Sara Abolhassani is a Senior Associate in our San Francisco office whose work at PMA includes airports/aviation, corporate facilities, rail, and water projects. She is a project controls specialist with significant experience in the engineering, procurement, and construction phases. Sara is a certified project management professional (PMP) and has expertise in applying thorough knowledge of project management, planning, controls, cost engineering, risk, and earned value management (EVM).
What got you interested in this industry?
I can tell you that the construction industry is a vital component of any economy. It plays a critical role in the development of infrastructure, buildings, and other structures that are necessary for modern society. Since the industry has an ability to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in all regions of the world it has allowed me to eventually move to the United States.
Are there certain challenges you feel that you’ve faced being a minority in this industry?
I do eventually want to get into business development. As a female minority, I feel there has been some limitation in my ability to network and make personal connections that would help with developing my business development skills and professional contacts.
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?
My first manager after college graduation was a great mentor. He helped me understand what I really liked and eventually through his mentorship I decided to change from engineering to project controls as it better fit my personality and interests. Most importantly he encouraged me to immigrate to Canada. In fact, he helped make legal connections for me so that I could eventually immigrate.
Did you act as a mentor (either formally or informally) for another woman during their early days in the industry? If so, can you tell us more about that?
In an informal role, I try to help other women by talking about my experience and challenges that I have faced and how I overcame them. I try to provide encouragement and support to boost their confidence and to help them set goals and create a roadmap for achieving such goals.
Do you have any general advice you would give anyone trying to enter or grow in the industry?
Some general pieces of advice that could be helpful: building knowledge with new technologies and regulations; getting hands-on experience; looking for internships, apprenticeships, or entry-level positions to get practical experience and to learn from more experienced professionals; building your network by attending industry events, joining professional associations, and connecting with other professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn; finding a mentor; being adaptable and flexible; and being safety-conscious.