We recently met with Faith Walters, operations manager from our Beaumont, Texas office to discuss her expertise with asphalt and what it means to her to be an employee owner.
What does it mean to you to be a successful woman in such a male-dominated field?
I’ve been a tomboy my whole life, but people were always surprised when they saw me come to the field. I was fascinated with how many tests you can run on aggregates and soil, so I wanted to learn everything I could get my hands on. I’ve always been the only girl until I joined Braun Intertec. Being a female in the construction field gives me more drive to prove that I can do what everyone else can.
Tell us about your background.
I turned toward this career path because my dad has worked for a construction company since I was five years old, taking me on jobsites and to the asphalt plants. I started by dispatching, then went and worked in an asphalt lab. After that, I moved to testing concrete and soils in a private lab. I’ve worked all over in this field! Before joining Braun Intertec, I also worked with Bryan Landers on some Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) projects where I did the quality control work for asphalt. I have also gotten to do some stormwater and environmental work on top of that. I’ve been at Braun Intertec for two years now!
What can you tell us about your expertise in asphalt?
I started learning about asphalt at the previous company I worked for; I was hired to oversee the quality control over their asphalt plant. I still get to do a lot of mix design work here, too. In the Beaumont, Texas area, I am the go-to “asphalt queen”. I have my mentor to thank for that! I still talk with him often; he’s taught me everything.
What are your favorite projects to work on?
I’ve worked on transportation projects here in Texas for so long, they’ve become my specialty. Getting to know the engineers and people in this group has made transportation projects my favorite to work on. On top of that, I love doing any geotechnical engineering work, and when I can, I try to get into the lab.
As someone with so much knowledge to share, how do you approach mentorship of your teammates on the job?
My main goal is to take people under my wing and pass on the knowledge I have been taught over the years to get them certified and troubleshoot potential mix problems that could occur, especially since we have a full asphalt lab in Beaumont. We can run a lot of specialty tests with the equipment here that most places do not have, like our Hamburg wheel tracker.
What would you say to women who want to join the field?
I think it’s tough for women to get into our industry – it can be intimidating. Just get your foot in the door. The women I’ve worked with have been mostly in the labs. That is my first piece of advice, though. Start there and see where it takes you! If you are willing to learn, there is always someone willing to take the time to teach you.
How does safety factor into your day-to-day work?
Safety comes first with everything. We interview people and explain to them that safety needs to be the first thing that comes to mind. It becomes a mindset, even at home doing the smallest tasks. Safety should be the priority at home and at work.
What does it mean to you to be an employee owner?
I think a lot of people take their job with more pride. You’re working not just for a corporation, but for yourself. It really helps with the quality of our jobs and pushes you to be the best!