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  • Writer's pictureCalibre Engineering

Emily's Foundations of Success in Her AEC Journey

The AEC industry has a history of underrepresentation of women, but together, we're rewriting the story. In honor of Women's History Month, we are celebrating the living histories of Calibre women as they forge their own paths. Nearly 40% of Calibre employees are women, and we're passionate about supporting them. Calibre is working to flip the script and champion women in this industry. Join us this month as we share stories of the amazing women who are making a difference at Calibre and helping to rewrite the story of women in AEC.


In this post, Emily Villines, Calibre's Vice President of Strategic Communications, shares three things that have strengthened her throughout her career in AEC.

1. Build a network of people who inspire you.

Some days, working is hard. Some days, work steals your energy. Some days, you find yourself stuck between challenges. Building a network of people who inspire you is critical to career development, mental health, and success. Get out there and build a network. Join organizations and be active. Invite people to coffee. Have awkward first conversations. Purposefully surround yourself with people who inspire you and motivate you.

2. Find a firm that supports your exploration and growth.

People are often surprised that I’ve been with Calibre for 17 years, and they assume I have stayed because Calibre is a family company. But people leave family businesses all the time. The truth is that over the years, Calibre has allowed me to explore different facets of my personality and a variety of skill sets. I have joined leadership programs and industry committees focused on downtown planning, local theatre, stormwater and floodplain management, public sector service, military service, and more. I have been responsible for sector growth, market research, and strategic relationship development. I have theorized and executed new HR policies and internal relationship-building programs. Calibre gives me the freedom and resources to explore. Find a firm and a manager that supports your exploration. 


3. Don’t let your light be dimmed by stereotypes.

The A/E/C industry has been wonderfully generous to me in my career, and I am proud of what I’ve achieved. This industry has so many great minds, great people, and great hearts. While I have experienced difficult moments – like being steamrolled in conversations, or being victim to presumptions about my role, or being called diminutive pet names, or being told my ability to contribute meaningfully will be impacted by my decision to have a family – I have learned to ignore the outliers and use any negative moments to fuel my growth. I’ve learned to use my voice, even when it feels uncomfortable or when I’m perceived in what feels like a negative light. I’ve learned to stand strong for the things I believe in, even in the face of opposing opinions. I’ve become a stronger and more active advocate for other women, for parents, and for the unheard voices in the room. I have become more sensitive to what is unsaid and a fierce advocate for giving my team what they need to succeed. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to be dimmed by a stereotype. Push forward through what others might see, feel, or presume, and focus on your northern star.

I am lucky to have had amazing people to inspire me over the years. People who challenged me to be the leader they saw before I did. I am forever indebted to my network of amazing peers.

Brandy Bertram | Michele Raftery | Laura Kroeger | Christine King | Greg Murphy | Julie Witecki | Bao Chongtoua | Wendy Smith | Michael Mierendorf | Dana Williams David Skuodas | Ale Spray | Brian Stephens Hotopp | Ben Murphy | Shea Thomas | Danielle Lewis | Jon Villines

A special thank you to Matthew Campbell who inspired greatness in so many of us. Miss you, my friend.


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