Join us in celebrating the 25th Annual Women in Construction Week (March 5-11) with a blog series highlighting the value and ingenuity women bring to our member businesses. We’ll also feature careers and opportunities available to women interested in a rewarding, full-time job and being a part of the precast, prestressed concrete industry’s bright future.
I'm Nicole Rodriguez, a mother of two sons, born in Puerto Rico and raised in Florida. My main objective in life is to lead by example and help my children grow into happy and prosperous adults. Being bilingual, I initially thought it would make it easier for me to find job opportunities, but I didn't realize its usefulness until I started working in the construction industry. Given the significant presence of Hispanics in this field, my ability to speak Spanish has proved valuable in coordinating logistics, managing plants, and even in sales. It wasn't until I joined the precast industry that I discovered my passion for marketing and sales, which is what I predominantly do now.
PCI-MA: How do you describe your job to people?
Nicole: Whenever I talk about my job, I often describe it as a fun and enjoyable experience. The tasks I undertake, such as designing graphics for our marketing campaigns, creating videos, developing and maintaining our website, attending conventions and meetings, and networking with people, don't feel like work at all. Not only do I get to have fun, but I also acquire leads and increase awareness, thereby enhancing both my personal value and that of my company. To me, there's nothing more exciting than this!
PCI-MA: How did your career journey lead you to your company?
Nicole: After obtaining a degree in psychology, I decided not to pursue that path and instead held various jobs until I landed a role at a consulting engineering firm. It was there that I was introduced to the world of precast concrete and attended industry conventions, discovering the vast range of aspects involved. As I was becoming more interested in marketing and sales, Splice Sleeve North America, Inc. approached me with an opportunity to remain in the precast industry while taking on a significant role. I eagerly accepted and was empowered to contribute more to the marketing department while continuously learning and bringing value to the company.
PCI-MA What is one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome it?
Nicole: Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has presented me with several challenges, one of which is being overlooked due to my gender and lack of formal education in construction. However, I overcame this obstacle by continuously seeking knowledge and educating myself through asking questions. I have always been enthusiastic about learning, and I am not hesitant to ask questions. I have discovered that most people in the industry are willing to share their knowledge, and this has enabled me to become well-versed in the field. It is quite gratifying to engage in conversations with industry professionals, not only to understand what they are discussing, but also to contribute to the conversation.
PCI-MA: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Nicole: What I love most about my job is a tie between meeting new people and marketing. I am fortunate to attend conventions and meetings where I network, meet new people, and learn. At the same time, I love designing marketing materials for my company, working on the website, and creating videos. All these things I learned at Splice Sleeve by thinking of ideas and taking initiative to learn on my own. I get asked if something is possible and I try it out and learn something new.
PCI-MA: Do you have a mentor or role model? If so, how does this person support you in your personal and professional growth?
Nicole: I actually have several! The following individuals have been extremely supportive of me both personally and professionally.
Frank Holz, Senior Technical Consultant at Allplan, Inc. – I had the privilege of working with him for five years, and during that time, he became not only a fellow associate but also a dear friend. He taught me a great deal about engineering and software, and even though we no longer work together, he continues to be my go-to person for knowledge in the precast industry. He encourages me to be more confident and assertive, which is still something I struggle with, but I am learning and growing thanks to his guidance.
AJ Ishikawa, Executive Vice President at Splice Sleeve North America, Inc. – He is both my boss and my friend, and I can assure you that I'm not trying to flatter him. He recognized something in me that I didn't see myself and has consistently provided me with the knowledge and resources necessary to excel in my career. For instance, AJ sponsored me to apply for LPCI, and as a result, I was accepted into the LPCI class of 2024. This opportunity has allowed me to develop my leadership skills further, which is another valuable asset to add to my skill set.
Natalie Martin, Technical Sales Manager at Cresset Chemical Company – Despite only meeting her two years ago, she has quickly become a source of inspiration for me. Like myself, she is also a woman working in the construction industry, but she has been doing it for much longer than I have. Observing how well-respected she is in the industry, and how many people know her, is truly inspiring. My hope is that one day people will regard me with the same level of respect that they have for her. I consider myself fortunate to call her my friend.
PCI-MA: What are your career and life aspirations and goals?
Nicole: My career aspiration is to gain enough knowledge and expertise in the industry that will not only enhance the value of my company but also contribute to the industry's growth. To achieve this objective, I intend to become a member of one of the PCI regions and actively participate in its activities.
I aspire to witness my sons' success and watch them start their own families. Additionally, I envision myself retiring in a location closer to the beach, as nothing compares to the delight of warm weather, refreshing ocean breeze, and the soothing sound of waves crashing on the shore.
PCI-MA: What advice would you give a young woman entering the construction industry?
Nicole: If I were to give advice to young women starting out in the construction industry, I would encourage them to ask questions and never hesitate to learn. It can be daunting, but it is important to speak up and contribute to conversations. Most people are willing to educate and provide guidance. It is crucial to stay informed and not feel lost in discussions about the industry.
About Splice Sleeve North America
Splice Sleeve North America was established in 1977 and is a pioneer in grout-filled rebar couplers. The NMB Splice Sleeve® is a proven method for connecting reinforcing bars in concrete structures. Once connected, it performs as one continuous bar, supporting the Precast and Cast-in-Place construction industry with high efficiency. At the precast plant, the sleeves are embedded on one end of the precast element. The main reinforcing bars are inserted halfway into the sleeves with the bars protruding from the other end of the precast element. At the building site, the precast members are joined by inserting the protruding bars from the end of one precast member into the sleeves of the adjacent member. The sleeves are then grouted, in effect making the reinforcing bars continuous through the connection. This is called "emulation" and the NMB is categorized as an emulative connection for precast systems.
Learn more about Splice Sleeve North America’s rebar splicing solutions by watching their video or contacting them for more information.