Last week, we celebrated the 25th annual Women in Construction week, a time dedicated to championing women in the industry. This year’s theme, ‘Many Paths, One Mission,’ celebrated the different journeys women have taken toward the same goal: strengthening and amplifying the success of women in construction.
We’re sitting down with Meghan Looney, Director of Human Resources at Perlo, to learn about her path into construction. As an employee of more than 8 years, Meghan’s background in marketing and public relations and her passion for people led to reforming human resources operations entirely at Perlo, and reimagining a company that is now recognized as an award-winning workplace culture.
1. What is your role at Perlo?
As the Director of Human Resources, I facilitate recruiting, company policies, benefits and compensation, performance reviews, legal compliance for employment, training and development, company communications and culture, and internal events. All that said, and simply put: I like to think I work to find good people and ensure our current people are happy with their work and employment at Perlo.
2. What led you to work in Human Resources?
I never thought of a career in human resources until I got to Perlo. I started in 2014 as a marketing coordinator, and through that, I was exposed to our unique family-feel environment. I fell in love our people saw a need for a more robust human resources department when we rapidly grew, and our people needed more tools to propel forward. So I spoke up about that! The position came naturally with my experience in public relations, communications and marketing, and my extroverted personality helped! Let’s just say the rest is history!
3. What is your favorite part of working for a construction company?
There are so many things I love about working in this industry! First, I love meeting and recruiting great people and helping them find their potential at Perlo, just like how I found my niche. Second, I enjoy welcoming and setting our new employees up for success. It’s important for me to support and empower our employees to reach their greatest potential, so they can give their best selves to the company, team members and our clients. I’m equally for our people and for our company. I am so proud of our work and know wholeheartedly that our people are the reason we do it so well.
Additionally, it’s rewarding to know that I help play a vital role in constructing a project, whether new construction or tenant improvements. I enjoy being a part of something bigger and seeing how our physical work, blood, sweat and tears positively impact the lives of many people, families and communities.
4. Recruiting is a hot topic. What challenges do you see to people wanting to enter this industry?
It’s different with office and field positions. For the office, it’s the unknown. We have people who intentionally got into construction, but we have a lot of people who only knew what construction work meant once they were here. I think the wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds are a testament to the great career opportunities this field offers.
On the field side, work in the trades can be challenged by inconsistent hours. In addition, with field work being cyclical, layoffs are common. We work hard to keep our crew members busy, even if we have a slowdown. There are also challenges for individuals to find enough consistent work as an intern, requiring travel, odd hours, things like that. If you have family duties and obligations, this kind of inconsistency can be a real trial.
I see the behind the scenes and how hard we work to keep our great workers busy, and it’s sometimes different at other companies. Employment at Perlo means something different. You aren’t just a number; you don’t get lost in the shuffle. I see our leadership standing by the Perlo Way every day and it really makes our team easy to sell.
5. What are the challenges facing our industry in the near and long term?
There are many exciting opportunities, but still some challenges. The more significant one, not surprisingly, is labor shortages. As construction continues to grow and we expand into different regions due to the lack of developable land, we need to get creative with how we recruit talented professionals willing to put in the hard work required to make it in construction.
6. As a female, do you feel you face barriers in your work?
No, I don’t. In general, Perlo’s company culture would not allow for that. But I also make a conscious effort to insert myself into conversations and to have my own voice. I don’t accept that I could be treated as ‘less’ than others because of my gender, and I don’t feel like I am. I know I have value to bring here, and others respect me for that.
I don’t take my role as a woman in construction lightly. As a mother of young daughters, I want women and girls to know we have a place in construction and so much to offer this industry.
7. What do you wish more people knew about working in the construction industry?
Our industry has a wide range of jobs – there’s a place for everyone! It’s amazing the extent of backgrounds and experiences that are accepted into this industry and apply very well to the work. I had no idea what I would do for a construction company. I’ve been here 8 years and now understand how I add value, but I can see where others might not know how they initially fit into a construction company. There are so many supporting departments – safety, marketing, accounting, project support, training, IT, and warehouse. There’s something for everyone – just reach out!
8. What advice do you have for individuals wanting to enter the construction industry?
Go for it. Be confident but humble, ask questions and be willing to learn. Find what motivates you, embrace challenges, be a good teammate, stay positive, stay hungry, and let your walls down, but stay true to yourself and be the best you can be. And lastly, don’t be afraid to get out on-site and get dirty! Maybe it’s cheesy . . . but it’s all true! Know your value and bring it with you every day.
9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your career and/or work here at Perlo?
I’ve never found a work environment or culture as we have here at Perlo. I’m so proud of our team members. We do very challenging, hard work, but we have a genuine, fun, and collaborative culture that makes the stress of the job easier and enjoyable. We carry the burden together and celebrate together, which makes the challenges exciting and worthwhile. We celebrate our achievements and learn from our mistakes. I’ve never found or seen this kind of culture elsewhere, and I’m so proud to be a part of it and grateful for it.
We’d like to thank Meghan for taking the time to share her work and experience at Perlo and in the construction industry. If you’re interested in careers in construction, take a look at our Careers page for more information! If you’d like to check out more of our Women in Construction series, visit our Newsroom page.