Alejandra Ramos is a field administrator for Skanska in North Texas. She is the responsible party for several areas of the construction process in the field and administratively. Prior to beginning her career with Skanska, she worked in her family’s construction and landscaping businesses. She has always enjoyed the many aspects of construction and knew from a young age that she wanted to work in the field. She is a proud graduate of the University of Arlington, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management.
More than 135 years in the making, Skanska Group is one of the largest construction and development companies in the world. With offices in San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, Skanska operates as a local Texas builder and developer backed by a strong global brand, financial strength, and a vast network of resources.
For our latest Faces of EHS profile, we sat down with Alejandra to discuss how she got her start in the construction industry, building a top-down safety culture, and how ESG will increase the need for EHS professionals.
Q: How did you get your start in the field?
I got an early start in the construction industry. My family immigrated to the United States from Mexico when I was three and my dad first started to work in a landscaping business. Then, he moved into carpentry, helping investors with the creation of custom homes. When my father began helping investors flip foreclosed homes, I would help translate the legal documents due to the language barrier. It was very easy for me to go into construction because I have been surrounded by it my entire life. It was only natural for me to pursue a career in construction.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence in the industry?
My father has been my biggest influence. My entire family worked together to make our American dream come true. Through his example, I saw his hard work and perseverance pay off.
Q: What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?
At first, I was concerned about working in the family business despite the desire to work in the field of construction. I initially turned down requests from my family to assist in the business and use my administrative experience. When I finally put aside my apprehensions, I discovered I had a great deal to contribute. I now realize decisions about how to move forward, both in life and career, should be made based on the facts and not emotions. That lesson aided me in determining a clear career path and mapping out a plan to achieve those goals here at Skanska.
Q: What’s your favorite and least favorite part about working in the industry? Would you change anything?
My favorite and least favorite thing about the industry is the same thing. As a woman, I feel like I need to prove myself. The people I work with have been nothing but supportive, but I knew as a woman in construction, I needed to show up to the job site ready to put in my best effort, but that is what all of us should do every day.
I also love being a woman in the industry because we are able to provide different insights. Working together with our innate strengths makes this job the best!
Q: What are your thoughts on safety culture? How can company leaders make safety a value within their organization?
I’m lucky enough to work for an organization where safety is the top priority. At Skanska, it is who every person is within our organization and embedded in our culture from the top down. I think if any organization wants a safety culture, it must be embraced and constantly reinforced. Safety, which may add extra time to a project, should be built into every project proposal and be authentically communicated in every pursuit.
Q: What safety concerns or issues do you think need more prioritization in EHS programs?
In my job, I’m always looking out for people. Since I regularly interact with subcontractors and vendors, I think it is always important to ensure our company’s safety standards become their safety standards. We have a very good training process for our vendors, but everyone on the job must do their part to make sure we are working in the safest way possible.
Q: What will be the impact of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles on the EHS industry?
These principles have emerged as key determinants of corporate success and have the potential to reshape our world in a more sustainable and equitable manner. In fact, ESG principles may lead to an increased demand for EHS professionals as companies strive to meet sustainability and social responsibility goals. It is essential that companies embrace ESG principles to enhance their business reputation, reduce exposure to risks, and drive long-term growth.
Q: How will new safety technologies influence the work being done by EHS professionals?
New safety technologies can help EHS professionals improve their training programs and monitor compliance with safety regulations more effectively.
New technologies can enable EHS professionals to collect and analyze data about workplace safety, which can be analyzed to identify patterns and trends, helping identify potential hazards and take steps to mitigate them. Overall, it will help EHS professionals with powerful tools to improve safety conditions in the workplace, reduce the risk of accidents and ensure compliance with safety regulations.
Q: What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of following my dreams. Coming to a new country at a young age was an eye-opening experience. But I learned how to work hard alongside my family to make a successful business. And now I carry on the passion for the construction industry that my dad instilled in me. I was able to graduate high school in the top 10 and graduate college so I could pursue my passion at a new level, and I look forward to continuing to climb the ladder.
Q: Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
My advice to anyone entering the profession is to be curious, ask questions and always be willing to learn. There are so many things you can learn on a job site, especially from your leadership. The skills you learn at the beginning of your career will serve as building blocks. Take every moment and morsel of information in; you never know when you might need it!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Many times, I’m asked what it is like to work in the construction industry. Honestly, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I think you need to come into this industry ready to learn from leadership and colleagues, not be afraid to speak up and be willing to work hard. Yes, there may not be as many women in the industry, but I don’t see being a woman as a challenge. We are all ready to work together so we can have a successful build.