Women in Construction Week: Q&A with Heather Dobrotka
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 and contributions to the industry.
Project Administration Manager
How did you get into the construction industry?
By chance, I took a job with Boston Chicken when they were in Naperville, Illinois. I worked for the VP of Franchise Development. I moved to Denver when they transferred their headquarters there. After a year I decided to move back home and began working with one of the franchise offices for Boston Market/Einstein Bros. Bagels in Chicago. I worked for the VPs of Real Estate and Construction. I was on the owner side of construction working with vendors, contractors, architects, etc. When they went bankrupt I began working with ICI because my background with contractors, architects, vendors and municipalities was a good fit. And as they say the rest is history, 23 years later…
What does your role entail?
I concentrate on contracts both on the Owner side and subcontractor side. Managing insurance, submittals, costs, change orders, contracts, closeout, accounting. I touch most sides of the business besides estimating. I am also heavily involved with Preconstruction and public bidding of our school projects.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The variety of my day. Each day is different. I also love being involved in watching a project go from a piece of land to a building. It is satisfying to drive by one of our projects and know that I had a hand in its construction.
What was your favorite construction project and why?
I would have to say ESPN Zone in Chicago. This was the first project I was involved in. I was in the field for that project. It was the perfect job to learn on. From the job site, I was able to visualize a lot more than I would have been able to in the office.
Have you experienced obstacles throughout your career? How did you overcome them?
I have learned that being in a male-dominated field, at times you have to prove that you have knowledge and understanding. Sometimes it takes longer to gain the respect of others.
What is your advice to women wanting to get into construction?
If you love “getting your hands dirty,” being part of a team that creates great work for many people to enjoy, then construction is a great career. There are so many paths you can take, from on-the-job trade jobs, to estimating, BIM, Project Supervision, Project Management, Financial, Administration. The opportunity really is endless.