Women @ MATT

Women @ MATT: Part Two

Highlighting some of the women who have been integral to MATT's success

Although 2021’s Women in Construction Week has come to a close, we are continuing to celebrate Women’s History Month by highlighting women who have contributed to MATT Construction’s success. Meet Tinna Li, Lia Gardley, Stephanie Martinez, Kelly Holahan and Maria Guido in part two of our WIC blog series.

Tinna Li, MATT Construction

Tinna Li: Senior Project Manager

Q: What advice would you give young women entering the field of construction?

A: The advice I would give to anyone entering the field of construction is to be yourself but lead with confidence. Confidence in yourself is so important. You might not know everything at first, but be assured in your ability to learn quickly, adapt and develop.

Q: What is your leadership/management style and how does it inform your work in the industry?

A: At first, I managed people the way I prefer to be managed, but I’ve learned that people learn and work differently, so I’ve adjusted my management style over time and it’s something I’m still developing. It can be a challenge to learn how to lead different people, but it also helps me grow as a manager and as a professional. Understanding and adapting to different learning styles from my own is a very humbling experience.

Q: What is your proudest moment at MATT?

A: I still remember the 100-year anniversary celebration to unveil the Otis Booth Pavilion at the Natural History Museum, which was my first project with MATT. It was so cool to be a part of this big, public celebration alongside my team, the owners, and the general public, and to know I helped contribute to that. I still get chills when I think about it.

Q: What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome while you’ve been in the industry?

A: Imposter Syndrome has definitely been a challenge I’ve faced while in this industry. My degree is in Civil Engineering, so I came into this field with no construction background. Without having construction experience under my belt, I doubted my abilities within this field. However, you learn how to handle it, and I’ve realized that I learn quickly, I ask the right questions and what others (and myself) once believed to be a weakness, is actually a strength.

Stephanie Martinez, MATT Construction

Stephanie Martinez: Senior Project Engineer

Q: What has been your favorite project to work on and why?

A: I actually don’t have a favorite project because each project I’ve worked on is so unique in its own unique way. That’s one of the many great things about working at MATT: you will never get bored or feel like you’re doing the same thing over again. MATT takes on so many different types of projects, which allows you to always be learning something new.

Q: What advice would you give young women entering the field of construction?

A: Be yourself and ask questions. You might not know how to do something at first, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t capable. Asking questions is a huge part of the learning process and will continue to be throughout your entire career.

Q: What is your vision for the construction industry five years from now?

A: I think it would be really cool to see more LEED and green buildings. I hope that within five years, green building becomes the norm in the design process, rather than just an option.

Q: What are your favorite hobbies outside of work?

A: Painting watercolor art and hiking. Both serve as such great de-stressors for me.

Lia Gardley, MATT Construction

Lia Gardley: Project Manager

Q: What advice would you give young women entering the field of construction?

A: I think it’s important to go in with the mindset that not everyone is going to give you the respect you think you deserve. Learn to take everything in stride and prove yourself through your work. Your accomplishments will speak for themselves and you’ll be able to tackle any hurdle that comes your way.

Q: What is your proudest moment at MATT?

A: Back when I was a Project Engineer at USC Stevens Hall, we had just closed out the project and I went up on the hillside to take a photo of the building for the client. When I got back to the office and pulled up the photo, I happened to have the initial rendering pulled up from when we first started the project. The images looked identical and I felt so proud of how my team and I had executed the vision of the project so well.

Q: What is your vision for the construction industry five years from now?

A: I would love to see more diverse labor teams in the field. In my experience, I’ve never worked alongside many women in the actual field. At the project I’m on now, I have at least six women on my team doing labor work, which is a dramatic shift from when I first started out. I would love to see this continue and see more and more women out on the field.

Kelly Holahan, MATT Construction

Kelly Holahan: Senior Project Engineer

Q: What is your favorite part of the construction industry?

A: My favorite part of construction is learning how various systems work individually and then seeing how those various parts, pieces and systems work together in the field. With each project you can learn about a new system, product or process, so you can continue to build knowledge.

Q: What advice would you give young women entering the field of construction?

A: Don’t be intimidated by business-as-usual practices. It’s clear in observing many current practices that there are typical ways things are done in the construction industry. However, have an open mind and be confident in what new perspectives you may bring to the table. I would also tell any young talent to ask as many questions as you need in order to fully understand concepts. Don’t be intimidated by the technical information you may not know at first. Be willing to ask questions, learn and dive into the details—this process has been very rewarding and has led to achievements thus far in my career.

Q: Tell me about a time when your technical skills aided your team in succeeding on a job.

A: At my current project, we had a lengthy period of testing the building façade’s structural, air & water penetration, and seismic capabilities. This process came with many challenges and small details that needed to be adjusted, tracked and explained. I was a very integral part of this extensive process and was relied on to know and report on the technical information. Seeing it through to the end was really rewarding for me.

Q: What is your vision for the construction industry five years from now?

A: I hope to see the processes used in construction become much more sustainable and less energy intensive. In general, construction creates a lot of waste and uses a great deal of energy. I want to see the industry come to a place where we use new technologies and software to help us be more efficient in order to mitigate waste and energy usage during the course of construction. 

Maria Guido, MATT Construction

Maria Guido: Vice President of Talent

Q: What is your favorite part about the construction industry?

A: I’m always amazed at the level of coordination and collaboration required from the start of a project to bring everything together into a beautiful and tangible asset. When I first interviewed with MATT, I visited Google Spruce Goose in the early stages of the project. I remember being blown away by the organized chaos – it was incredible to see MATT’s large team and the hundreds of trades at work. A couple of years later, I had the opportunity to lead an intern visit at the project as it was coming to a close. Seeing the massive transformation that had taken place from beginning to end was very inspiring and is still one of my favorite parts about being in the construction industry. 

Q: What advice would you give young women entering the field of construction?

A: Be yourself and proactively leverage the natural talents you have as a woman. I think if we all do that as a whole, our industry will really benefit. Women tend to be innate planners, leaders, collaborators and communicators. Be confident and bold in bringing forth those traits and your own unique gifts to work and you will succeed.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at MATT?

A: I really appreciate the family-entrepreneurial culture at MATT. I’ve worked at larger companies in the past, and there’s something really meaningful about the culture at MATT that I gravitate towards. One of our guiding principles is a quote from Paul Matt: “It’s not what you can do for yourself, but how you can help others succeed.” As someone in the talent sector, it’s really inspiring and meaningful to work in a company that fosters that kind of mindset within the organization.

Q: What is your vision for the construction industry five years from now?

A: I would love to see our industry grow and evolve the diversity and inclusion of our workforce at every level. When you look at the demographics across the industry as a whole, it’s clear that there is room for improvement; however, that also comes with being willing to provide workplace flexibility that employees require to achieve their professional and personal goals. My goal is to improve the diversity of our workforce while creating an environment that is inclusive and responsive to employees’ work-life needs. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported our Women in Construction week initiatives. MATT Construction is very grateful to have so many intelligent, talented and hard-working women on our team.

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