Our people are what make Modern Niagara what it is. Their dedication to our core values, to their own professional development, and to taking active roles within the industry is what allows us to succeed. In addition, we know that trades education remains a crucial component of maintaining an efficient and effective workforce. Supporting trade schools like the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) means that our workforce – throughout the industry – can grow and diversify.
We got in touch with Neda Safaeian, Project Manager at Modern Niagara Alberta, who spoke about her entry into construction, her experience being involved with the Women in Trades and Technology Program, and the importance of encouraging inclusion for women in the industry.
The Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) program was started by SAIT to promote the recruitment, enrolment, and retention of women in Trades and Technology programs at SAIT. WITT’s mission is to provide mentorship, awareness, and initiatives to promote and empower women navigating non-traditional careers in trades and technology.
“When I joined Modern four years ago, it was a different experience for a woman to enter construction,” Neda mentioned. “I gained lots of experience and insight into the industry, and I thought that maybe I could be helpful for other women and share what I learned to help them join the industry, because we are really short on women in construction.”
One of the key elements in WITT is the Mentorship Management Program, which helps connect SAIT students with an industry mentor to help them navigate their career path and grow professionally. Since joining the mentorship program, Neda has been meeting with Samara Fichtner, a student in the SAIT program. Their meetings have focussed on developing Samara’s goals for the mentorship program, which include taking more initiative, learning general tips for women in the industry, and set up networking opportunities.
“Every individual has different goals, but all the goals I’m working on with my mentee are about taking initiative and working on her confidence,” said Neda. “As part of the program, she gave me her goals for her career and we are basically working towards those goals, helping her with what she needs and if she has any questions.”
Neda hopes that WITT will not only be able to benefit the individuals enrolled in the program, but be part of a greater, industry-wide effort to encourage more women to enter the trades.
“We want to convince women that they can come and have a career in construction,” said Neda. “It’s hard for women to decide if they want to be in construction because it is an area that is understood to be dominated by men, so in this program we are trying to guide our students and help with any questions they may have about joining the industry.”
Neda joined Modern in 2017, after making the transition into construction from her previous job as an engineer in Alberta’s oil and gas industry.
“Previously, I was working in oil and gas, however I saw an opportunity to make the move to construction a few years ago,” Neda mentioned. “I was working as a design engineer so I thought that I could try construction, a completely different area.”
Neda first started in Modern as a Project Coordinator in, before becoming a Project Manager two years later. Neda mentioned how she enjoys the diversity of work and projects she sees as a Project Manager.
“As a design engineer, everything I was doing for work was effectively the same,” Neda said. “I decided that I wanted to work somewhere where I can try different projects and work, so that’s why I chose construction, and so far, the decision has worked out well!”
When asked about her experience at Modern, Neda commented on the inclusion and the support she has experienced as part of the Alberta team.
“My experience with Modern has been great! They help me a lot, but also allow me to be myself and work on my interests,” Neda said. “For example, when I raised my hand to be a part of the Women in Technology and Trades, my manager convinced me and helped me a lot to be a part of the group.”
In fact, Neda affirmed that working with Modern and the encouragement she received to join WITT was a major part of her decision to enter the program as a mentor.
“They really helped me and continue to work with me to be part of the program,” Neda commented. “Sometimes I have to go to these meetings during regular working hours, so they are very accommodating.”
When asked about what suggestions she might give to any women who want to join the trades, or may have recently entered the industry, Neda mentioned how hard it can be for women to feel accepted and comfortable in the industry, which is why so many women choose not to enter the trades. As such, Neda highlighted the importance of both determination and believing in yourself for women in the trades.
“For me I think having the confidence is very important for women, for example, as a project manager, you have to work with mostly men and you might think that they don’t want to work with you or take directions from a young woman like myself, and that can be hard,” Neda mentioned. “But even before that, it’s important for women to give the trades a shot in the first place; if your passionate about working in construction I really think you should try it.”
Modern Niagara is proud to continue our working relationship with SAIT and WITT. The work they are doing to promote inclusivity, diversity, and mentorship throughout our industry is invaluable, and if you’re interested, we encourage you to get involved. To stay up to date on their work, follow along on LinkedIn here.