This article is one in a series of conversations with female construction executives. Click here for last month’s conversation.
Allison Otto’s recent appointment as President and CEO of Otto Construction makes the company one of the largest women-run commercial general contractors in northern and central California.
Otto, the third generation in their family to run the Sacramento-based company, holds a degree in business administration from the University of Southern California and a construction management certificate from UC Davis.
Otto Construction is involved in various types of projects, including senior housing, historic renovations, educational institutions, health buildings and parking garages. Some of the jobs that Otto, 45, has been running recently include multi-million dollar projects for clients such as California State University Sacramento, the San Juan Unified School District, and California State University Monterey Bay.
Here Otto (picture above, center) talks to Construction Dive about her new role as President and her advice for young women considering a career in the construction industry.
BAU DIVE: How long have you been working in construction?
ALLISON OTTO: Officially, I’ve been working for Otto Construction for 21 years, but since my father was the second generation to run the company, I’ve spent most of my life building.
What are you doing in your current job?
As President, I oversee the strategic direction of Otto Construction. I also play an active role in Otto Construction’s management team and focus on setting and achieving financial goals, implementing strategic planning goals and positioning the company well in the communities in which Otto operates.
One of my most important tasks is customer support and negotiations. I identify and acquire new customers, maintain relationships with current and previous customers and accompany projects from the perspective of managers. I enjoy this role nurturing and developing relationships with clients, architects, consultants, and other business and community organizations.
What made you decide to take up the construction profession?
This company has been part of our family’s DNA since 1947 and I’ve been with it all my life. I made an early decision to continue the legacy of our family business in the third generation.
In the coming year Otto Construction will celebrate its 75th anniversary. My vision for the future is to encourage collaboration with internal and external contacts and at the same time expand opportunities for growth. We will pursue innovations and new technological advances to ensure another 75 years of prosperity and influence in the communities in which we operate, and will continue to provide excellent service and high quality construction to all of our project partners.
Which projects did you enjoy the most and why?
Every project is fun and each brings its own challenges and accomplishments. From tenant improvements at local nonprofits like the Blind Society, to key community facilities like the new Science and Curiosity Museum, to our K-12 and college projects, they all pride ourselves on knowing these facilities will be enjoyed for many years to come.
What advice would you give young women considering the construction profession?
Stop thinking and just dive in! It’s such a great industry. Every day is different, and women bring a value and perspective to building that is needed and wanted. Surround yourself with great role models and reach out to mentors; there are so many people ready to help.