of Women in Construction (WIC) Week, Paula has agreed to share some of her
secrets on how to be the power in your success.
Question: What does it mean to be your own advocate at
Being your own advocate at work, and in life,
is about knowing you have a voice and learning how to use it.
Question: How important is it for your boss to know your
I think the real question here is, “How
important is it to communicate your career goals to your boss?” It’s vitally
important to be able to clearly articulate where you see yourself in the
company over time. As employees, it is our responsibility, as much as our
supervisors’, to initiate career feedback discussions, and not just once a
year. Having these discussions throughout the year is a great way to stay
connected to upcoming opportunities to engage, learn, and contribute in ways
you would not be exposed to by just having a yearly conversation.
Question: If you could give one piece of advice to
someone starting out in his or her career, what would it be?
If I could give one piece of advice to someone
starting out in their career, it would be to volunteer for assignments and even
develop your own assignments to work on that can contribute to the overall
success of your jobsite, department, or company. When you volunteer for
assignments, you not only learn something new, you work with individuals you might
not otherwise have the opportunity to work with.
Question: Knowing your weaknesses is just as important
as knowing your strengths. How can we assess how we approach weaknesses and failures
to “power up”?
I’m a big proponent of the strengths movement
as defined by CliftonStrengths, formerly known as StrengthsFinder. It is a
strengths-based approach that focuses on leveraging your talents to reach goals
and solve problems as an individual and within a team. Working in an
environment where coaching is the approach to developing people helps us
reassess how we address weaknesses or failures. In truth, most people don’t
want to be told what’s wrong with them and how to fix themselves because it
focuses on negativities. However, a strengths-based approach uses coaching to
address challenges through leveraging individual strengths, whether on one’s own
or in collaboration with others, promotes a growth mindset, and is a positive
approach to getting the best out of people. In fact, having a growth mindset is
shown to contribute to our ability to deal more effectively with failure or
Question: What traits or behaviors are most important to
driving career success?
Regardless of the industry, I think there are
several traits and behaviors that will serve you well in your career. First,
listen more than you talk. Leadership isn’t derived from the quantity of
communication, but by the quality of communication. Letting others speak into
the discussion first allows you time to think about the comments and value the
thoughts of the rest of the team. Second, do what you say you will do. Do not
overcommit. There is nothing worse than promising to meet deadlines and missing
those deadlines consistently. You will soon be someone who cannot be counted on
when it really matters. Third, know your value proposition. This is not the
same thing as a personal brand. A value proposition is the value you bring to
every interaction you have with others. It is outward facing, not inward facing
like a personal brand. Understand what you bring to the table in skill set,
thought leadership, or abilities, to assist someone else without the
expectation of something in return.
Question: Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
One of my favorite quotes originates from
Lucia Ballas-Traynor, one of the most powerful Hispanic women in entertainment.
I love this quote because it sums up what mentors should be.
The good mentor
- Lucia Ballas-Traynor
Question: What accomplishment at PCL are you most proud
I’ve been with PCL for more than 18 years, so
there are many accomplishments I’m proud of in my time here. However, I think
the one I’m most proud of is furthering the diversity and inclusion initiative
in CAB. Diversity and inclusion has a personal meaning for me. My uncle, George
Raymond, Jr., was a pioneering civil rights activist in Mississippi. He
was a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, a Freedom Rider, and
head of the Congress of Racial Equality. He worked closely with Medgar Evers
and Ann Moody, also civil rights pioneers, and was the lead organizer for the
famous Woolworth sit-in in Jackson, Mississippi. He
risked his life to fight for equality and serve his community and is one of my
The communities PCL serves vary in their
composition, but what is consistent is our ability to give back to each of
them. In California, we have multiple projects located in lower socio-economic
strata communities and small businesses who are looking for opportunities to
build their capacity. Our local hiring initiatives keep dollars earned on our
projects in the communities where the project exists. Our ability to help build
capacity for small, Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises, Minority Business
Enterprises, and Women Business Enterprises employs countless people. Los
Angeles World Airports, LA Football Club, Kaiser Permanente, and Destination
Crenshaw are just a few of the clients who have expressly told us during
debriefs that one of the main reasons we won their respective projects is
because of our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our team’s ability to
walk the walk in this space.