Field Notes from a Woman in a Non-Traditional Industry
By Annie Sliman and Mary Peterson
Samantha Waters has been involved in the construction industry for as long as she can remember. Her dad was in construction and, growing up in Northern California, she would beg to go to work with him. She loved being around a job site and all the activity absolutely fascinated her. In school, she discovered that she was a bit of a math nerd. Logic and problem solving came easily to her. It’s no wonder that she started college as an engineering major and soon switched to major in construction management.
In her graduating class at California State University, Sacramento, Waters was one of four women in a class of fifty-five. Despite her status as a minority in her field, construction and real estate suit her perfectly. As director of operations for NAI Vegas, a global full-service commercial real estate firm, she uses her education, skills and abilities to contribute as a key member of the professional team. “I have a background in statistics, I’m detail oriented and I need variety,” Waters comments, “But engineering and construction can be very solitary. I love working with people and being part of a team is my greatest satisfaction. NAI Vegas is an ideal fit for me.”
Waters is keenly aware of all the people who have helped her in her career. She cites her hardworking, supportive father, both supervisors and peers where she’s worked. In fact, it was the caliber of the people at NAI Vegas that convinced her to move into commercial real estate. She was especially impressed with the partners and their vision for the future as well as their willingness to share knowledge and expertise.
“The partners at NAI Vegas are simply the best in the business when it comes to investment real estate. Managing partner Patrick Sauter is both innovative and respectful of the values his dad, Lloyd, instilled when he founded the company in 1988. It’s no wonder they are legendary in the industry and I feel so fortunate to be able to learn from them,” Waters said.
Because she believes mentors have been so important to her, Waters is eager to help other young people, especially women, find places in the industry. She also believes that it’s an industry that’s changing to attract more women. In fact, she sees a growing appreciation of the different perspectives that women often bring to the table. A big factor is communication skills, which are so critical in multilevel fields that involve both high-level executives and blue-collar workers. More women now are being recruited and encouraged to consider careers in construction and commercial real estate, especially as managers. Water’s best advice to young women entering the field is simple. Work hard and you will earn the respect of colleagues in this dynamic and fast-paced industry.
Nevertheless, Waters thinks it’s also important to think about work/life balance. She has a strong professional support group of women in a variety of industries and networks with groups like Las Vegas Young Professionals. She teaches yoga twice a week, finds time to participate in a volleyball league and loves to cook. Recently, she added a miniature dachshund to her household, now that she’s decided Las Vegas is really home.
“Moving here after the Bay Area, I wasn’t certain that I’d stay. But I’ve grown to love it here. I’ve made the best friends and I can’t imagine a place with more opportunities for both professional and personal growth.”NAI Vegas
8945 W. Russell Road
Las Vegas, NV 89148