If you didn’t know any better, you might think that home building is a male-dominated industry and years ago, we might have agreed. Today, the number of working women in construction makes up 10.9% and is on the rise.
The GHBA Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) was established to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the construction industry and be their voice. That’s why our female leaders became members as soon as the opportunity presented itself and are now a part of the largest female-led building group in the U.S. In honor of International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week, we couldn’t think of a better time to spotlight some of our female leaders at Empire and their homebuilding careers. Here’s to acknowledging some of the invaluable members of our team.
Jenni has worked in the home building industry for two decades. In her role, she has had the privilege of overseeing all strategy and marketing efforts for the Texas region, with the support of Empire’s local marketing team. When she learned the GHBA was launching a PWB council, she knew it was an initiative she wanted to be involved with. “The women I have worked with have been instrumental in shaping my personal and professional growth,” says Jenni. “As a woman leader in the industry, I am excited to join this initiative, form bonds with like-minded individuals and pave the way for women in building.”
“At the start of my career, I faced many challenges as a young inexperienced female — my voice was small and the thought of sharing my wild ideas in a conference room full of well-suited men was intimidating,” says Claudia. “Lucky for me, I was surrounded by a very supportive team to whom I attribute a lot of my success to.” Working in the Marketing department for Empire’s Houston division, Claudia says that when Donna Buenik — Director of Builder Programs at GHBA — shared information about the PWB council, she was immediately drawn to the opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s best. She hopes to gain knowledge and experience to share with women entering the home building industry who were once in her position; new, young and ready to learn.
Prior to moving to the United States and joining Empire’s Land Acquisition team, Kim lived in Vietnam where she was born and raised. She joined PWB to remind women of every generation that they have the power to make a difference, and to consider what they can do to improve the world. As a wife, colleague and woman, Kim recognizes that she has the power to affect change and inspire the next generation of young women. This change can start at home, in the community or on a global scale, and it can be as simple as setting a good example. “Many of us encounter inspiring women on the day-to-day but don’t always take the time to recognize them,” says Kim. “By joining PWB, we will ensure these women are celebrated every day.”
Karla oversees the purchasing operations for the Houston division. Throughout her 10 years working in the industry, she has grown significantly as an individual and as a leader thanks to the guidance and support of many women she has worked alongside. Several years ago, Karla had the privilege of attending the Women in Residential Construction Conference (WIRC) in Scottsdale where she first learned about the NAHB Professional Women in Building Council (PWB). “It was such an insightful and uplifting experience to be able to learn from some of the top female leaders in the nation and to also be able to share my own experiences with them,” she says. “I was very surprised to learn that Houston, one of the top housing markets in the nation, did not have its own PWB chapter at the time.” As a member of PWB, Karla looks forward to networking with, learning from and promoting the development of females in the construction industry.
Vikki joined Empire’s Purchasing team in 2016. She is responsible for overseeing the functions, operations and leadership for the purchasing departments in Texas and works closely with the construction team and suppliers on vendor relations, purchasing of materials, pricing and product specifications. “I joined PWB to be a part of an organization that supports and promotes professional women in the industry,” says Vikki. “Through the committee’s professional development plans and networking events, I am excited for opportunities to develop leadership and management skills that will enrich my career in the home building industry.
As a member of Empire’s Human Capital team, Corinne provides advice, coaching and support to leaders and employees alike. She is responsible for developing and ensuring that Human Capital strategic initiatives, programs and processes are implemented within the Texas region. Bringing 10+ years of experience in Human Resources to the team, Corinne has a demonstrated history of success in the real estate industry and is a Senior Certified Professional through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). “Professional Women in Building provides me with the opportunity to cultivate relationships, break down barriers for women to build careers in construction, and promote gender diversity in a male-dominated industry,” she says. “I joined PWB to network with my peers and influence initiatives designed to further advance women in homebuilding.”