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B&A Women: Valued Employees, Strong Mothers

Bulley & Andrews believes building matters, so does equality and opportunity in the workplace. According to the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), women working in construction made up 1.5 percent of the entire U.S. workforce in 2018. And while progress has been made, improvements are still needed to ensure our industry is diverse and inclusive.

While it is not the only strategy to make way for inclusivity, supporting women who are also parents is a priority at Bulley & Andrews. In honor of Mother’s Day, B&A recognizes the 37% of our females employees who are working mothers, their maternal bonds and the influence they have on our organization and industry. In celebration of the holiday and everything they do for B&A and their own families, meet five of B&A’s valued employees who just happen to also be mothers.

Pam Patterson | Senior Administrative Insurance Coordinator
Tenure with B&A: 20 Years
Mother of three: Antjuan, 32; Aaron, 29; Amber, 22

Dedicating specific hours to work and personal life during the day has helped Pam Patterson, Senior Administrative Insurance Coordinator, devote time with all of her children, including her youngest, Amber.

What does being a mother mean to you? 

Being a mother means everything. It’s about sacrifice, loving unconditionally and cherishing every moment with my children.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced balancing your work and personal life?

I have balanced my personal and professional life very well. Communicating, asking for support and being very clear about certain concerns upfront are key factors.  I have learned to take charge of anything uncomfortable and have a new way at looking at life.

How has Bulley & Andrews supported you as a not only an employee but as a mom?

Bulley & Andrews allowed me to have flexibility within my schedule while raising my children.  They have always been supportive and concerned.

What advice would you give to others as they strive to balance their personal and professional lives? 

Prioritize the important things in your life and realize everything is not going to be perfect.  You will need to do things based off of your strengths and not be so hard on yourself.  Taking time for yourself and what’s important will help give you the balance that you need.  Having certain hours dedicated to work and your personal time is key.  Setting boundaries will also allow you to keep yourself accountable and keep you on the right track.

Sloan Watson | Marketing Director
Tenure with B&A: 21 Years
Mother of three: Maclaine, 17; Lily, 15; Owen 13

Taking PTO without feeling a sense of guilt being away from the office is something Sloan Watson, Marketing Director, prioritizes. Being in the moment with family, without any distractions, are the memories that are most meaningful for her.

How has Bulley & Andrews supported you as a not only an employee but as a parent?

When I was expecting our first child, my direct report was a progressive thinker and straightforward in engaging me in conversation about the changes ahead.  He started a dialogue about how B&A might be able to support my ability to continue my career while also being the kind of parent I envisioned.  His proactive approach made me feel valued and sent a strong message that the firm had confidence that I could do both.  Having this latitude encouraged me to seek out best practices and formulate ideas that would prove mutually beneficial as we raised our family.  Having the ability to craft an alternative schedule has allowed me to mitigate my commute time significantly while also creating an avenue for me to be more involved in our kids daily lives. How B&A supported what was, at the time, a relatively progressive arrangement is a pillar of my loyalty to the organization.

What is the best part of being a parent?

Seeing who your children become as people.  I was never hung up on wanting a certain gender, I was more interested to see how they would unfold as individuals.  It adds to the fun and dynamic that we have a kid that’s into dance, photography, hiking and making jewelry, another who plays lacrosse, has great comedic timing and loves animals, and yet another who is mechanically inclined, likes almost any group sport and has an appreciation for a good jump scare or practical joke.

What are some of the misconceptions you’ve heard about being a working mother?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that you’ll be frazzled all the time or feel stretched too thin.  Yes, it’s stressful at times but when I got more comfortable asking for help, it took some of the pressure off.  Also, taking stock of how my husband and I are genuinely willing to help others when we can makes me feel less reluctant or guilty about asking for a favor.

What are some lessons/best practices you’ve implemented at work that have been applicable to your role as a parent?

Trying to be more objective.  I often see that there isn’t just one way to do or approach something.  As a result, I think I’ve been more open-minded about some of my kids’ choices and have given them more latitude to take different paths.

Ántonia Winfrey | Project Manager
Tenure with B&A: 1 Year
Mother of two: Rudy, 2.5; Theo, 3.5 months

Ántonia Winfrey, Project Manager, will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day as a mother of two this year. Last year, her husband and oldest son, Rudy, took to the park to celebrate.

What does being a mother mean to you?

I am an investor. I invest my knowledge, time and love into my family with the hope that they will be better versions of my husband and me. This long term investment will pay off with having upstanding gentlemen.

How has Bulley & Andrews supported you as a not only an employee but as a mom? 

Leaps and bounds above my expectations. Family matters to B&A and they’ve never made me feel like I needed to put my family second.

What’s one word that describes your family? 

Steadfast.

What are some of the misconceptions you’ve heard about being a working mother?

Giving up your dreams. Or settling for where you are in your career. Before I had kids, I thought that children would impede my career. However, I think it makes me a better employee because my focus of what’s important has changed. 

Bernadette Sral | Project Accountant
Tenure with B&A: 2 Years
Mother of two: Penelope, 5; Paisley, 3

Bernadette Sral, Project Accountant, poses with her two young daughters she describes as “vibrant and tireless .”

What does being a mother mean to you?

To me, being a mother means so many different things. It means unconditional love, responsibility, selflessness and sacrifice. It means being a teacher, disciplinarian, protector and a friend all at the same time. It means providing my daughters with all the tools and knowledge to prepare for and succeed in life…no pressure or anything. 

How has Bulley & Andrews supported you as a not only an employee but as a mom? 

I grew up in a single-parent home. My mom was never able to come to any of my softball games, Christmas pageants, award ceremonies or graduations. I am incredibly fortunate to work for an organization with a family-friendly culture. B&A has been very understanding of my obligations outside of work and has been very generous in allowing me to have a flexible schedule so that I don’t miss any of those special moments in my children’s lives.

What is the single most important lesson you’ve learned balancing parenting and a full-time job?

For me, work/life balance has always been a struggle. I don’t know how to give less than 100% as an employee or less than 100% as a mom. So it’s not so much a work/life balance, it’s more of a work/life integration. It’s not about finding a perfect balance. It’s integrating across all aspects of life so I can bring my whole self into everything I do.

What are some lessons/best practices you’ve implemented at work that have been applicable to your role as a parent?

One of the most important rules I instill in my children is to treat others as you want to be treated. Also, one of the things that my kids have taught me is to always be curious and ask questions. Our natural curiosity drives us to consistently learn.

Kirstin Starkey | HR Director
Tenure with B&A: 4 Years
Mother of two: Danielle, 20; Brandon, 17

According to Kirstin Starkey (left), HR Director, even with older kids, there are times when when your family life needs to take priority and other times work might need more of your attention. The key is to accept and be comfortable with that reality.

How has Bulley & Andrews supported you as a not only an employee but as a parent?

When I joined B&A four years ago, I was impressed with the firm’s long-standing history within the community and the family culture.  During my interview, I remember Allan E. Bulley, III telling me that Bulley & Andrews was a place where family comes first.  That same year, my son made the high school baseball team.  I was grateful that I had the flexibility to adjust my schedule to make his games. This year, the high school baseball season never happened.  It makes the memories of his previous years on the team all the more special.  I have always felt supported by the leadership team that I could take the time I needed to focus on family activities and events.

What is the single most important lesson you’ve learned balancing parenting and a full-time job?

Forgive yourself.  A lot of times, women tend to be their own worst critic.  I remember always feeling guilty when the kids were younger.  I wanted to be the best parent and have a successful career.  At some point you realize that no one is perfect.  You do the best you can and accept support from family and friends. There are times when work needs more of your attention and there are times when your family life takes priority. The key is to accept and be comfortable with that reality.

What are some lessons/best practices you implement via parenting that you’ve been able to apply to your working relationships/work ethic?  

There are so many parallels that can be drawn between the two.  I can truly say that being a parent has made me a better employee.  It really comes down to the basics:  be respectful to others, have empathy and always try your personal best.  And communication is key to avoiding conflicts and misunderstandings.

What advice would you give to others as they strive to balance their personal and professional lives?

You can’t turn back time, your kids are only young once, and don’t have any regrets.