Encouraging diversity in the construction workforce
Global pipe joining solutions provider and construction productivity company Victaulic recently celebrated a major company milestone: 100 years of delivering innovative solutions. The Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer credits much of its 100 years success to its 4,000-plus employees, who not only work relentlessly to support Victaulic’s customers, but also encourage diversity of thought through initiatives that engage and advance women in construction, manufacturing, and STEM-related industries. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, women currently make up just 9.1 percent of the construction industry in the United States, but thanks to the work and passion of leading professionals, including Victaulic’s own Alaina Schwall and Theresa Clancy, the industry is embracing a more diverse workforce.
MEET ALAINA SCHWALL
Upon graduating from Purdue University in 2012 with a degree in aerospace engineering, Alaina Schwall transitioned between roles in the oil field and utility construction before arriving at Victaulic in 2018 as Fire Protection Group Leader in Application Engineering. “I was first drawn to work at Victaulic from the connections I had made through my participation in the national engineering sorority, Phi Sigma Rho,” Schwall says. “I advise young women to take full advantage of any opportunity they find to connect to alumnae in their field of interest, whether it be through a club, sorority or college career event. In my role as Regional Field Director for Phi Sigma Rho, I mentor others around how they can break into the field.”
Schwall’s work extends beyond leading Victaulic’s Fire Protection team. In her short time at the company, she has represented Victaulic at both the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Forum and the Lehigh Valley Women’s Summit. The former connects high school students with female professionals in science and engineering who can share advice on their experience in the industry and about pursuing degrees in STEM, while the Lehigh Valley Women’s Summit gathers a variety of influential women that are paving the way for others across business, philanthropy, government, education, and healthcare sectors. Schwall also regularly lends support to younger women who are looking to begin a career in engineering by offering to review their resumes and act a resource in their career development.
Schwall said she enjoys using Victaulic’s platform and influence to advocate for women in engineering. She often advises younger women to “acknowledge your worth and don’t be afraid to offer a perspective, regardless of your role and years of experience.” In addition, Schwall says, “I work with a supportive network of women both in and outside of Victaulic. This support has been crucial to my career development and I recommend all women find this support system to learn from and teach others in the field.”
MEET THERESA CLANCY
Theresa Clancy is another dedicated professional in Victaulic’s customer support network. In her role as a Controls and Actuation Sales Specialist, she works across departments to ensure product development aligns with customers’ needs. Clancy graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in communications before arriving at Victaulic in 2017. Clancy was attracted to Victaulic because of its commitment to innovation and continuously developing new products based on customer feedback. She shares customer insights within Victaulic and advises others on how to better serve their consumer base. Though she recognizes it can be intimidating to voice an idea or offer a new solution, she recommends all professionals should “approach each day as a new learning experience.”
“I advise young women to surround themselves with individuals who challenge you to think bigger,” Clancy says. “I constantly draw inspiration from the innovators at Victaulic, who pay close attention to market trends and always take customer feedback into consideration when creating a new product or pitching a new idea.” Clancy credits her colleagues and their commitment to challenging the standard way of thinking for ultimately driving the industry forward.
Clancy acknowledges that change is a long and difficult journey to accomplish, especially within construction, but the industry itself provides younger professionals with unique access to mentors who have spent decades working in the field. Clancy admires this aspect of construction and plans to utilize the wide network of mentors for years to come in her career. “You can benefit and learn a lot from a mentor,” she says. “Most professionals are eager to help you and share the tricks-of-the-trade with you. I have found several mentors at Victaulic who have helped me adjust to the pace of the industry and have had a tremendous impact on my career growth. I hope to be that mentor to others entering the field.”
Both Schwall and Clancy have benefitted from the support of professionals they’ve encountered throughout their careers, and they continue to foster these relationships regardless of their years of experience. Victaulic has provided both women with a network of motivated professionals and access to younger professionals for mentorship. The company participates in a variety of initiatives to inspire the next generation of talent to pursue careers in the industry, including career track programming, PA Dream Team, Scouts BSA “Explorer Post,” and the annual “Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls of the Lehigh Valley.” Schwall and Clancy believe that these programs are necessary for progression and building a diverse team.
For more information
This year Victaulic celebrates a century of innovation–100 years since it was granted its first industry patent for mechanical pipe joining solutions. On its Centennial ™Innoversary,∫ the company continues to develop and patent groundbreaking technologies, with a current portfolio of more than 2,000 patented solutions that transform the building and industrial construction industries. With more than 4,000 employees and 55 international facilities, Victaulic helps customers in more than 120 countries succeed in the global construction industry. For more, visit www.victaulic.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2019
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