Denise Angelakos thrives as project manager with construction site energy
Ontario Construction Report special feature
Denise Angelakos discovered her career in construction through an interest in math and technical courses. More than a decade later she is still hooked by the construction site’s energy and the passion of the people she meets as a Kenaidan Contracting Ltd. project manager.
Angelakos says a high school project intended to explore the different engineering disciplines first exposed her to civil engineering and construction. “I ended up at the University of Waterloo in the co-op civil engineering program and found I loved being on site, on working with people with different personalities and passions and seeing everything come together.”
She says, though people suggested a few times that as a woman she might prefer a consulting role, she always knew a desk job was not in her future. She says she would rather be on the ground solving problems and dealing with issues. “There is a definite vibe to a construction site, a heartbeat almost that you don’t get in an office,” she said.
Angelakos says it took time to establish herself within the industry but she now works with a team where everyone understands the value of each other’s role and people are supportive of her as a key decision-maker. Part of that is because of Kenaidan’s culture.
“Kenaidan is very strong in promoting careers in construction to women,” she said. “The company understands that women bring different perspective, negotiating skills, problem solving skills and create a different level of cohesiveness in teams that benefits the company.”
She says Kenaidan supports a family/work life balance and experienced this herself when she took time away to raise a family without being ‘benched’ on her return because of her time away.
Angelakos says leaving work and coming back can take a passion and commitment to the job but Kenaidan makes the transition easier through the flexibility it allows. “That flexibility is important to everyone but especially women because at the end of the day, much of the responsibility for the family, in many cases, still falls to women.”
The heavy demands on construction sites today to achieve deadlines and keep projects moving regardless of circumstances presents both challenges to be resolved and, according to Angelakos, opportunities to collaborate and find success as part of a team.
She says this is a challenging career but at the end of the day very satisfying and in her opinion, the best discipline from the engineering side.
Angelakos is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO). She says the association has just launched a Women in Engineering program to, as Kenaidan does, attract more women into the field. “Being able to hear other’s women’s challenges and successes, to get the perspective of women in the industry, is very important.”