This week, we are showcasing several women who have made a significant impact on the industry and many people within it. Today, we sat down with Lisa Wexler, the fourth of five interviews in our Women in Construction Week series, to discuss her motivations, core values, decision-making, and advice for women in the industry. We thank Lisa for taking the time to speak with us, and we hope you enjoy the insight she has to share.
Lisa Wexler was named President in 2005, becoming the third generation of Wexlers to run Elaine Construction, a full service construction management firm. For over two decades, Lisa has led construction projects for a broad range of clients in the Institutional, Healthcare, Fitness, Corporate Interiors, and Retail Banking Sectors. Her construction knowledge and her ability to build a team dedicated to service and quality workmanship are assets to her clients. Lisa is a frequent public speaker on the topic of Women in Leadership, is an advisor for Woman for Exchange Leadership and Learning (WELL) an A/E/C Indsutry Group, and is Past President of the Associated General Contractors of MA (AGC-MA).
1. How do you ensure your organization and its activities are aligned with your “core values”?
Elaine Construction’s culture is strong and ever present. Family, Philanthropy, Service – to our Clients, Employees, and Partners is both the legacy and future of this company. We value equity in the workplace, which for us, extends into the field. How do we do this? We are aligned in these values because we live them, and work to achieve balance among them. When you come to work at Elaine, you become a part of the family. We are invested in your success, health, and happiness, and in turn, you ours. Service to others is not relegated to a distinct time during the year, but carried out in many different ways throughout the year. We build, serve a meal, gather gifts and toiletries, and food, lend an ear, and more. These activities bond us and help us develop an appreciation for the abundance that surrounds us.
2. How do you support gender equality in the workplace?
We are a third generation, family owned, woman certified business enterprise. We proudly promote these attributes, and believe that in doing so we attract a diversity of employees to our workplace. Elaine Construction was one of the very first companies to sign Mayor Marty Walsh’s 100% Talent Compact – a program led by former Lt. Governor Evelyn Murphy that uses a toolkit to analyze pay in organizations, ultimately ensuring parity.
3. What motivates you as a leader?
Stewardship of this company that was founded by my grandfather, Leo Wexler, named for my grandmother Elaine Wexler Kopans, who sustained the business after my grandfather’s passing, and before my father ran the company, motivates me. As a leader I think often of my four children and the example I want to set for them. I hope to leave them in the knowledge that they can be both strong and kind, and that these are not mutually exclusive attributes.
4. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I believe that barriers to female leadership start early by messaging gender appropriate careers. Clearly that message was not delivered to me, or I would not be in construction. Values and interests should be encouraged and explored, not defined by gender. I believe our educational institutions play an important role in disrupting this norm and encourage them to embrace it.
5. Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader / mentor? Why and how did this person impact your life?
My father has been the most influential person in my life. I am blessed to have grown up in the business working side by side with him. He is my confidant, my advocate, and my greatest supporter. When he passed the torch to me in 2001, he had prepared me well for my role as President of Elaine Construction.
6. What advice would you give to women trying to break into the industry?
Women need not try to break into the construction industry. The door is wide open. We welcome you, and need you to ensure its success and viability. We encourage young women and those looking to make a career change to let go of their preconceived notions of this industry. Construction is a career that offers many avenues for success – and women do succeed. You can too.