Alumna Cori Miller hadn’t decided on a major when she arrived at Missouri State University. With an interest in math and a knack for organization, a friend suggested she give construction management a try.
“I started taking classes my second semester of my freshman year in the TCM (technology and construction management) program, and I loved it,” Miller said. “I stuck with it, and it led to my career.”
Now, Miller manages projects valued at over $20 million.
Creating a path for other women
Miller graduated from MSU in 2012 with a construction management degree. Soon after, she joined Crossland construction as a field engineer in Northwest Arkansas.
Within three years, she was the youngest project manager in her division and one of the few women in her field.
“Whenever I first started out as a field engineer, I had a woman superintendent on my first job site. And she set the standard for me of being a woman in a male-dominated field,” Miller said.
But Miller also credits her success to the men in her field.
“But I’ve also had amazing male mentors throughout my career that I’ve learned from,” she said. “Both project managers and superintendents have shown me I’m meant to be here.”
Miller believes more women should join the construction industry.
“To women considering the construction management field, just do it,” Miller said. “It’s a possibility for you. Surround yourself with people who support women in this role and create a comfortable environment.”
The road ahead
From the first whisper of a conversation about a project, Miller is involved with the process from beginning to end.
“It takes an immense level of focus and understanding of the entire project, and that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lot of preplanning,” Miller said.
Luckily, planning comes naturally to her.
“I’m the planner of planners. I have all your spreadsheets covered,” Miller said. “Everything is worked out to a tee.”
Miller was the project manager for Northgate Plaza, a $27 million, six-story office building and parking garage in Rogers, Arkansas. Now, she is leading the Founders Plaza $40 million, five-story office building and parking garage.
Managing large projects continues to be a demanding but rewarding job for her.
“There is never a project that has no issues. There will always be issues,” Miller said. “But being able to see your hard work actually build something keeps you pretty intrigued.”
And she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
“I want to continue to manage a wide array of projects,” Miller said. “I want to continue to add scopes of work and types of projects to my list that I’ve never done before.”