Employee Spotlight: Construction Manager Mentors Contractors

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An interview with Erika Dominguez, Senior Construction Manager at Gordian

Erika Dominguez has a black belt in construction management, mentoring and parenting and will soon achieve her black belt in Taekwondo. In addition to encouraging her two strong girls, Erika mentors contractors in the Section 3 Job Order Contracting (JOC) Program with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). In our interview, she explains how she went from Gordian client to employee, how she helps contractors in Chicago succeed and why she loves “everything” about her career with Gordian.

“Another personal aspiration is to have a fulfilling life where when I am old I can look back and feel happy about everyone I helped succeed in their business.”

Erika Dominguez

Can you explain your career transformation and success with Gordian?

I began my construction career about 19 years ago for a developer working on multi-million dollar projects including high-end residential condominiums, hotels, parking structures and retail spaces. At that time, I was a Gordian client! I worked for two General Contractors in Chicago doing JOC work. I was building proposals in Gordian’s JOC software, awarding contracts and managing JOC accounts like Department of General Services, University of Illinois at Chicago, United States Postal Service, Public Building Commission, Department of Environment and Chicago Public Schools. I met Dwayne Pierre-Antoine, the current Director of the Great Lakes Region for Gordian, at a Joint Scope Meeting (JSM) at the Cook County Jail. While working with the general contractor, I would hint to Dwayne to get me in the door with Gordian. He probably thought it was a joke, but I was serious. I was offered a job by a Canadian Developer as a Project Engineer/Estimator working on high-end residential condominiums. After six months working for the Canadian Company, I get “the call!”

It was Dwayne. He said there was a position at Cook County and asked if I was interested in the job opportunity. I applied and began my Gordian journey working at the Cook County building in April of 2016. While working for the county client, I would help out the Chicago Housing Authority team. A few months later, I was working full force as an account manager and running jobs as a construction manager. I loved every aspect of the job from the beginning—from being able to walk a project and mentor the contractor to turning the keys over to CHA. A year into the program, I was promoted to Senior Construction Manager.

Briefly describe your job at Gordian and an average day.

My day consists of mentoring contractors. I show them how to create a proper Scope of Work and assist with building proposals and invoices. On a weekly basis, I attend compliance and procurement meetings and provide the client with reports. I also gain and provide guidance and assistance to my teammates as needed throughout the week.

What do you like best about your job and career path?

I like it all! I’m serious! I love my team and the leadership we have. They are always available when I need them. I love the fact that this is a mentor program and I am constantly helping contractors. I love to see contractors succeed and graduate from the tier they originally signed up for. Did I mention I have the best team ever? My team is always willing to take on any task and happily get it done.

Erika and her team and clients.

Explain how the work you do impacts our customers. How does it impact the community?

In the beginning of the program, I remember helping contractors who had no computer experience and even a couple who did not know how to read a tape measure. The men and women in the contractor mentor program have come a long way. My team and I have spent numerous hours and days helping these men and women understand the basics of construction, how to turn in quality units and build proposals. Now our contractors in the CHA program gather together and attend monthly meetings to help each other out. They are mentoring each other and helping new contractors in the program build their proposals and complete jobs.

Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you’re not at the office?

When I am not in the office I spend most of my evenings in Taekwondo. I have a 14-year-old daughter named Isabella. She is an “A” student and also a second-degree black belt. She competes all over the world. Last year she was ranked number 10 in the U.S. in her division. I also have an 8-year-old daughter who is a high-red belt and is also in a dance class. In addition to time spent encouraging my kids’ hobbies, I am testing for my deputy black belt at the end of March. I am super excited and have been training hard to pass my test. In my house, there are always flying kicks everywhere. It’s a taekwondo thing. We never stop practicing! Besides Taekwondo, I spend my days with my whole family. I have an older brother, a younger brother and a 22-year-old sister all who live 5 minutes from me.

Erika and her family

What inspires you? Both in your career and personal aspirations.

Making sure the client is happy and satisfied with the service we, as a team, provide them. My personal inspiration is to help or start new accounts and watch them grow successfully by putting together a great team who have the passion and goals I have. Another personal aspiration is to have a fulfilling life where when I am old I can look back and feel happy about everyone I helped succeed in their business.

How do you define success?

I define success as having a job that you love and enjoy that enables you financially, a family that loves and cares for you and children that make you proud. I’d say that I’m succeeding.

Can you give us a piece of advice that you would give others in your profession?

Be open to challenges and never underestimate yourself.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Not building healthy relationships with advocates, not positioning themselves as experts in their field and not communicating with confidence.

What advice would you give a woman going into a leadership position for the first time?

Make the members of your team successful by motivating with encouragement. Build effective and on-going communication channels with your team.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

I think the greatest challenge for women in the generation behind me will be achieving work-life balance without sacrificing their personal lives.

Learn more about Job Order Contracting.