Tricia Kagerer is well-accustomed to being the only woman in a room full of men working in powerful roles. In her own right, she has earned her place in this room. With more than 20 years of experience in Construction Risk Management and Safety, Tricia has positioned herself as an expert in risk and safety management and leadership. In 2020, her accomplishments were formally recognized when she earned the IRMI Bill McIntyre Leadership Award, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals Award of Excellence, and was named to the Board of Directors for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. She has managed to achieve all this whilst at the same time raising a family of her own and also writing two books! Tricia might just be the definition of “a woman of many talents”. Today she is a champion for women who work in non-traditional roles and has been an integral voice for sparking important conversation around equality and inclusion.
No two days are ever the same for Tricia. She is a specialist in balancing safety, quality, and mitigating claims through risk management. The most rewarding part of her job is seeing progress and knowing that she has contributed to serving a purpose.
“One day you might visit a project and it’s just dirt-work. One year later you visit again and you’ve been a part of building a community and it’s really making a difference”. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, she describes the construction community there as being “strong, hard-working, dedicated people” who unfortunately don’t always have a voice. So, she’s there to bridge that gap, by communicating their needs and ensuring a safe work environment for all. This holistic approach is what makes her job not just rewarding, but inspiring.
When Tricia started her career, she was often the first woman her coworkers had come across in the industry and many automatically assumed that she would fail. She combated this by embracing unwavering confidence in her knowledge and placing education as a priority in her life. This led her to obtain her master’s degree in Education and Human Development, with a focus on Conflict Resolution. “Once you get in the room, education keeps you in the room,” she says. The designations after her name give her credibility, establishing her right to ‘stay in the room’, even if she is the only female there. Having these credentials asserted Tricia’s place within the industry and allowed her to embrace what could easily be regarded as her superpower - tapping into others’ passions and showing them ways that can help them become even better at what they love. “I never went out to a job site to tell anyone what to do. I went to develop relationships,” she recalls, “I learned about their equipment, their site, and why they do what they do.” This approach to serving others smashes gender limitations and allows Tricia to be seen for what she is at her core, a caring human helping another human.
As a self-described ‘writer by hobby,’ she realized that perhaps the most impactful way to reach many people would be to write about her experience. In her most recent book, The B Words, she interviewed lots of women in construction, engineering, and STEM, intertwining her unique story with theirs. She explores different problems that women face, shares real-world stories, and perhaps most importantly, offers solutions to how we can fix these problems. ‘The B Word’ challenges beliefs, societal-stereotypes and navigates both personal and professional challenges that often hold a woman back from reaching her full potential.
In the two decades since she began her journey into construction, times have changed. Tricia believes that there is now an increasing desire for men to create space so that women can have a voice. The last chapter of ‘The B Words’ is actually written for men, and is called ‘Bridges’. Tricia believes that “if 50% of a population are the only ones working on a problem, the problem will never be solved”. The ‘Bridges’ chapter outlines ways in which we can work together, as well as providing actionable steps that we can all take.
For those who are considering getting into construction but are being held back by limiting beliefs such as, “I don’t belong in construction, I’m not capable, it’s going to be too difficult, I’m scared to be the only woman”, Tricia simply says to question that voice in your head, challenge it, ask yourself if your concerns are true or if they’re just limiting beliefs. Ten years ago, the conversation around women working in construction was merely a whisper. If you decide to get involved with the industry today, the supportive communities are thriving. Tricia has met so many inspiring women doing incredible things, simply by putting herself into these communities wholeheartedly. By sharing her experience, her advice, and her strategies on becoming a successful female leader in today’s world, she is passing the torch to future generations of women who will also leave their mark.
Tricia is one of those people who holds a quiet confidence about her. She speaks intentionally, with purpose, and in a way that makes you feel really listened to. Her work goes well beyond the building site or a safety report, she is a true leader who takes pride in knowing she has built a career and a legacy that she should be proud of. As Nelson Mandela said “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” and Tricia is an impeccable example of this.