Women in Construction Week 2020 – Hannah Mahaffey
Hannah Mahaffey | Director of Business Development & Marketing
“Disregard opinions based on stereotypes. Argue when you need to, but in most cases, just let your work speak for itself.”
How did you end up in construction?
I would have never imagined I’d end up in construction. I had always wanted to do strategic communication and marketing for an organization, but I hadn’t even considered construction as an industry that would be open to me. After working a few years after college, I was pretty discouraged by the corporate world. I started a job hunt that focused around the organization I’d be working for, instead of the industry it was in. I knew I’d found the right company when I interviewed with Martin Horn. I knew I wanted to work for them because of the company they were, not what they did. That being said, Martin Horn makes it pretty clear — “we build stuff.”
What was your experience like when you first started as a woman in construction?
Being a woman in any male-dominated industry is difficult. I had started in banking/finance, so I knew what I was taking on. While many people were very supportive, there was no hiding the fact that I was often the only woman in the room. Many times–at least at first–men would introduce themselves to everyone in the meeting except me. I don’t think they even realized they had done it. That stuff was annoying, but it puts a fire in your belly to prove yourself.
Has it changed since then? How?
Construction–and the entire world–has changed a lot in the last few years. Martin Horn is very supportive of women in construction and has really invested in me and my professional development. I remember a couple of years ago, while at an industry event, I was asked, “How did you know about this event? Who invited you?” He was just teasing me, as we had gotten to know each other at other networking events. But, man. The face he made when I walked to the front of the room and grabbed the mic. I turned around and looked him right in the eye as I welcomed guests to the event–which he had not known–I was in fact, hosting. Martin Horn has encouraged me to not just be a face for the company, but a face for the industry.
What career advice do you have for younger women interested in construction?
Work hard. Do your job. YOUR job. Not the job that “a woman” does. Learn from those around you. Stay hungry and focused, even amongst the chatter that makes you feel as if you don’t belong. Disregard opinions based on stereotypes. Argue when you need to, but in most cases, just let your work speak for itself.
Why do you think women should work in construction?
Women should work in every industry.
The construction industry literally builds the future of cities, towns, businesses, and communities. Women deserve to be part of building that future. Women have a responsibility to be part of building that future.