Women In Construction: Get to Know Shaabini Alford of Control Air Enterprises

For over a decade, Shaabini Alford has been leading teams to construct large-scale projects across Southern California. As a former Cal Poly Pomona student, Shaabini started the first student chapter of CPMCA and now has the honor of being on the board of directors for Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA).

Shaabini is passionate about increasing female minority leadership in the construction and mechanical contracting industry. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we connected with Shaabini to learn more about her career path and her hopes for the future of the industry.

Meet Shaabini Alford, Vice President of Major Construction at Control Air Enterprises

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

Our industry is facing a shortage of people wanting to join the trades. Data shows that the construction industry is a male dominated industry. The female population is an untapped talent and resource that can help increase the workforce while providing a career with benefits and equal pay. On the contractor side, it’s not just women that should join us. Any diversity brings fresh ideas, increased collaboration, unique skill sets, among many other things that have proven to increase profits. The more we start seeing women and minorities represented at the executive level, the more we start to open up the resource pool and draw in people that want to make a career in the construction industry.

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

Find a good company that welcomes diversity. Work hard and earn your promotions. Will it be a bumpy road?  Yes, most likely it will be. But the industry is more diverse than 10 years ago. We are starting to see more diversity at the executive level now.

Join groups like WiOPS or WiMi for mentorship, education and networking opportunities so you don’t feel alone. We see a lot of young women leave the industry when they get married, or have kids, or need to take care of a family member. These are all priorities, but it doesn’t always mean you have to step away from your career. For women that want to continue with their career, I recommend working for a company that respects and values you and if you have a life partner they should do/feel the same about your career as well.

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

My hope is that current leaders of companies make a concerted effort to diversify their team. It’s not enough to just say all the right things, and use the popular phrases. I want to see leaders actually DO something about hiring, promoting, and elevating women and minorities. I see a lot of people looking at the women in this industry to raise awareness and increase the numbers, but it’s still a male dominated industry and the males need to take action too.

How did you get involved with CPMCA and what impact has this had on your career?  

Myself along with several other peers started the first student chapter on the west coast at Cal Poly Pomona in collaboration with CPMCA. That first year we won first place at the national MCAA Student Chapter Competition! CPMCA contractor members took the time to show us how to read plans, how to put a proposal together, took us on job walks and overall spent a lot of time educating us.

Many of us from the student chapter went on to work in the industry.  I am happy to say I have been involved with CPMCA ever since.  And now I also serve at the national level as an MCAA Board Member and member of PMEC Project Manager Education Committee.

I want young women and minorities to see that I am an example of what others can also do. I am an immigrant. I am a woman. I am a minority. I am a wife. I am a mom of two little kids. I am an executive. I am doing my best to pave the way for those behind me so the road is a little less bumpy.

Want to learn more about Shaabini? Connect with her on LinkedIn >>