Kierstin Beaumont spent eight years as a Project Manager before transitioning to her role as Manager of Project Controls Systems, in which she promotes more efficient project management workflows via new tools and software.

March 8, 2023

Construction-Adjacent Fields Offer Wide Variety of Career Opportunity

Whether it's preconstruction, safety, or controls systems, 'There are so many parts and pieces that go with it, and we need everyone contributing.'


Editor’s note: This year’s Women in Construction Week theme, “Many Paths, One Mission,” is exemplified in today’s edition of our weeklong series, which focuses on career opportunities that are adjacent and crucial to the industry.

When people think of construction, they tend to think of laborers swinging hammers and operating heavy machinery. They often fail to consider the planning, coordination and operations that make multimillion-dollar capex projects happen.

Whether it’s preconstruction and estimating, project controls, administration or safety and quality coordination, Haskell has hundreds of positions in fields critical to its mission of providing clients with world-class solutions. visited with women in three such careers, each with her own unique experiences and perspective that illustrate the many opportunities available to women in construction today.

Shari Lupardus

Shari Lupardus | A Passion for Safety

Project Safety Coordinator Shari Lupardus hails from West Virginia. Her job is to create and implement plans to keep workers safe on the job, but she hasn’t always worked in construction. Lupardus started her career as a small business owner making furniture from reclaimed materials until a stroke of luck helped her finance her professional development.

“A piece of my furniture ended up with someone that works in our state capitol,” she said. “I got a phone call from a representative who said, how can we help you grow your business? I said, if you want to help me, you can pay for my training, and that’s how I got started with the training.”

Soon after, Lupardus sold her business and switched to a job that would give her experience more relevant to her career plan. “I started working as a union laborer because I love the outdoors, and it was just a fit,” said Shari.

As a union laborer, Lupardus took classes between jobs at West Virginia University's OSHA training center. After her son was seriously injured in his first year as a welder's helper, she shifted her focus to safety. Lupardus says her son has since fully recovered, but the possibility of losing him made her realize the importance of safety on the job site.

As a woman in construction, Lupardus says she has faced a unique set of challenges. “There have been some difficulties. I feel like I have to work harder to prove myself. Some of the people that I work with don't necessarily know that I have the union labor background and have done some of the work.”

Lupardus said her greatest accomplishment has been earning her Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) from the Board of Safety Professionals. Her credentials also include a rigging certification, and her diverse background includes work with carpenters, ironworkers and civil engineers. She has also worked on heavy highways, bridges, oil and gas, automotive and industrial jobs.

In spite of having to fight against being underestimated, Shari keeps an open ear and a good attitude. “The main thing I would like to pass on is, listen to your workers and they’ll teach you something. And if you work hard for something that you love, then it becomes a passion, not necessarily a job.”

Jeannette Saliba Smith

Jeannette Saliba Smith | Don’t Limit Your Opportunities

As a Preconstruction Manager, Jeannette Saliba Smith is responsible for reviewing proposal specifications and drawings to determine scope of work and price the required contents of each project. This usually involves working with a team of designers and estimators, each of whom specializes in market pricing for a different scope.

Though her current role often involves sitting behind a desk, Saliba has a broad perspective of the industry as someone who has worked in construction her whole life.

“My dad's an engineer and a contractor, so it’s been in my blood for forever,” Saliba said. “I worked with him on the weekends growing up and through high school and college.”

She graduated from the University of North Florida in 2013 with a degree in Construction Management but ended up finding an opportunity in estimating, which ultimately led her to her current role. While evolving into her current role, Saliba received her MBA in Finance and Construction Management and developed the company’s new corporate estimating software.

As someone who has found success in unexpected places, Saliba advises women getting into construction not to limit their opportunities.

“Going to school, what they drill into you is project management,” she said. “I don't want students to think it's a faux pas to graduate and then end up doing preconstruction, estimating or another role besides project management.”

That sort of open mind helped Saliba realize the importance of every role in every project. “Just because you're not in the field actively building something does not mean you're not doing what you learned in school. There are so many integral parts to construction, and we need everyone contributing.”

Although the construction industry has a long way to go in its inclusion of women, Saliba says it’s making significant progress.

“As far as creating more opportunities for women, you are seeing more women in leadership, which you didn't used to see,” she said. “They’re also recruiting more out of school. So, I think the industry as a whole is moving in that direction.”

Saliba said it was evident that Haskell was making deliberate efforts to hire more women and expand the female workforce in all departments.

Above all else, Saliba said that the people she sees daily make her job worth doing.

“You could really like your job, but if you don't like the people you're working with, it is hard to keep going day by day,” she said. “If you have that support system around you, they give you motivation and you feel a little bit more driven.”

Kierstin Beaumont

Kierstin Beaumont | Great Value in Supporting Others

Kierstin Beaumont is a former project manager now working as a Manager of Project Controls Systems. Her current role involves implementation and training on Project Management Systems and creating more efficient project management workflows via new tools and software.

Prior to her education at the University of Florida, Beaumont was a hopeful athlete participating in basketball, swimming, gymnastics and dance throughout her youth. An ACL injury in high school was the catalyst for reimagining her future as a professional athlete and, instead, focusing more on academics.

Her love for art and math led her to pursue architecture because it combined her passion for visual creativity with her mathematical acumen. After graduating from UF’s Architecture program, Beaumont decided she wanted more knowledge about construction and specifically the design-build delivery model, so she continued her education by studying for her master’s in both architecture and project management. She eventually dropped architecture to study project management full-time.

Her education continued, and accelerated, once she entered the workforce. During eight years as a project manager, she learned the nuts and bolts and nuance of design-build delivery. She also found a need that led to a different but parallel career path.

A program called Innovation Captains sponsored by Dysruptek, Haskell’s innovation and venture capital arm, sought out team members who tended to lean into technology who could pilot and perfect new tools and systems. Beaumont naturally gravitated to these opportunities.

“That was me, essentially,” she said. “On most teams I would be on, I would kind of be the techie person. I eventually saw a path that would lead to transitioning away from construction management. Altogether, it’s been a great decision. It fits my skillset so perfectly. I'm always ready to help, and I love being in a support role. I get value out of helping the teams have processes that make their work lives less stressful. I appreciate that, because I've been there.”

Looking forward, Beaumont would like to see expanded benefits for women in all industries. “The PM career path can require a lot of travel and long hours. After starting families, the opportunities for women with children can become challenging to balance. Perhaps there could be more work cases/flexibility conducive to motherhood to ensure their careers continue to grow in balance with life needs.”

The representation of women and minorities in construction is an ongoing issue, she said. It is important to constantly take stock of where your career is growing and whether it supports your lifestyle.

“It can be intimidating when you come into a room and there's no one that looks like you,” she said. “There can be assumptions that you may not even know what you're doing or that you're too young to really understand what's going on. But you know, the more you do, the more you can understand what other people's hesitations are and they can be addressed respectfully and professionally.”

Such assumptions might dishearten or anger some, but Beaumont has learned to stay focused on her development and address biases with a positive attitude. While others have told her demeanor would be better suited as a PM to “be a shark,” she accepts her strengths of “being a dolphin.”

“I'm never going to be overtly rude or aggressive,” she said. “That's not the way I was raised. I don't like speaking to people that way. If you’re smart and diplomatic, it can work, even in highly stressful situations. Be true to yourself, no matter what path your career takes you in.”

Haskell is hiring! Explore the many options available to join a growing company committed to educating and developing team members, enabling them to have the BEST job of their lives.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

Promoting and expanding diversity and inclusion is a strategic pillar of Haskell’s long-term vision and is foundational to creating a team member experience of significance, success and satisfaction. Haskell Together is our intentional and consistent initiative to promote open dialogue and bring about positive change.

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