Celebrating Women in Construction Week with Pan-Pacific Mechanical

Women in Construction Week (WIC Week) celebrates and promotes the vital role of women in the construction industry. Established by the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) in 1998, WIC Week has grown to highlight the contributions of women across various roles within the industry. This year’s theme, ‘Keys to the Future,’ underscores the strength, knowledge, and importance of women in shaping the future of construction.

As part of the celebration, CPMCA proudly recognizes the achievements of women in construction. We recently connected with three women from Pan-Pacific Mechanical, a CPMCA contractor member, about their roles and the importance of women in the trades. 

In the Spotlight: Women of Pan-Pacific Mechanical

Divya Gaur (PPM Northern California Project Executive)
Ivette Escobedo (PPM Southern California Project Manager)
Rachael Stewart (PPM Southern California Sr. Purchasing Manager)

Tell us about yourself and your role at Pan-Pacific Mechanical. How long have you been in this role?

Divya Gaur, Northern California Project Executive

Divya Gaur: I am originally from India and have been living in the United States for the last 18 years. I have over 21 years of work experience in different aspects of end-to-end Construction Management. I have been with Pan-Pacific Mechanical for the past 12-1/2 years, currently fulfilling the role of a Project Executive for the last 3-1/2 years while working on a myriad of construction projects for Stanford Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente.

Ivette Escobedo: I’ve been with PPM for eight years. I started as an admin, updating logs, preparing submittal packages, and issuing RFI’s. I then became a project engineer, starting in the Small Projects Department where we juggled several jobs at a time. Currently, I am managing three projects: OC Street Car, RUE at LAX Airport, and Cedars Sinai Replacement Hospital in Marina del Rey.

Rachael Stewart: I am the Sr. Purchasing Manager in our SoCal division and I have been in Pan’s purchasing department for 20 years. I met my husband (who is also an employee here at Pan for 25+ years) here at work.

How did you get into the construction industry and what was your career path?

Ivette Escobedo, Southern California Project Manager

Divya Gaur: As a young kid, I was awestruck by the grandeur of modern architecture and high-rise buildings. I always wanted to be part of an industry that left a timeless legacy. I graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from India and worked with an architectural firm in New Delhi for three years before moving to the U.S. Pursuing postgraduate Construction Management and Project Management programs at San Jose State University, I gained experience working with Turner Construction Company as a Scheduling Engineer for three years and as a Project Engineer for another two years before starting my tenure at Pan-Pacific Mechanical.

Ivette Escobedo: At a young age I dreamt of becoming an Architect, but late in my college career I started to deviate from that plan. My mom is also in the industry, so luckily I had some exposure to construction from when I would accompany her to work as a kid. Eventually that led me to meeting my boss, who talked to me one day about the different roles that contribute to the success of construction and a quick birds eye view of the processes. A few years later, I was brought on board.

Rachael Stewart: I think the way I got into this industry is like some others I have met.  My father and his brothers were the owners of Pan-Pacific.  I was in a position back in the day where I needed something more stable career wise, and I came to work at Pan. I was really interested in learning about some of our projects and wanted to be a Project Engineer for one of our Project Managers, but we didn’t have such a position back then, and where I became helpful was on the purchasing side, and well, here I am still today.

Why is it important for women to be involved in this industry and the trades?

Rachael Stewart, Southern California Sr. Purchasing Manager

Divya Gaur: Construction has long been a male-dominated field and it is not a secret that women are under-represented in the construction industry. Nationally, only about 11% of payroll employees in this field are women, and that number is only 10% in California. Women in the construction industry are also most likely to work in office/administration positions. This is a big enough reason for women to be more actively involved in the construction industry. Likewise, women have their unique traits such as being more balanced, meticulous, organized, and great multi-taskers. So while we are seeing a significant shift in the way the construction industry perceives and appreciates women, the road to true gender equality remains long.

Ivette Escobedo: Women can bring a different perspective which can lead to better decision making, not to mention we are usually more organized. It creates diversity and can encourage other women, who may be intimidated by the male dominance, to join the industry.

Rachael Stewart: Women tend to be really good at multitasking and process all the details in things. Women can also look at things differently and can bring different skill sets into the industry, providing unique points of views.

What advice would you give to a younger woman considering joining the industry?

Divya Gaur: Embrace your uniqueness and values. Confidence and consistency are key; avoid second-guessing your choices. Be honest, work hard, and know your self-worth. Dream big! Be fearless, have a voice and don’t be afraid to use it. Attend career fairs and explore online platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed. Seek internships and job shadowing opportunities to understand different roles and responsibilities. Take advantage of on-the-job training, ask questions, and connect with professionals across the organization.

Ivette Escobedo: I would definitely encourage her and tell her that the sky is the limit, whether in the field or in an office position. Never stop learning and just grab the bull by the horns. There will be challenges, but it’s about how many times you get up, not how many times you’ve fallen. 

Rachael Stewart: It will be an uphill battle, and you will be doubted and challenged, but there are a ton of networks that support women in construction. Find another woman in a management role to be your support/mentor. Stay strong and be as much involved as you can.

What are your hopes for the future of women in construction?

Divya Gaur: I hope to see significant recruitment of women across various construction careers, with women leading in all aspects from planning to execution. I already see a promising mind shift. Women are mentoring, empowering, uplifting, and celebrating other women.

Ivette Escobedo: I hope to see the amount of women in construction increase. It’s not often, but when I do see a woman in the field, it’s pretty amazing.

Rachael Stewart: I still see a lot of men still in the executive roles, it would be nice to see more women in those executive & leadership roles.

How to Stay Connected During WIC Week and Beyond

The success stories and insights of these three inspiring women from Pan-Pacific Mechanical are just one part of the story of how women are helping build the future across CPMCA and beyond. To hear more stories from our members, keep up on industry news and more, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.