Women in Construction Week: Mel Langlais

Mel Langlais, Director of Safety 
Milwaukee Office 

How did you land in the construction industry?
I never thought about pursuing a career in construction...I was really born into it!  I come from three generations of iron workers.  My dad was a general superintendent, my brother is a welder, and all my uncles are in the trades as well.  I come from a family that takes pride in being builders and values the importance of the legacy that we leave behind.

What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
How the industry affords you the opportunity to develop an extremely resilient personality!

What is your favorite part of your career?
Fixing problems, planning, collaborating, helping people, and learning about new ways to build smarter.

What is your favorite project that you have worked on?
The National Air & Space Smithsonian Museum (NASM) in Virginia! Coolest place where all the most unique aircrafts get retired. This was also the last project I worked on with my dad.

What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?
That’s very hard for me to answer since I never looked at myself as a minority, I always felt like I was right where I belong.

What are your currently working on?
Over the past few years, my focus has been on researching the key success factors of integrating leading indicators into our business.  Also, I have invested a lot of my time educating people in our industry about Prevention through Design (PtD) and how we can utilize technology tools to eliminate hazards and risks in the design phases, not just in the construction phase.

What do you see as the future for construction?
Virtual mobile devices, smart technology helping us build at a more efficient level, challenging workforce years, and the millennials taking over!!!!

What advice would you give to someone starting out?
I would advise any younger women to have confidence in their ability and focus on the work and being the best they can be.  I would also point out that diversity is by far (in my opinion) what allows our industry to build projects with more innovation and ingenuity by constantly challenging the status quo and coming up with ideas that are inspiring.