Celebrating Women in Construction (WIC) Week with a Spotlight on El Paso

 |  Building, Diversity, Sundt People

March is Women’s History Month, which begins fittingly with the celebration of Women in Construction (WIC) week. Each year, members of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) raise awareness about women’s growing presence in our industry. As part of the celebration, we’re highlighting a few of the many skilled women who work in various roles across Sundt, with a special focus on our operations in El Paso, Texas. These ladies took some time out of their busy lives to share how they got here, their goals, their struggles, their hopes for the future—in a word, their stories. We dare you to read them and not be inspired.

First is Angelica Rosales, Business Development Representative with the Building Group, Southwest District. Like many women in this industry, she grew up with construction in her blood; Angelica is the daughter of Joe Rosales, one of the first minority contractors to work for the City of El Paso. Also like many other women, Angelica did not start her professional career in construction initially. She brings a unique background from her work in the nonprofit world and her “other” full-time job as a mother of two, on top of which she is currently earning her master’s in construction management through UTEP. In talking with Angelica, it’s easy to see how her passion for this field and her engaging, relational style have made her a vital part of Sundt’s team.

How did you get into construction, and what led you to Sundt?

I grew up around construction. My father started a civil construction company in El Paso back in 1957. He was one of the first minority contractors to work for the City of El Paso, pouring streets and curb and gutter throughout the city. We would visit jobsites and he would point out details showing the quality and craftsmanship of work in place. It always gave me a sense of pride to see what my father was building and to be there alongside him.

I didn’t join the industry officially until 2016, when I began working with my brother who took over the family business. I quickly realized I do have a passion for construction. In 2018, after meeting Joseph Riccillo, Sundt project director and El Paso region leader, while collaborating on a community project, I was given an incredible opportunity to join Sundt’s building group in El Paso. My father and brother encouraged me to take the position.

What is your favorite thing about working in this industry?

I love to see how a project is built, going from a set of drawings to a tangible product where people work, live and play. Our work is leaving a legacy in our communities through the built environment. And every day is so different that I’m constantly adapting. Construction today is a lot more cerebral and analytical than people think. Some just picture the nuts and bolts of manual labor on a jobsite. But all of the nuances of business development, preconstruction, and operations take a highly skilled and cohesive team, as well as some really advanced technology. I love how this field offers both a lifelong career and a lifelong learning process.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay the course. I received this advice from a wise friend years ago and always remember this.

What does construction need more of? Less of?

More women. Hah! Seriously though—it’s true. We need more women. We need less misconceptions and better communication to young women and young people in general about the many career paths within our industry. People haven’t seen that side of it. You can have a background in architecture, engineering, and related fields. But also, like with my experience in nonprofit management and grant writing, you can utilize skillsets from other areas as well. There’s a lot of depth to what we do, and the opportunities are endless.

What challenges have you faced as woman working in construction?

First as a woman, but also as a business development professional, sometimes people in operations don’t fully realize the importance of your role—or that all roles have a part to play. If there’s too much emphasis on one role or one person’s expertise, it can limit our potential to learn from each other. When we work together and recognize we’re all part of the same team, we become more successful.

When this job gets difficult or things don’t go as planned, how do you pick yourself back up?

I talk to a trusted friend who knows me well and gives me a different perspective. I also like to go on long runs to clear my head. It’s important to be able to step away from the task at hand, clear your head and come back refreshed.

What motivates or inspires you?

My children. As I’m working on my master’s, there are lots of late nights and early mornings when I’m up working on a proposal or a project for class. Those are the moments when I think of my two children, how much they depend on me and the example I set for them. Many evenings, we’re all doing homework together and we encourage one another. They push me to keep going. It’s a balancing act—I don’t know even one working mom who doesn’t struggle with guilt about whether she’s being involved enough. My children are my life, and throughout my career they’ve been with me every step of the way.