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Jennifer Collazo-Benitez, Senior AssociateJennifer Collazo is a Director in our Orlando office with particular expertise in pharmaceutical infrastructure projects. She provides project controls, project management, risk analysis/assessments, and scheduling in this sector. Jennifer has managed actual and forecasted project progress and performance as well as direct and indirect costs, including management estimates, current budgets, and forecasted expenditures. Project control functions included scoping, planning, scheduling, change control, report development, problem identification, and resolution support.

What got you interested in this industry?

I earned good grades at school, especially in math and science. Thanks to my mom, who was the first person to see my potential, I applied to an engineering program. I chose civil engineering for the opportunity to participate in a project that you could see (a priority for the 17-year-old me), like a bridge or a building, and be part of it from its design to the final stages of construction.

Are there certain challenges you feel that you’ve faced being a minority in this industry?

To this day, I am sometimes the only woman at a meeting! Having studied among a majority of men, I got used to standing my ground, making my voice recognized, and demanding respect with my arguments. The best way to have everyone respect you in this field is if you speak with knowledge.

Was there anyone who mentored you at any point during your early days either in college or in the workforce? If so, can you tell us more about that?

I acknowledge my first boss with great affection and gratitude because he saw the future in project controls. Since the first day I worked with him, he guided me to cost controls. Working with him was a privilege. The second and especially important mentor was a woman who directed the project controls department for a big company and brought order, organization, and uniformity to it. Under her guidance, she provided me with opportunities to grow and develop in the cost and schedule branches of project controls. Thanks to her, I became a more well-rounded professional, which helped me in other endeavors.

Do you have any general advice you would give anyone trying to enter or grow in the industry?

My advice to anyone who wants to grow in this industry would be to study. Never stop learning. This can be done in a formal environment, but it could also be on the job, looking for opportunities outside your comfort zone. Find someone whom you admire and learn from them. There is something wonderful about looking at someone at work, you learn about their habits and work ethic.