At Clark, we are proud to be made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and talents. Our “Under the Hard Hat” series is designed to showcase the diverse people who make up the Clark team.
In honor of Pride Month, we recently sat down with Anderson Gradel, a project engineer at Clark working in San Diego, to learn about her background and what Pride month means to her.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago before attending the University of Notre Dame, where I studied civil engineering. Throughout college, I boxed competitively and was named a captain of the women’s boxing team my senior year. My time boxing instilled many values in me, including teamwork, consistency, and getting comfortable with discomfort. All these values have served me well in the construction industry.
What brought you to Clark?
While looking for an internship at my school’s career fair, I was instantly drawn to Clark because of their impressive project portfolio, the good energy from the recruiters I met, and the company's clear commitment to safety.
After spending time as a summer associate, I knew I wanted to come right back after graduation!
What type of project are you currently working on? What are your responsibilities?
I am currently working as a project engineer on the UCSD Pepper Canyon West Housing project, a progressive design-build student housing project. As part of my role, I manage the building facade and the project’s prefabricated kitchen and bathroom pods.
Before joining the UCSD Pepper Canyon West Housing project team, I worked as part of the Otay Mesa LPOE project, a project that enhances the experience for travelers, where I managed MEP and finishes.
What led you to pursue a career in the A/E/C industry?
Construction has always fascinated me. When I was in high school, a big development - including a hotel, a parking structure, and retail space - was built in my hometown. I found myself going out of my way to check on the progress of construction, and that’s when it clicked for me that I wanted to make this my career.
Who have been your strongest influences in life?
My parents. My dad has taught me to take pride in my work, to never cut corners, and to always give generously. My mom has taught me to have confidence, to fully embrace every season of my life, and to always address people by their names. I would not be who I am today without their continuous advice and support.
What do you like best about working at Clark?
The best thing about the construction industry is the satisfaction that comes with watching the project take shape before your eyes. Few industries provide such tangible results. The best thing about Clark specifically is all the incredible and inspiring people who make going to work so rewarding and fun.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Pride Month is a celebration of embracing your truest self while allowing others to do the same. Coming out is scary, and I wouldn't have done it if it weren't for the fearless queer people in my life who served as an example for me. Pride month is a dedicated time for all of us in the LGBTQ+ community to continue to be examples for one another.
In your opinion, what does it look like to be a strong ally to the LGBTQ+ community?
I find that a lot of people tend to shy away from conversations out of the fear of saying something wrong or offensive. In my opinion, the best way you can be an ally is to simply swallow your pride and not be afraid of looking dumb. The more people that get involved in the conversation, the more welcoming environment we will create for all.
What, if any, obstacles did you overcome to get where you are today professionally?
As a bisexual woman in the construction industry, I sometimes feel judged or misunderstood by those I work with. The best way I have begun to overcome this (I say begun because it's an ongoing process) is by strengthening my own inner compass and not letting the opinions of others affect my opinion of myself.
What advice do you have for someone looking to start a career in construction/design management?
It’s never too early to start building your network. When it comes down to it, construction is a collaborative, people-focused industry, so you will go much further with a support team behind you.
What does "Thrive as You, Succeed Together” mean to you?
To me, it means that diversity is a competitive advantage. When we as a company embrace people of all backgrounds, we can achieve so much more!