Stephanie Pouse grew up on construction sites, shadowing her father and now business partner, Roy, since hard hats were bigger than her head. In doing so, she grew to appreciate the hard work and overall impact she witnessed.
In her efforts to help build abroad, Pouse continued to explore the impact buildings can have on communities. From rehabilitating a local elementary school in Mexico, to redesigning and constructing an elementary school playground in Costa Rica to mitigate flooding, her passion for building continued to grow.
These days, Pouse is co-founder of Brahma Roofing and Construction, a business on a mission to create a new level of service and trust within the construction industry. We sat down with her to get her thoughts on what the construction landscape is like for today’s women professionals.
Give us a snapshot of the construction market today? What are you seeing out there?
We’re still dealing with impacts from 2020 and, in my opinion, will continue to experience challenges into 2022 (material, labor, etc.). Although volume was technically down in a 2020 versus 2021 Q1 comparison, we’re starting to see high levels of intent from our customers again.
With projects beginning and the demand for material increasing, it’s going to be interesting to see how we as an industry support one another through these challenges.
How did you get started in the industry? What is your story?
I grew up on construction sites, shadowing my father and now business partner, Roy. In the era of “Bring your Child to Work Day,” I loved having another opportunity to visit the project(s) my father had been working on. During these visits, I grew to appreciate the hard work and overall impact I saw. At a young age, there was something powerful about witnessing how a project would start and what it would turn into. Later, learning the impact construction can have on people’s lives.
Knowing that construction had always been an interest of mine, I continued to explore the impact of this industry by participating and leading trips abroad, eventually leading me to the start of Brahma Roofing and Construction.
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen over the past few years?
Most people have heard this before, but skilled labor, material shortages and delivery delays continue to challenge our industry. As a result, mitigating these issues is a daily discussion so we can do our best to stay ahead of the curve.
Women are capable of whatever they set their minds to. For anyone seeking new opportunities, consider what you enjoy and where you feel you could make the most impact. Then
Name some of the opportunities available for women in the industry?
Women are capable of whatever they set their minds to. For anyone seeking new opportunities, consider what you enjoy and where you feel you could make the most impact. Then, start talking to other people in our industry and outside of it about what would fill your cup. By having these conversations, you’ll be able to further clarify what it is you want to achieve and how you’ll achieve it. Once you’re confident in the direction you want to go, take the leap.
What challenges remain?
Part of the reason why women don’t make up a larger percentage of our industry is due to the hiring pool. How can businesses onboard more women, when there aren’t enough women applying to fulfill those roles? It’s part of the struggle we’re seeing in our own hiring process, even being women-owned.
So, the challenge that remains is associated with education; educating the next generation of women of opportunities within our industry, helping them understand that they do belong and they can thrive.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I grew up playing competitive soccer, and although I was never the largest player (physically), I found ways to compete with those who were much bigger than myself. So, when I was leaving for my freshman year’s college pre-season at the University of Illinois, my father said to me, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” and that has stuck with me ever since.
That mindset has given me the confidence to take risks, fail and get better. A mindset that remains at the core of Brahma Roofing and Construction.
What’s the advice you would share with women just coming up in the industry?
Find someone that inspires you, then ask them to be your mentor. If they say yes, great. If they say no, they already taught you your first lesson in business—rejection. There’s a misconception in business that everything has to be done on our own, when in fact, we’re so much stronger together. So, I’d encourage those coming up in the industry to join organizations, invest in relationships, ask questions and never stop learning.
What’s the biggest lesson the past year has taught you?
Compassion is courageous. It’s easy to look at our industry and fall into preconceived ideas of what it’s “supposed to be”: rough, tough and emotionless. When in reality, there is so much human connection in what we do.
Last year was full of conflict, doubt and fear. As a result, people began to withdraw themselves from others, which had impacts on families, businesses, mental health and so much more. So, as we charged through the ever changing climate of 2020, we did so with compassion.
Compassion for people’s fears, frustrations, needs and loss. Through this, we were able to connect with people that may have wanted to withdraw, but felt comfortable enough to lean in. Ultimately, guiding us to long-lasting partnerships full of trust and hope. Because, when you show compassion in times of turmoil, people remember how you made them feel.
What’s the biggest item on your to-do list?
Finalize my WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) application. It’s been on my list for quite some time and I’m dedicated to completing it.