Jennifer Keegan, Director of Building & Science in Roofing & Waterproofing for GAF joined LVI’s Sarah Lazar to discuss how to break the glass ceiling in this male dominated industry as part of International Women’s Day celebrations.
Watch the video or read our short summary here.
Progression and opportunities to learn
Wherever there is an opportunity to learn and problem-solve on the job, Jennifer accepted and took on, continuing to step our of her comfort zone and recommends to ask lots of questions throughout your career.
When asked how Jennifer progressed in her career, one point to note is that she attended and shadowed in meetings, which eventually lead to her first leadership role at ASTM.
Jennifer managers a team of experienced enclosure consultants, architects and engineers. She translates all of their experience to support the design community. The science behind how building enclosures perform well is crucial as it helps to understand the problems, and influences building design to ensure it prevails.
Jennifer has made a number of life-long relationships throughout her career. ASTM was her first industry association engagement, and she was surrounded by more senior, male figures, and they created opportunities for Jennifer to grow. She says she was given these opportunities because she fostered good relationships with people in the industry. And actually Jennifer was recruited into her current role at GAF through her engagement with ASTM.
Jennifer was one of the few technical women ASTM, then National Women in Roofing recruited her to join their board. From there, she worked her way from Education Chair to then the Executive Board of Directors.
This presented Jennifer with the chance to network with people she wouldn’t have met otherwise due to industry sector and job location, and has vitally enhanced her knowledge.
The National Women in Roofing is also an excellent organisation that fosters a sense of solidarity and combats lack of opportunities for women within the industry.
Career advice for women
Jennifer recommends embracing being part of a minority, and being seen as an underdog. Demonstrate to people that you can back up your capabilities, whether that is debating a technical issue or climbing the scaffolding, because this is where loyalty and respect will grow from, and relationships too. Overall, it really is a people business, and people work with the people they get on with. Therefore, get involved, reach out and ask questions.