you give to a woman who is looking to join the construction industry?

Remember that the construction industry has a wide array of jobs, so evaluate your strengths and what you enjoy doing. As with any career field, you might not land your dream job on Day 1, but don’t underestimate the value of a foot in the door. This will open up opportunities to learn more about different roles you might not realize exist and will connect you with the people who are doing what you want to do. Ask a lot of questions and seek out people who would rather partner with you than compete against you. Long-term success requires continuous learning and teamwork, so connect with people who want to grow together.