Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Women in Architecture: Be Assertive - Part 2

Monday, February 11th was my first day back to work after my weekend in Virginia.  I had a meeting right at 8am, so I had to be to work at 7am.  It was kind of rough, especially since this was day two of waking up at 5am, but I made it to work on time.  School M is about to be bidded out, so the client wanted to meet with us and the civil engineer to discuss how we would handle the construction phase in the summer.  When we arrived, the client; the school administrators; and other important players had already began the meeting.  Little did my boss and I know that the meeting we were going to was a presentation to show the administrators how we were improving their school!

After we sat down, my boss and I tried to come up with a game plan: Do we have to present and if we do, who was going to do it.  Then my boss asked me "Chela, do you want to do it?"  Without hesitation and remembering our talk about "Being Assertive,"  I said "yes."  I know this project like the back of my hand, but I only communicated to the client about it through email.  On the phone, my boss usually handled the meetings while I listened in and took notes.  It was finally my chance to show that I represented the company.

Five minutes after we arrived, the civil engineer had finished his presentation and the client said that we were next.  To keep me on my toes, I grabbed a letter that had my scope of work for School M and went to the front of the room.  When I do a presentation, I have a level of nervousness:

1 (lowest level) - Fully prepared.
5 (mid level) - Presenting to people I know.  I'm nervous because I'm presenting, but I can be myself since I know everyone.  
10 (highest level) - Life changing presentation that can make or break my career.  At this point I look like I just took a swim in my suit.

This presentation was a 3.  Not only did I have to present the Architectural drawings, but I had to present the information on my Electrical and Mechanical Engineer's drawing.  My Engineers didn't come to the meeting so it was up to me.  Usually when I don't know something, I get quiet.  But because I was in front of my client and I was the Project Manager, I had to present what I did know.  I spoke loud, smiled, made eye contact, and because I had my scope of work letter and my boss to assist me with the Engineering portion - I was confident.  And I think I did a pretty good job.  My boss was even surprised.

After the meeting, I was introduced as the Project Manager to the administrators and they told me that they looked forward to the construction.

I think I'm getting the hang of this!

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