How to Be the Power in Your Success

Relationships are at the heart of what Dr. Paula Stamp does. For nearly two decades, the director, Business Development, for PCL Construction in California, has built her career on establishing herself and PCL as leaders in the construction industry, and ultimately delivering on this promise. Her impressive career includes securing almost $4 billion in overall work for PCL, developing and mentoring staff, and ensuring repeat business at a rate of 85 percent. Paula didn’t get to this level in her career, however, without learning the importance of networking, being present, and advocating for her own career goals.

In honor 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 work?

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 career goals?

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 setbacks.

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 mediocre mentor tells.
The good mentor explains.
The superior mentor demonstrates.
The greatest mentor inspires.

- Lucia Ballas-Traynor

Question: What accomplishment at PCL are you most proud of?

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 role models.

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. 


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