Women In Construction Week – Hannah Mahaffey
Hannah Mahaffey | Director of Business Development & Marketing
“If you are in a room, you are there for a reason. You may look across the table and see questioning eyes, wondering why you’re there and what makes you qualified to be part of the discussion. Ignore that. […] Know your worth, empower others, work hard and let your results speak for themselves.”
Why did you get into the construction industry?
After starting my career in the banking industry, I was looking to branch out into a position that would allow me to utilize my skills and create a positive impact on my community. I looked into a variety of positions within multiple industries, but I knew I had found a home at Martin Horn as soon as I had my interview. Construction never seemed like an industry that I could flourish in, but after three years, I can honestly say I had no idea the vast world of opportunities and experiences it has provided me.
Why did you choose to work at Martin Horn?
I knew I wanted to work at Martin Horn about five minutes into my first interview. There was something about the culture, the people and their attitudes towards their work that was magnetic. I remember marveling at how not only did this company create a physical impact on the community, but it also invested its time, money and resources into serving that community and its needs, by volunteering and supporting local non-profits and organizations.
What unique skills do you bring to your job as a woman?
As I am frequently the only woman in the room, I am able to bring a new perspective when collaborating and problem solving. My skills are not specific to my gender, but a woman’s perspective can illuminate new ways of thinking and doing things that would not have been considered otherwise. I also get a real kick out of commanding a room full of men, particularly when those men aren’t used to seeing a woman in charge.
Are there women who inspired you along the way? Who?
There are countless women who inspired me along the way. One in particular comes to mind, a woman named Deanna that worked in the Business Office at JMU. I was struggling to pay my way through school and was running ever-close to a payment deadline. I remember rushing into the office at 5:03pm, panicked that I was too late. The office was in fact closed, but she had stayed behind, waiting for me to arrive. It was a small gesture–so small, she probably doesn’t even remember. But it had an immense impact on me. It was a lesson I’ll never forget. A small act of kindness and understanding, mixed with going “the extra mile” for someone can literally change their entire life. I wouldn’t have been able to finish school had she not stayed those extra three minutes. As women, we need to look out for one another. We need to empower one another. Our foremothers fought hard to get where we are today, but there are still many miles left on the road to equality. We can only get there by lifting up one another.
What career advice do you have for younger women interested in construction?
If you are in a room, you are there for a reason. You may look across the table and see questioning eyes, wondering why you’re there and what makes you qualified to be part of the discussion. Ignore that. Own the room. Command respect. Don’t be afraid to boldly reject sexual harassment or discrimination. I was once afraid of being perceived as “complaining,” but people can only treat you how you allow yourself to be treated. Know your worth, empower others, work hard and let your results speak for themselves.
Why do you think women should work in construction?
The construction industry literally builds the future of cities, towns, businesses, and communities. Women deserve to be part of building that future. Woman have a responsibility to be part of building that future.