In April of this year, Wren & Willow's President Laureen Skrivan, was asked to speak with students at The University of Washington Tacoma for the VIBE Brown Bag Business Learning Series. She presented on a topic entitled, "It's Not A Man's World," describing what it's like to be a woman in leadership in the construction industry.
One of the first things that Laureen noticed when she arrived was that there were more men than women in attendance at a topic on women in leadership roles. She spoke of her upbringing, her inspiration, and how she got into the construction industry. "I started my career in this field ten years ago as a designer," she said. "That...is an 'acceptable woman's profession.'"
However, she explained, she realized that she was giving away the lion's share of her work to other contractors, and she didn't get to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing her work completed. She decided to apply for her contractor's license and "immediately entrenched myself into the world of builders." She went on to describe the importance of creating a personal brand, what it's like to run a company known for treating subcontractors and clients with dignity, and techniques for making employees feel important and cared for.
Laureen shared that, even in the toughest of times, Wren & Willow has continued to grow. The secret to her success? She summed it up in one word: culture. "It's constantly reminding ourselves and the team that we have to treat people better than we treat ourselves." On the flip side, she gave a word of caution: "The biggest mistake that I have witnessed [other women in business do] is not embracing who they are and really just saying, 'Hey, I do have something to contribute and I'm going to build on that.'" She then opened the rest of the discussion for questions.
VIBE, which is an acronym for "Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship," is a training environment that "provides military veterans, and military spouses the education, resources, and supportive environment to use their natural inclinations and skills to innovate and create their own professional lanes through entrepreneurship." The leadership was so impressed by Laureen that they invited her to serve as a judge for the inaugural VIBE Business Plan Competition, which the University described as the "largest such competition in the South Sound."
Watch the full discussion of "It's Not A Man's World" here:
Watch the VIPE Business Plan Competition videos here: