Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring 2019

12 Colorado Public Works Journal How did you get started in the industry? My Dad worked for Colorado Department of Highways (before it became CDOT) and came home one day and told me of a temporary (6 months) opening on the survey crew that would pay me more than I was currently making in the retail business, selling shoes. So, I went for the interview and was determined that they would not know of my Dad’s position until after the in- terview. I was hired right there on the spot. I was just 19. I was working outside in jeans and t shirts and enjoyed it so much I never thought I’d want to wear heels again! Can you give us a snapshot of your career and how you moved along? Well, I started in 1982 straight out of high school with a tempo- rary assignment in Greeley. After that I went back to selling shoes for a while until I found out about a permanent position being offered by the CDOH in Sterling. They suggested for me to start there as a temporary first before I got a permanent po- sition, where I stayed for four years. I had wanted to get a trans- fer to Denver as I fell in love with the materials end of the business; testing the soils: asphalt, concrete etc. which I really enjoyed rather than the inspection side of the work. However, whilst on vacation with a girlfriend in Arizona I got a job there working for a consultant testing lab. I returned to Colorado after 2 years and got reinstated with CDOT at their HQ in the Soils Unit, playing in the dirt getting my hands dirty (literally). Whilst here I went back to school intermit- tently and took some engineering, geology and Auto CAD classes, but gave that up as I wanted to stay on the technical side, doing lab testing and Statewide certification training for National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) training others in how to get certified and serving on a National NICET Committee helping them write exam questions. I had found my niche in the business which I loved. Do you think you were in the right place at the right time to afford these opportunities? Yes, definitely. My supervisor was very supportive. He gave me the opportunities and didn’t ever view gender as an issue, as I pulled my weight in the same way as the guys. What was your dream job back in High School? I wanted to be a fashion designer. I loved clothes and shoes and had worked retail all through high school. Now we know why you are always so well dressed Tammy. When you started in the paving industry were there many female employees? No. In fact when I was in Sterling I was the first female and they didn’t like me being there. Although once I had earned their respect and I got to know the guys better, they were all really good mentors to me. What do you think needs to be done to change this? We need to have more exposure. Attending Career Fairs is a good start. Yeh and Associates are looking for a summer intern, so I went to the career fair at CSU last week and met some great potential hires. 2 out of 3 people we are looking at are women as they proved to be the most qualified. Also, volunteering at events such as Transportation & Construction Girl and Women in Asphalt, getting more involved in these or- ganizations. Having the support of the men in your company to support you is good too. Do you think it’s a difficult industry for women to estab- lish a career in? It is getting better, but it is still difficult. Maybe it takes a little bit longer to earn male colleagues respect. We are getting there though. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently? I am just so glad that I did things the way I did. Firstly, it is not so easy to walk into this industry now or any industry really with- out a college degree. When I started it wasn’t expected for you to go to college out of high school. I wanted to go to college, but once I got this job I never looked back. I dove in head first. What advice would you give someone who wanted to start a career in this industry? Don’t take no for an answer and don’t give up. In the world that we live in now women are being seen more and we should come out confident. If you are good at what you do and know what you are talking about there is no reason for you not to be accepted. There are so many smart women out there now. It’s not a mans world anymore. MINUTES WITH TAMMY BUCK Tammy Buck is QA Field Manager with Yeh and Associates. Tammy Buck takes time out at the Rocky Mountain Asphalt Conference & Equipment Show to talk with our Jo Taylor on her career within the industry working amongst the men….