The Women of Wold: Spotlight on Melissa Stein

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we talked with several of our talented female leaders about their careers, sources of inspiration and much more

Women’s History Month is a time to intentionally shine a light on the incredible women who contribute to the success of our work and team at Wold Architects and Engineers, whether they are leading and mentoring colleagues or serving clients and delivering impactful results. This month, we are featuring women across the company who have made a difference in the lives of those around them. These women share personal stories about who has inspired them and how they strive to advocate for others.

In our sixth installment of the series, Government Leader Melissa Stein discusses her proudest accomplishments and how her daughters have made her a better person. She also sheds light on why people shouldn’t feel compelled to follow the same path as everyone else.

Why is Women’s History Month important to you?

When I was growing up, there was no real role model in the professions I was interested in or sports I played. I want my daughters to know that they can do anything, and that there are women they can look up to.

Is there a woman in your life who inspires you? If so, who is she and how has she made you better?

My daughter is 4-years-old and has such a love for life and all the little things. There is not much that gets her down, and even when she is down, it is not for long. She has made me think about things differently and from a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise seen and to always see the bright side to things.

Tell us about your current role and how you’re making an impact on other women around you.

I am an architect by profession and have worked at Wold for over ten years. However, the past few years I have ventured into business development for the Minnesota government business unit. The business development role I am currently in is a new role for our company, so I am making a difference by paving my own way. I am making an impact by showing that you do not have to follow the same direction as everyone in front of you has. If your passions within our industry are pointing towards the path less taken and you can indicate the need and value that it will provide, nothing should stop you from following that passion. Sometimes we get stuck in the comfort of the known route and forget that if we have confidence and trust in ourselves, we can succeed in the unknown. All you must do is advocate for yourself and the path that you know is right for you.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge (and thus, greatest opportunity) for women in the field, and how might you approach the solution?

There are a few things, the first being that women want to be team players and empathetic, which sometimes means women go with the flow in lieu of voicing and advocating for themselves. This can hinder their advancement and growth, but also is a major asset as they understand how to collaborate and learn from others and are not afraid to be vulnerable. These attributes build trust and relationships with staff and contractors, which might not have happened if they were not able to show this side. I think it's something that needs to be harnessed as a power, not looked at as a disadvantage. The second would be the balancing of family and work life schedules. It can be a bit of a challenge, and in my experience with two young girls, the opportunity is that as a leader, you learn to delegate and build a reliable team which becomes part of your support system.

Who is a woman in your life that has positively impacted your personal or professional development? What is one lesson she taught you?

My mother has been my biggest supporter in everything I have done. She has always helped me aspire to achieve anything I set my mind to. She taught me everything. When I was younger and played hockey, from the ice you couldn’t hear much from the stands. However, my mother’s voice always stood out, good or bad. I knew she was always there in my corner.

What can all companies/organizations do to create workplaces that support and advance the success of women?

To create better workplaces, companies can provide support and flexibility for women, especially if they have families.

What is your proudest accomplishment and why?

Professionally, I thoroughly enjoy what I do, including the facilities I have created and the people I have met, so all of my projects hold a special little place in my heart. If I had to choose though, there are two that top the list. The Brooklyn Park Police Facility was the first police station I created. That project started my career in the government business unit and specialization in law enforcement facilities. The second would be the St. Paul Training Facility. There are a few reasons why this project was important and stuck with me, the project was placed on a site that was tight and had an existing building on it already. The city didn’t think they had any other choice but to use the existing facility, but internally we decided to develop a plan for a new facility, to see if and how big a facility would be if it was new on the site. With the new facility, we were able to provide want-to-have spaces, the project was on budget and exceeded the client’s expectations.

Personally, my proudest accomplishment is meeting my husband and having my daughters, especially since it was something I did not know if I ever wanted until I had it.

Can you share an example of what you or Wold are doing in the workplace to support the growth and development of women?

Wold has shifted to provide more flexible time, including hybrid work options, which is very helpful for women trying to balance work and family. The collaborative culture and support from the team when things come up is immensely helpful. I try to be a resource for women within our company and share my own experience as someone who very much loves working. Finding balance between work and home life can be a challenge sometimes and it does take a village in and outside of the office.

What’s one action every woman can take to support the advancement or success of women around her?

It’s important for women to listen and provide guidance. On the flip side, accept guidance when given. As someone who struggled with this, I know now that when someone gives advice, you should at least listen to it.

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