PWC hosts forum with new construction chiefs.
A highly enthusiastic group of 300 crowded the room, eager to shake hands and exchange business cards with commissioners, corporate executives and other high level government officials and private industry leaders.
"We're adding 'new' to the title of this year's event because in this industry major changes occur almost daily. Each shift in power must be noted and interpreted. Our members count on PWC to keep them on top of the headlines," said Lenore Janis, president of PWC.
The drawing power of PWC and Janis also explains the event's widespread popularity.
Cathleen Cotella, president of Hazardous Elimination Corporation, said "Nobody is able to pull together the people we want to meet better than Lenore. She knows how to create the excitement. A lot of women's organizations give lip service about being advocates for women. PWC gets into the trenches with you and walks with you."
"Who else but Lenore can bring out people like this and put them all together?" said Carol Kronman, publisher of The Kronman Letter.
Luis Tormenta, P. E., commissioner of the Department of Design similarly high praise for PWC. "This organization speaks with one voice that we, as a government agency, can respond to, one that gives us feedback. We know PWC represents a wide sector of the industry. They help guide our decisions."
Lloyd Douglas, a minority business consultant, said "I think PWC is one of the best advocacy organizations for women-owned businesses in New York."
When the organization was founded in 1980, PWC was trying to swim against the tide of a male-dominated industry. Today the industry - thanks, in part, to the efforts of PWC - seems to be increasingly accepting of women in high echelon positions, as it recognizes the ability of women in construction and related fields.
Frank Sheridan, director of Facilities Planning and Development with the New York State Department of Correctional Services, travelled from Albany with Facility Planner Fred Brady for the event. He calls PWC's goals "An idea whose time has come. People should have dreams. PWC and events such as this say to women 'There is someone to look up to. There's a future for women in all the areas that were relegated to men.' Lenore and PWC are in the forefront of making it happen."
Diana Chapin, First Deputy Commissioner with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said "It's important to support women in construction, the building trades and in government because these are non-traditional fields. DEP has a $1.5 billion budget - this is an opportunity for women to find out how to do business with us."
Janine Kourakos, vice president of the New York Building Congress, agreed. "The more we know about the different concerns in the industry, the better we can represent our members. To be a congress we need the most diverse presentation possible - that includes women, minorities, everyone," she said.
The need to recognize the importance of small businesses which may be women- or minority-owned, was noted by Michael Seigfried, director of Construction at the New Jersey Department of Transportation. "It seems that our new ideas come from the smaller businesses because they try harder," he said.
Placing public and private sectors in face-to-face contact was a great part of the event's appeal, said Bert Tablante, an attorney and partner with Alvy Tablante and Aquino. "This allowed the private sector to meet public officials in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. Once you've met you're on a first-name basis, which can be very helpful in business," he said.
Indeed, for many, the drawing card was the rare networking opportunities the evening provided.
Earl Andrews, commissioner of the Department of Business Services, said "It gives us a chance to talk to people who are in the trenches and see how our agency can work with them. Government can't just sit in an office and wait for people to come to it - we've got to be responsive and reach out."
Cody Eckert, a partner with Cody Eckert Associates & Buannono, said "I'm meeting people today whom I've contacted through letters and phone calls. It saves a tremendous amount of time. The efficiency factor is excellent."
Joe Hoffman, vice president at Hill International, said "I believe in networking. A resume is not enough. Seeing someone in person is much better. Also, I want to see that glass ceiling get cracked. Women deserve the chance."
"And PWC is here to make sure they get it," said Janis.
Sponsors of the event were: A fridi Associates; Altus Metal & Marble Maintenance; Con Edison; Goetz Fitzpatrick Carbone Eiseman Finegan & Rubin; Hazardous Elimination Corp.; The Kronman Letter; New York Construction News; Peckar & Abramson; Raytheon Engineers & Constructors; Stateside Construction; Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers; and Zetlin & De Chiara LLP.