Monday, September 10, 2007

She keeps the work on schedule

Note from Steve: This is another of my oldest and dearest friends. She was recently one of the subjects of a newspaper article on men and women who fill nontraditional roles in their places of work.

Erinn Hutkin
The Roanoke Times


The atmosphere often changes when she steps onto a job site.

Suddenly, hard-hat-wearing construction workers apologize when they curse. They also don't chew. Or spit.

At 33, Angie Baughman is the only female project manager for Roanoke's Lionberger Construction. In May, she earned her master's degree in construction management from Virginia Tech after a short career as an architect.

Her job means overseeing several projects at once -- right now, it's the renovation of a Blacksburg church and building new retail space at Valley View Mall.

While an on-site supervisor runs daily operations at a job site, it's up to Baughman to handle the budget and the bills, correspond with architects, line up subcontractors and compile estimates.

Essentially, she's charged with keeping the guys working, keeping the job on schedule and making money.

"It ultimately rests on my shoulders to make sure it happens," she said.

After working in architecture for five years, Baughman decided she didn't like spending her days in front of a computer. Architects she worked for in Roanoke encouraged her to return to school for a master's in construction, leading her to attend classes while working full time.

She quit her job in December 2006, planning to focus on school. A week later, she received an e-mail about a part-time job at Lionberger from her department head at Tech. Starting work part-time, she thinks, eased her transition as a woman. And in construction, she found everything she felt her former career lacked.

"I get to go to the job. I get to talk to the guys. I get to see the project happen," she explained. "I like being able to keep busy on the job."

Even in school, Baughman knew she was outnumbered. She estimates 75 percent of students in her master's program were men. Even when there were speakers from construction companies, seeing a woman was rare.

Yet when she decided to switch careers, no one was less surprised than Baughman's mom. She knows her daughter is a self-proclaimed tomboy who hates shopping, except for a weakness for shoes. Baughman loves sports -- helping coach high school soccer and playing pick-up basketball. With her dad, she is making improvements on her Roanoke house.

On the job, Baughman tries to balance being confident with taking the guys' advice. If a man with 20 years' experience tells her a certain fastener will work, she'll likely listen.

On the other hand, she believes some guys at a site will ask her questions just to see if she knows the answer.

"You're a little bit discriminated against at first until people know you," she said.

A few weeks ago, for instance, Baughman was picking up a tape measure at Lowe's. A couple of guys saw her shopping and tried telling her, "Honey, you need this one."

Baughman just let them talk.

There's time enough for them to figure out she's the boss.


  1. Hey Steve,

    Did you get my Happy Birthday wish on your myspace account? I've enjoyed seeing the pictures of Todd (and his family's) visit with you. And the article about Angie was really cool. I hope you are doing good.

    I have a little bit of news. I am now a licensed architect in the state of South Carolina. I got the results of my final test on your birthday actually.

    Take care.

  2. Congrats on your registration! Just about everybody from our group is registered now (except me, of course, but it's all good)

    Frome your blogs, I can tell things are going well. I'm doing good too, but it seems like I never have any time anymore for much of anything. Myabe perpetual motion will pay off eventually. :-)

    Talk soon.