Written by Cheryl Savit, Savvy Words for KitchenVisions
The fifth Annual Women in Residential Remodeling (WiRR) event took place at the Lyman Estate on Tuesday, November 8th, featuring guest speakers Emma Tiedemann, Director of Broadcasting for the Portland Sea Dogs, and Katie Krall, Development Coach for the Boston Red Sox. Both women are part of a ceiling-busting trend in professional sports, a traditionally male-dominated field, not unlike women in the remodeling industry. The WiRR event is one of PRO NE’s most popular, with 70 people in attendance this year.
An article in the Wall Street Journal that mentioned both of the guest speakers sparked the idea for the 2022 WiRR event. Allison Iantosca, President of F.H. Perry Builder, led the discussion with Emma and Katie. Emma joined the group in person while Katie appeared via computer from her home in Chicago, where she recently completed her MBA at the University of Chicago. As two women breaking ground in professional baseball, each spoke about what it is like to be a role model.
While neither woman wants to be “the story,” they have both received attention from the press. Their preference is to have what they do be seen as a normal evolution. They were both struck by conversations with fathers attending ball games who introduced their daughters to them, acknowledging their trail-blazing roles. Emma is starting a mentorship program to open the door for the next generation of female baseball broadcasters.
Both Katie and Emma had someone in their families introduce them to the sport and to the possibility of becoming a broadcaster and on-field coach. “My grandfather put earphones on me and said, ‘try this,’” Emma said. That experience opened up an option for her that she might not have considered. In college, she began broadcasting games to gain experience. Internships and seasonal jobs from Alaska to Lexington, KY, with a few in between, led to her current role. Not only did Emma follow her passion, but she picked up as much knowledge and experience as she could along the way.
Katie and Emma said that being willing to learn and being candid with themselves about their performance has been important in their career growth. Both women always ask peers and others they respect for feedback.
Katie’s path to the field began with a front office position in marketing, but her passion was stoked by the book, “Money Ball.” She joked that she is the female version of Jonah Hill from the movie. Katie described her first time in uniform as being “surreal and powerful.” She’s learned to be supportive of the players she coaches but also to recognize the players’ space. “The advice I received and follow is to protect your own peace in the clubhouse and respect others’ [peace].”
BREAK-OUT GROUPS AND TAKEAWAYS
After the presentation, the audience split into Break-out Groups to discuss takeaways from Katie and Emma. The seven groups were led by Beezee Honan of Designer Bath, Megan Hoffman of J.P. Hoffman Design Build, Cathy Follett of Renovisions, Laura Burnes of Adams + Beasley Associates, Amanda LaRose of Studio Bowerbird, Kathy DeMeyer of Encore Construction, and Michelle Glassburn of Lavallee Systems.
Key takeaways from the presentation offered by the break-out groups:
- The theme of doing something out of the ordinary struck many chords
- Working harder than our male counterparts in order to get a position or keep a position was a recurring topic
- Different ways women handle situations versus men, i.e., conflict, structural changes, etc.
- The topic of authenticity came up often as in – be yourself and don’t try to be what would be expected of a man in a similar role
- There are expectations for what career women should choose and then expectations for the way women behave in our industry
- Acceptance by peers, as well as those higher in management and those coming up the ladder behind
- Being a role model but not wanting to be seen as a ‘token’ woman in any role
- The idea of incremental changes leading to a paradigm shift also came up again and again
- Mentoring other women was another important topic brought up as a takeaway, and the group felt that women could be doing a better job of getting more women involved in the remodeling industry and trades
- Another topic was having understanding and compassion for the men we work with yet guiding change
- Several groups talked about company culture – those that encourage women and those not there yet
- Younger men and women seem to be more accepting of the “normalization”
- Bridging the gap between men and women. Women want to invite men into our spaces and into conversations. Each brings our inherent strengths to support and augment the best outcome for our clients and the best working environment for our teams.
- The biggest takeaway that was a consensus by all groups concentrated on the idea of normalization – what will it look like when women in these industries (remodeling and baseball) are completely the norm? Will we lose our specialness?
As the lone male in attendance, Eric Adams of Adams + Beasley Associates admitted to being somewhat intimidated to be the only man present but also honored to be at the event. As someone raised by exceptional women, Eric says he knows the importance of women’s voices in his company, the industry, and universally, and all are stronger for it.
The program inspired all of the attendees and spurred lively conversations for the rest of the afternoon. A traditional tea menu with a twist was served (tea sandwiches along with petit pumpkin mousses and caramel corn cones), catered by Max Ultimate caterers.
Thank you to Gold Sponsors Lavallee Systems, Dovercraft Inc., and Adams + Beasley Associates; Silver Sponsors Designer Bath, F.D. Sterritt Lumber Co., and Splash; Bronze Sponsors Encore Construction, Kohler, and Renovisions. Thank you to program advisors Michelle Glassburn, Beezee Honan, and Allison Iantosca. And a huge thank you to Joanne Roy for coordinating the event.