A Woman's Perspective: Turning Challenges into Opportunities and Personal Growth
As a senior leader at the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), I take great pride in the duties and responsibilities that I have been entrusted with as the Deputy Facility Manager at the United States Supreme Court Building. When I think back in history with the knowledge that, at one time, there were very few or no women leaders within the AOC, I feel a great sense of pride to be a part of an agency that values diversity. It's definitely an honor and inspiring to be amongst so many women leaders.
Thinking back to the driving factors of my career as an engineer, I would have to say it started from a love of riding roller coasters and learning that engineers design roller coasters. I remember my mom taking me to the library and researching the schooling that was required for engineering and what types of jobs engineers do. Through a series of internships, my major shaped into mechanical engineering. I learned it was generally a male dominated field, but I wasn't discouraged by that. I knew that I had to work very hard in my career. I believe that remaining focused, learning from many mentors and staying true to my faith has brought me to where I am today.
As a woman leader, my greatest challenge was finding a nice balance of being a working mom with my husband working evening hours. We have two sons in elementary school and once I'm off from work, I pick them up from school and have to totally switch into "mother mode."
The challenge for me was that in most customer service oriented leadership roles, there is an expectation that you are available and responsive should an issue arise outside of normal business hours. This can be a challenge when you are in the middle of checking homework, working on school related projects or giving a spelling pre-test and you get that phone call. Of course, the initial response is to address the urgent matter timely, but I do not want my boys to think I'm not dedicating time to them. So, during these rare situations, I'll try engage them by explaining what I need to address and asking them how they would tackle it. They've always provided such simplified solutions!
I have enjoyed working on so many exciting projects with our shops and I'm grateful for the growth opportunities I've had at the AOC. It is an awesome experience to watch our projects come to life that stemmed from ideas and drawings. I often say that we are like elves, constantly working behind the scenes that create "wow" moments for the building occupants and the public. I sincerely believe that the people who work at the AOC are the agency's greatest assets.
The main reason why I pursued a leadership role here is because I enjoy encouraging people. I want to help make a difference in their lives. I want our teams to know that there are people in leadership roles who really care and want to hear their ideas, suggestions and concerns.
In an effort to give back to the community, I enjoy volunteering, as time permits, for grade school robotics competitions and at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) type expositions. Encouraging the next generation of students interested in learning how things work and the methods needed to design them is exciting to witness and reminds me of my journey from roller coaster aficionado to engineer.
Deatra Trinidad is the Architect of the Capitol's Deputy Facility Manager at the United States Supreme Court.