Jessi Hanson loves being able to drive by buildings she played a role in constructing. Originally her dream was to be an architect. She was so inspired when her family put an addition onto their home when she was in middle school that the architect gifted her his drafting items at the end of the project.
But after 5 years of architecture school, she got her first job at a construction management firm. “It was then that I realized my true passion wasn’t for the design, but instead seeing the building going from a 2D plan to a 3D object,” she said.
Today, Hanson is a Project Assistant for Benike Construction, a general contractor that focuses on commercial construction and healthcare. She has been a Project Assistant for almost 11 years, working on everything from contracts and change orders to submittals and RFIs.
“Like most everyone else in NAWIC, I wear multiple hats throughout my office. I have been called a Procore, Kahua, and Vista champion within our office. I’m not sure if I would call myself a champion, but I do know enough to be dangerous.” She is proud of the success Benike has seen by implementing Vista for the majority of their projects since she began with the company.
Hanson’s favorite part of her job is when she gets to visit job sites. “One thing that has surprised me is that field personnel love to answer my questions. I have no problem going up and asking them to explain to me what they are doing or if I don’t understand their question, they will take the time to explain it to me. This has helped me out tremendously over the years.”
She credits NAWIC for playing a key role in her career success, too. “Prior to NAWIC, I sat in the back of the room, didn’t say much and wasn’t a very confident person,” Hanson said. “Now, I’m leading not only NAWIC meetings, but have also lead panelist discussions, project meetings, and continue to expand my education to not only better myself but to also push me further in my career making me more valuable to my company.”
Hanson serves as the Southeast Minnesota Chapter’s Vice President, chair/co-chair for the Golf, Industry Appreciation, Block Kids, Spring Forum, and Bylaws committees, and participates in the Professional Development & Education committee. She has also served as the Chapter President, Recording/Corresponding Secretary, Director, and Immediate Past President, and as Regional Strategic Planning Chair.
As to the future of the construction industry, Hanson would like to see companies continue to make family friendly changes, such as accommodating a woman’s need to nurse and having shifts that can work with childcare needs. “I hope we can change the stereotype of what construction is. Yes, there is a place for women here. No, construction isn’t just swinging a hammer,” she said.
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