I have debated with myself if I wanted to share this topic with you for many reasons. On the same hand, I feel that if I want to properly represent myself in Balancing Hard Hats & Heels then it would only be right that I share this part of my story with all of you because I know many of you have experienced something similar. Taking a moment to be transparent, I have struggled to truly celebrate myself and this huge part of me has suppressed that sense of true excitement and pride in finally securing this role.
January 24th signified a significant achievement within my career!
Not only is this an amazing accomplishment for me personally but it provides the opportunity for celebration for the people who supported me in getting to this point as well. If you have a few minutes, I would appreciate if you would spend a little time with us as I fill you in on the details of this achievement.
I have worked for the same organization since 2007 and most of that time has been spent under the direction of the accounting group as a Site Administrator. From the beginning of my time with this company I was exposed to responsibilities well beyond the role that I was meant to fill, and I opted to tackle each of them with my best effort. This proved to be a beneficial approach as I continued within the company because it expanded my knowledge base and skill set therefore enhancing my value to others around me. The added benefit that these additional responsibilities provided was a continuous learning opportunity that positioned me to remain content within my role significantly longer than I would have without them. Within 5 years of working as a SA consistently I was ready for my next challenge and yearned for growth. Unfortunately, the position that I held did not offer much growth opportunity, so I remained stagnant and continued to take on more responsibility within my role to keep my desire for something new satisfied.
The Spring outage season in 2018 brought several challenges for me to overcome. These challenges were a combination of personal events and conflicting situations posed by my manager at the time (who is no longer with our organization). These all occurred during a time that I was taking on an extensive and challenging workload. The series of events throughout that season led me to make the decision that I could no longer continue in that role. In April, I gave notice that I would be resigning in June of 2018 upon completion of the close out pertaining to the project I was assigned to. After I gave notice, I spoke with the Safety Director on a separate conversation, but this led to a discussion regarding an opportunity where I could explore the role of a seasonal field safety position prior to exploring roles outside of the company. That opening would not be available at a predetermined date because it was based on project need for the Fall season, but this was the path I was ready to pursue to allow a change in my role and in hopes that it would allow me to be more present mentally in my personal life.
During a meeting over the summer, I was asked to consider assisting at our Texas office until a safety position was available. I agreed to this because it was a team that I previously worked with, and it would provide additional work opportunities while I waited for a safety position to become available. Little did I know that agreement would completely redirect my path. In August I was assigned to begin assisting the group in Texas. This assistance led me to a full-time role (for the first time in 11 years within this company) as a Senior Project Coordinator. This role consisted of the same responsibilities I had for the prior years with some of the additional tasks listed as an official portion of my role. This position was not my desired path because the growth opportunities were nonexistent, the pay was a significant decrease creating financial stress, and the responsibilities of the role were no different than what I had already spent years doing. The only reason I pursed this path is because it allowed me to work near home without extensive onsite project durations and that was my primary focus due to changes within my home environment. With that being said, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to focus on family and for the ability to step into that division and be a support member for them throughout their growth. I am proud of my time in that role and the value I offered to the team.
The only reason I accepted the coordinator position was to care for a little girl I helped raise for many years that I was in the process of adopting. Due to an unpredictable series of events our situation changed and as of August of 2019 she no longer lived with me. This meant my reason for accepting a position that was not my preferred path was no longer there. I was left in a place with lack of fulfilment in growth, financial stress, and an unwavering desire to be back on project sites. That feeling created an extreme level of internal struggle, and once I could not fight myself about it any longer, I decided to see if the path that I was on prior to accepting the position would still be available. During my conversations to explore a Safety role as a method to transition from the department I was currently working within, a suggestion was presented to me. This option was presented from one of the last Project Managers I was working with prior to leaving the Site Administrator role. This man has now become my mentor and at that time he already possessed extensive knowledge of my capabilities and value. This concept was presented as a project-based Field Engineer role. Now, many of you will naturally think of this role as a direct connection to engineering but that is not the primary purpose our organization utilizes this role as. FE’s in our company are utilized more as a “right-hand” support to the Project Manager and Area Managers as needed. This role consists of scheduling, budgeting, staffing support, customer relations, extra work tracking/management, reporting, etc. As I said, an overall support role for the project.
When this opportunity was presented, I was truly excited about a career move for the first time in many years. I happily agreed to be onsite to take on this endeavor as soon as I was able to leave the coordinator role pending the replacement for that position. I was scheduled to be onsite the 2nd week of February 2020 in Kentucky to act in the role of a Field Engineer. To ensure you have a more well-rounded understanding of this role; FE’s are a small group that hold a management style role that is very valued within our organization but is still being refined on the expectations, job descriptions, and management direction of the group. Upon my arrival onsite we were advised that FE would not be an accepted craft for my time throughout that project. Due to this we had to adjust the paperwork to list it as a Foreman role, but I acted as a FE throughout the project duration. The Fall of 2020 I returned to work a project in Indiana but this time the FE role was accepted on the craft portion of my paperwork. Progress! Haha
With each passing season I learned more regarding the execution aspect of the work, the project management role, people management, and so much invaluable information that I could not be more grateful for. The feedback of the work that people were seeing from me consistently remained positive. My Project Manager initiated conversations with our upper management team towards making me an official FE within the organization. The consensus was NO; the only feedback that was provided was lack of qualification. Based on the posted job description my experience, qualifications, and education should have been sufficient. Now y’all keep in mind, February of 2022 would have been 2 years I was acting in this role successfully without any official capacity. To get us to this point it took several conversations, a handful of people exerting unwavering support, and I’m sure several other conversations and actions that I was not made aware of. There are several more factors that were additives to the stress, rejection, and flat-out disheartening emotions that came throughout this duration but some of those additional details are best left out. To those of you who went through this journey with me, I can never express enough gratitude for the support and encouragement you provided. And to those of you who were against the consideration of providing me with this opportunity, I hope you’ll see how wrong you were in the years to come and respect that it did occur at some point.
Feb 12, 2020: Begin acting in the capacity of FE.
April 2021: I was advised that the opportunity for the FE role would not be pursued due to lack of qualification.
June 26, 2021: I was notified that upper management would be moving forward with efforts to offer me an official role as a FE.
Sept 2021: I was notified that there was an offer officially available but the financial portion was not approved so it would be a few more weeks.
Jan 06, 2022: I received the phone call with my official offer.
Jan 24, 2022: My first official day as a full time Field Engineer for the company.
The Field Engineer role that I was offered is an Associate level which is equivalent to the entry level position for this role, but it does come with full benefits, vacation time, a company truck, bonus eligibility, holiday pay, and guaranteed hours during times between projects. My structure prior to today did not offer any of these benefits and during downtime between projects I could apply for unemployment if I chose to do so but was not paid any compensation from the company. This is a position that commonly leads to various levels of upper management roles which means it does provide growth opportunity if I would like to purse that in the future. More importantly, this role has given me a sense of fulfillment that I have not had in a long time. It constantly provides the need to learn and take on new challenges and keeps me project based which is such a huge portion of what I love about this industry.
What I find as an even bigger achievement is that we have never had a female within a role similar as this in the history of this company!!!
That’s the part I want to be so proud of! That’s the part that I hope gives someone reading this a little hope when they feel like gender is a factor in hindering their growth within a male dominated industry. I was told that we also hired a female lead role within one of our mechanical services divisions within the past year so between that and the fact that I am now officially a FE, I am extremely proud to be a part of something that signifies such a significant change in the path of this company. I am proud to be a part of this company, this team, and to be a woman in the role that I now hold.
I hope that you can take a moment to celebrate with me because sharing this with you is my form of celebration for myself! This is a big step in a journey that will continue to put obstacles in front of me for numerous reasons, but I will proudly hold my head high and continue to push through them all with courage, faith, perseverance, and dignity.
I truly appreciate your time, support of B3H, and the purchases you have made thus far. We will be dropping our first podcast episode around Valentine’s Day so be sure to be on the lookout through our Social Media pages for the Podcast link and the Spa Day Package that we will be giving away leading up to the Podcast release. Be sure to like the business page then go to the groups tab and go join the Balancing Hard Hats & Heels group for the giveaway updates!!
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