She first discovered her interest in construction through a high school aptitude test that identified her propensity towards reading plans and architecture. Typical for the era, she was discouraged to pursue a career meant only for men. She acquiesced and went to business school, landing an administration position at a Life Insurance company upon graduation. After three years of promotions, she hit her maximum potential and recognized it was time to move on.
It seems like fate that her next role was at Lee Kennedy Company. In 1983 you could probably count on your right hand the amount of women in the industry at that time, so it was considered pretty progressive. With-out much of a defined role, she concentrated on learning as much as she could through work experience and earning her Associates Degree at Wentworth and her unrestricted Construction Supervisor's Ma State Builder's License. She naturally worked her way into positions of greater responsibility, eventually becoming V.P. of Tenant Construction.
After 16 years of success at Lee Kennedy, Rose decided to venture out and broaden her skills by working on the owners’ side at Trammel Crow. She reflects that although the timing wasn’t so great, (she was laid off due to the recession three years later) the experience offered immense insight and made her a much better contractor.
In 2002 she joined Payton Construction as Project Executive where she led a team on large corporate accounts for five years and a multitude of other projects. Unfortunately the Boston- based company suffered $15 million in losses resulting primarily from residential projects and after 21 years in business closed their doors. This too had been a learning experience that made her stronger!
By now, Rose had more than earned her stripes. She was well respected in the industry with an impressive track record so it was no surprise that she was immediately hired by BOND as Director of Interiors. This was a new group for the company and during her seven years of tenure she successfully managed a considerable quantity of interior corporate fit-outs, institutional projects and building infrastructure upgrades. It was also during this time that she returned to Wentworth for her Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management-all while juggling her career and family.
Always one to keep challenging herself, in 2014 she made the decision to return to her roots and rejoined Lee Kennedy as Director of Interiors & Special Projects. During the 15 years she was away from the Company, Lee Kennedy grew into a $300 Million Dollar firm and her re-entry has helped Lee Kennedy Company grow the Interior and Special Projects Group into over a $100 Million Dollar Division of the firm. She complements the existing Senior Management Team and leads a strong project delivery team who prioritizes customer satisfaction and standards of excellence. Her role entails managing the RFP stage in pricing and bidding, acting as a key member of the interview process, leads pre-con, and closely supervises scheduling and budgets. She also serves as a mentor to less experienced employees, serves as a Corporator, Director of the Alumni Association and on the Long Range Planning committee at her alma mater, Wentworth Institute of Technology among a long list of committees she chairs and co-chairs. Rose is on the executive committee for BWiC.
Having such a distinctive career does not come with-out its challenges and sacrifices. As one of the few women in the industry she had to prove herself continually. Working long hours and going back to school with a husband and two children at home was not easy. She viewed many family moments and events by video. Flex time was never an option, work life balance had not been invented, and there was no email, computers or maternity pay! Fortunately for her, Rose had a strong network of family support and a few mentors along the way that encouraged her to remain focused on her passion.
As for advice, she has a long list that includes; be diligent, ask questions, be thick skinned, bring your very best and have fun! She also recommends networking and treating people with respect—and says “it’s a big industry but a small community”.
She is also proud to share that her children, now young adults, have found similar passions in their own career paths, although not in the construction industry. “It’s a humbling experience looking back on my life and career and I’ve been blessed with incredible projects, clients, team mates and friendships lasting 30 years.”
The way Rose is going, those blessings will continue for many, many years!
Thank you Rose for sharing your experiences and contributing to our mission of Building Women in Construction!