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Celebrating Women in Construction Week: Interview with Angelica Matos

Each year, the construction industry, guided by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), dedicates the first week of March to honoring and promoting the role of women in the construction industry. This year’s Women in Construction Week theme, ‘Many Paths, One Mission,’ celebrates the different journeys of women in construction and how we can work together to strengthen and amplify the success of women in the industry.

This week, Clancy & Theys joins the celebration by sitting down with five of our very own women in construction. Join us for this five-part series as we dive into their construction journeys, their roles at Clancy & Theys, and their insights about being a woman in this industry.

Meet Angelica Matos, an Assistant Project Manager with Clancy & Theys’ Florida Division. Angelica has been with Clancy & Theys for just under a year and has more than 12 years of experience in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (A/E/C) industry.

Growing up, did you think you would have a career in the construction industry? 
Yes and no. While I never expected to end up on the construction side of the industry, I always dreamed of pursuing a career in design. I grew up in New York City and always loved the skyscrapers and was fascinated by architecture. I was especially obsessed with European architecture. I went to Brooklyn Technical High School, and during your last two years, you get to pick a focus. They offer things such as medical, aerospace, engineering, design, etc., and because of my passion, I chose architecture. It was a very intense program where we learned AutoCAD and even a bit of Revit. During the program, I designed and modeled a residential house. We even modeled a skyscraper and all the buildings in Bryant Park. After high school, I continued with design and pursued my associate’s in architecture design at the New York Institute of Technology’s Manhattan campus.

After starting out in design, what made you switch to construction?
Over time, I began to wonder if this was the career path I truly wanted and if I loved doing design work as much as I initially thought I had—I certainly didn’t love it like I thought I would, being in the studio for hours on end modeling and drafting. As fate would have it, after college, I took a job at a construction firm. They were looking for an assistant project manager with a design background. In this position, it was as if I had a foot in both worlds, design and construction. While I worked for a GC, the project’s architect would lean on my design background to assist with different aspects of the project. During this time, when I was on both the construction and design side of a project, I realized I enjoyed construction more.

What led you to Clancy & Theys?
After spending a few years in New York City, my husband and I relocated to Florida, where I worked for a residential architect and builder. In this position, I continued to work in both design and construction. Even though I was drafting and adjusting models, I never felt like I was a designer. This role reaffirmed that my passion was not for design, but rather for construction. I eventually found my way back to construction as a subcontractor, working for a millwork company. While I loved the job, I did not see myself doing it forever and truly wanted to be involved with construction management. I eventually had the opportunity to work with a GC in Orlando and return to the construction field. After confirming the construction industry was where I was meant to be, I knew I wanted to find a company where I could see myself at 5, 10, 15 or more years from now. I was looking for a company that was progressive, invested in technology, and where I could grow personally and professionally. I was told about an opportunity at Clancy & Theys, and I immediately knew I wanted to learn more. After interviewing with the Orlando team, I knew this was the right choice for me.

How do your previous roles in design and as a subcontractor influence your perspective now that you are working in construction management?
Having worked in design and subcontractors roles, I feel like I can relate to them on a level maybe others cannot. I know the pressures and problems they face firsthand. I can sympathize with them because I have experienced it before. This understanding helps me foster better relationships and allows me to be the project manager I wish I had when I was on the other side working in design and as a subcontractor.

What is your current role, and what does it entail?
As an assistant project manager, I look at it as if I am the project manager’s right hand and even the superintendent’s too. It’s our job to work together to do everything possible to have a successful project. My role involves various tasks, including handling requests for information (RFIs), submittals, procurement, change orders, and budget management. It’s a lot of coordination and problem-solving, but every day is truly something different. Overall, my goal is to ensure we provide the field team with everything they need to succeed.

What do you like best about the construction industry? What has made you stay in this career?
I like working through the tricky problems that can arise and finding creative solutions. It is an amazing feeling to look back at the end of the project and say, “wow that was a lot of work, but look at what we accomplished!” There is nothing quite like seeing the project go from documents and drawings to frames and slab floors to final finishes and completion—it’s an indescribable feeling.

What is the best advice you’ve received during your career?
Something that has stuck with me during my years in the industry was a piece of advice from the first project manager I served under during my first job. She is also a woman, and I was always amazed by how much she knew and her confidence. One day I was admiring her tenacity she told me, “Angelica, there is nothing that I can do that you cannot do.” She reminded me that I had the tools I needed to learn and grow in my career and that all I needed was to be confident in myself.

What advice would you give to a female, or anyone, considering a career in construction?
Because that advice stuck with me and has helped me so much over the years, I remind others never to doubt themselves. Be confident and fearless in what you know. I would also add to be determined but not so focused on one path that you cannot see what else is on the horizon. My career is a perfect example of the many paths you can take. With hard work, you never know where you will end up. Finally, I would say not to change your personality and be yourself. This industry can be challenging, but it doesn’t mean you must change to fit it. Stay true to who you are.