Story Construction

Story's Women in Construction: Melinda Packebush

March 5, 2019

Job Title: Estimator

College: Iowa State University

Years With Story: 1


how and when did you decide you wanted to go into the construction field?

I'd probably have to go back to my time in high school. I took some classes in drafting and principals of tech, and it was those teachers who told me I should look into engineering as a career field. I initially wanted to be an architectural engineer, but I went on a college visit at Iowa State and they told me they did not have a program for it and I'd have to get an engineering and an architecture degree, which would take seven years. So, I started at Iowa State as an architecture major. After a few semesters, I realized it was the engineering piece I wanted and I switched over to construction engineering. After graduation I actually worked in civil engineering as a licensed civil engineer until switching over to estimating 6 or so years ago.

What do you like most about your job here at story construction?

I really enjoy working in the pre-construction process. I like working with owners and clients to determine their needs, working through the design process and providing cost estimates that meet their budgets. I find a lot of joy in seeing their projects built on time and within budget. With construction in general, I also love the concrete and dirt work. I love seeing scrapers moving dirt, big excavators digging holes, concrete pavers and pumpers at work. I love looking at the steel connections and how things are put together. With all that being said, Frank Lloyd Wright is still my idol!

I also can't forget to mention the people at Story and the Construction Production 2.0 process. We have a really great team of knowledgeable individuals who all bring something to the table. I'm a strong believer in CP 2.0, and I'm excited that it is now being implemented into our pre-construction processes.

In your mind, what are some benefits to having more women in the construction industry?

I think women are wired to think a bit differently about projects. I don't mean to say we think about projects in a better way, just a different way. That's advantageous to the industry because it's almost always better to have more viewpoints and ways of thinking in a room. Also, with there being a labor shortage in the industry, we simply just need more people. It's no secret that women make up such a small and disproportionate section of the industry, and I think employing women is something companies can capitalize on when recruiting new employees to their company or even the industry in general. 

What do you think are the some of the hurdles - real or perceived - that women face in the construction industry?

First of all, I think it's important to point out that a lot of the hurdles are perceived, and that it's up to some of these companies and employers to eliminate those through communication and company culture. In my experience, if you have the skills and the experience for a position, you'll get your fair shot. That's not to say that some women haven't had actual negative experiences in the industry, because I know a few women who have. There will always be the occasional person above or below you who isn't as tolerant, but a strong company and job culture does a pretty good job of weeding those out. I think Story does a really good job at supporting a culture on job sites that doesn't tolerate that sort of behavior or ideology at all. 

Any advice to young women joining the construction industry?

There are so many different opportunities in construction. Seek out what opportunities are available and discuss the responsibilities and roles of the positions you are interested in with someone in those positions. If you want to try something new within the industry, just do it. You'll gain experience from it one way or another that will help you down the road in other areas of the industry. Also, by trying new opportunities, you may find that you are interested in something you never thought you would be. Again, I think Story does a great job at providing those opportunities to learn more and advance your skill set.

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