Women in Construction Week: Q&A with Deanna Harris

Feb 2020

Women in Construction Week takes place annually in early March. The focus of the event is to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry. This year ICI is spotlighting five women within the company who play a critical role in the success of our construction projects, and our organization at large. Each day from March 8 – 12, ICI will feature a Q&A with one of the five women; highlighting their accomplishments, struggles, and contributions to the industry.



How did you get into the construction industry?

I originally wanted to be an architect, and in the process of changing my mind during architecture school, one of my teachers recommended me for a job on a large design/build project. My exposure to construction management on that project led me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Construction Management.

What does your role entail?

I mostly handle change orders, everything that’s involved with them – reviewing the drawings for changes, communicating with subcontractors and owners, and creating the financial documents. I also create subcontracts, order materials, and manage some of the project documentation.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I like that throughout the course of each project or group of projects, my role changes. It’s like a cycle of tasks that starts fresh with a different set of drawings and a new team of people on each project. I also especially enjoy managing budgets.

What was your favorite construction project and why?

The McCormick Place West Expansion project from 2003-2007. The industry was booming at that time and morale was high. We were a young team, we had a lot of fun, and it felt good to be part of something so large.

Have you experienced obstacles throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

As an Xennial single mom trying to pay off a Master’s Degree and working through a recession, I was more focused on money and professional advancement for some years during my career than was completely helpful. I finally took a step back and thought about my strengths, interests, personal limitations, and what I realistically wanted to get out of my career. That new perspective and clarity was very helpful.

What is your advice to women wanting to get into construction?

I believe the industry will finally see some major changes in technological advancement, diversity, and gender equity in the coming years. I believe the industry needs more women and I would encourage women who are interested in getting into construction. The advice I would give to anyone getting into any career in the near future, is to expect and embrace change.