Women in Tech: Marielle Price
Hi Marielle, tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey into Fieldwire?
My name is Marielle and I live in San Francisco. I trained as a civil engineer at Stanford before joining Pankow Builders as an engineer and then project manager. At Fieldwire I head the Construction Team which is composed of experienced construction professionals. Fieldwire is a construction management software. We help improve the day-to-day for people in the construction field. Industry knowledge is paramount to understand the difficulties that people are facing on-site, and as such my team is the primary interface between the company and its customers.
What were you doing before you decided to join Fieldwire?
I was working for Pankow Builders, a $450M commercial general contractor, before joining Fieldwire. I built several sustainable buildings in the educational sector as well as a $180M public building in San Francisco. While working at Pankow, I realized there was a ton of waste in the industry - between materials, cost, and time. One of the ways to reduce time waste is by using mobile technology to stop double data entry, streamline communication, and have all of the latest information with you at all times. I was using a few different tools when I found Fieldwire and loved it. Fieldwire streamlined my job and I decided to switch over to the tech side and join the team here.
Getting involved in Tech is still a hot topic for women, what was your push into the industry?
Construction is already an industry that struggles with gender balance so I didn’t notice it as much in the tech world. That being said, it is an issue that I think both the construction and technology industries have identified and know that it’s necessary to improve.
I attended a women in construction conference earlier this year and learned an interesting fact – companies that have added more women and minorities at the executive and board levels have experienced higher profits as their boards became more diverse. Companies work smarter when there is more diversity in backgrounds and experiences. In terms of getting into the industry, it wasn’t a giant leap because I knew the construction really well and project management skills are very applicable in tech. Construction technology was the perfect fit.
How have you found your journey so far and what has been your greatest accomplishment?
My journey has been interesting - I wasn’t expecting to switch to the technology side but it’s been great. I think that a construction job site is basically like a startup in terms of people needing to wear a bunch of hats and get things done, so it translates pretty well. My greatest accomplishments have been helping the customers I work with be more efficient in their day-to-day. It’s feels great to speak with customers and hear how Fieldwire is making their lives easier. It’s also awesome to visit all of the amazing structures that our clients build!
What has been the most challenging thing so far?
Our company is expanding and it has been challenging growing a team. You have to be very careful on who you hire to maintain your company culture, especially when you grow 5-10 times the size.
What educational route did you take to get to where you are now?
I studied civil engineering for my bachelor’s degree and construction management for my master’s degree, both at Stanford University. The most important things I gained besides technical knowledge are critical thinking skills, experience working in groups, and the network.
Tell me about your experience working in a male dominated industry?
I definitely had some experiences in construction that my male colleagues did not encounter (being called certain terms of endearment, people ignoring what I said, and being asked to make coffee on many occasions) but I also found several mentors (male and female) that helped me grow in my career. It’s an old-school industry that has a ways to go for women but it’s an amazing industry to be a part of! In tech, I haven’t experienced the same things, but I work at a young, progressive company. I was the first female hire at Fieldwire, since then we have hired several other talented females but we still have some ways to go to improve our gender diversity.
How do you overcome competition in the tech industry?
The product and service are definitely the differentiators for Fieldwire. Many of us are straight from the construction industry and we focus on making a tool that we know is useful for the field. (We also use it internally to manage the product development cycles!) As construction is an old school industry, we know that the app needs to be very easy to pick up and use, with no training needed. Our support services are also top notch - whether customers want to call, email, or chat us.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs getting ready to enter the tech industry?
Go for it! There are a lot of exciting things going on right now and there are opportunities to have a big impact and move our industry in the right direction. As a piece of advice, I would focus on surrounding yourself with people that you like to work with. If you start at a small company (or even a big one), that makes a big difference. Also, find a connection between what you’re doing now and a tech company - there are transferable skills and knowledge that are incredibly valuable to startups even if you’re not in tech now. If you’re ready to dive in and get your hands dirty, you’re good to go!
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