Home    AECOM    Insight

Event sees AECOM President Lara Poloni suggest start with Yes

Event sees AECOM President Lara Poloni suggest 'start with Yes'

 May 23, 2022

 Read time

Impacts of workplace change brought on by the pandemic were a key topic for the more than 700 industry attendees at the Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference held in San Francisco, sponsored by Engineering News-Record (ENR) and construction law firm Peckar & Abramson.

Addressing the conference, global president at AECOM Lara Poloni discussed women's leadership success, trusting in one's instincts, and saying 'yes' to growth opportunities.

Outlining the key to leadership impact 

Lara emphasized in career anecdotes that the key to leadership impact is as much tied to empathy and trusting one’s instinct. Women often feel they have to be “super-assertive and speak with force,” she said. “I disagree.”

Start with a 'yes'

Another lesson Lara suggested is “start with 'yes.’” When ultimately offered a C-suite position at AECOM, Lara initially balked, saying she felt she wasn’t ready. She urged attendees to “say 'yes,' work backward from there, and figure out how to make it work.”

Increasing female leadership presence

As part of an environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, AECOM continues to forge diversity - and to make up at least 20% of its senior leadership and at least 35% of its workforce being women. AECOM's ESG program also ties leadership accountability on projects through annual audits of specific performance targets. “We take a look every year” at women’s salaries, said Lara, and “if adjustments are needed, we make them.”

Meaningful change in underserved communities

AECOM women

Senior Director, Key Accounts & Cities at AECOM, Bridget Ssamula [pictured above], also shared expertise. Bridget spoke about how new funding will uniquely position architecture, engineering and construction firms to monitor and improve how public works projects impact them. She points to integration of qualitative geodata into project planning. Tracking project performance through quantifiable metrics to create accountability can lead to meaningful change in underserved communities, she said.

“Firms can use data to pinpoint exactly how a project will impact a surrounding area and add human equity back in,” added Bridget.

Providing coverage for construction industry professionals

ENR provides engineering and construction news, analysis, commentary and data that construction industry professionals use to do their jobs effectively. ENR reports on the top design firms, both architects and engineers, and the top construction companies as well as projects in the United States and around the world. ENR connects diverse sectors of the industry with coverage on a range of issues such as business management, design, construction methods, technology, safety, law, legislation, environment, and labor.

Read the full article featuring AECOM's Lara and Bridget.

Forge a successful leadership career at AECOM

Lara and Bridget are among many women leaders at AECOM who use their expertise and talent to shape industry.

Take the steps towards building leadership success via a rewarding career with AECOM.


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


Join our women's careers community