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2020 women who build spotlight: Katherine Dilawari

New England Real Estate Journal’s (NEREJ) annual Women Who Build Spotlight features women in the design and construction industry, their personal achievements, and their insight on what it takes to succeed in the industry. NEREJ’s Women Who Build Summit and Spotlight aim to not only empower women but to empower the industry as a whole.

Check out NEREJ’s Spotlight on Katherine Dilawari, P.E., LSP, Senior Associate at Haley & Aldrich, below or  on the NEREJ website.  

How many years have you been in your current field?
22 years

Which project, deal, or transaction was the “game changer” in the advancement of your career during the last 10 years?
One of my most challenging projects was construction of a building with a 70-ft deep underground parking garage. Approaching the start of construction, we discovered significant groundwater contamination passing through the building footprint. I led planning meetings with the project team to quickly adjust the building design and construction methods to accommodate the contamination. I was uniquely qualified to lead this effort since I had a deep understanding not only of the environmental concerns, but also of the complex geotechnical construction, which included a slurry wall earth support system and top-down construction sequencing. Construction started on schedule and with clearly defined costs.

What would you tell your daughter about entering this profession?
Find a career you are passionate about! Success comes from hard work, which is no fun unless you love what you’re doing. My kids know that mom loves her job. It’s truly rewarding to not only be making the world a better place by cleaning up contamination and enabling the beneficial reuse of brownfields properties, but to also have the opportunity to collaborate with creative teams who are creating beautiful new neighborhoods! I will also tell my kids to dress for the job you want. It’s much easier to be taken seriously when you’re dressed like the power players in the room.

What are you planning to do differently in 2020 to have a positive impact on your career?
I am very focused on external engagement such as technical presentations at conferences and professional societies (Licensed Site Professional Association, Environmental Business Council, etc.) and on active involvement in external professional organizations (for example, I am chair of the LSPA Regulations Committee). This helps to build my personal brand and Haley & Aldrich’s brand, and connects me to clients, potential hires, and other resources. I am also very focused on mentoring Haley & Aldrich’s next generation by inviting my younger colleagues to join me at the table for strategic client meetings, external presentations, and professional society meetings.