Work-Life Success! with Nishita Lakhani

Nishita Lakhani grew up in India, was one of four women in a class of 64 in her Construction Engineering Management program at Purdue University, and is a now Senior Project Engineer at the national construction company McCarthy Building Companies.

Nishita is relatively new to the profession, and I loved hearing how passionate and positive she is about the construction industry. We talked about the differences between construction in India versus the US, how you don’t realize it when you’re in school but communication is the key to successful projects, and whether or not mentorship and diversity initiatives are actually effective.


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SHOW RECAP:

  • How growing up in India inspired Nishita to pursue a career in construction

  • Nishita explains the difference between the Construction Engineering Management and Construction Management majors

  • On interning at Disney!

  • Why she chose to stay in the US after graduation, and how construction in India is different from the US

  • I shared my experiences working in Shanghai

  • Advice for someone who wants to study CEM

  • How we both spend most of our day talking to or emailing people (before getting to our "real" work)

  • What she does as a Senior Project Engineer at McCarthy

  • McCarthy's project management training program

  • How technology has changed the construction process

  • Contractors and architects are on totally different time schedules

  • What she wishes architects knew, or would do

LIGHTNING ROUND Q&A

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT IN THEIR CAREER?

Don't be afraid to speak up when you're at the table. Make sure that you're ideas are out there - that's what you've been hired for. So if you're higher-ups are talking and if you think there's something that you can bring to the table, don't be afraid to say it.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL UNFOCUSED OR OVERWHELMED?

I have a really great team, and I really like working with them, so I would go up to one of my co-workers and chat for a little bit until I feel better. I think just talking about your issues with someone and throwing ideas back and forth really helps.

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU FIND REALLY INSPIRING?

I recently read "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. It talks about how success is based on different opportunities and about "10,000 hours", and how practicing doing something the correct way is important for your success.

WHAT'S A FUNNY OR INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOURSELF?

This is kind of interesting - I really enjoy taking classes and learning. It could be dance classes or workout classes, or it could be more educational based. I'm constantly taking different classes, and it's really fun for me.

MENTOR SHOUT OUT! WHO IS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN A GREAT MENTOR TO YOU?

Getting me here there have been multiple mentors, but two people that I would like to give a shout out to are my dad - he's always just been so inspirational and always wants me to do the best and be the best of what I can be - and also my direct project manager, Kelly; she is the strong woman in construction who is always motivated me to speak out and put myself out there. She really cares about my career path and has help me the last two years.